Royal Canal Greenway
Maynooth Cycling Campaign is disappointed at the lack of conditions attached to the approval of the Part 8 Report for Royal Canal Greenway between Maynooth and Dublin. This was a lost opportunity of providing a good quality greenway as opposed to a mediocre one – one which will compares unfavourably with the Waterford Greenway now under construction. The area engineer reportedly gave an undertaking to councillors that he would fully address the concerns of Maynooth Cycling Campaign. He hasn’t.
There were five pro-cycling submissions – one was an internal submission, one was from a prescribed body and three were from the general public. A number of secondary issues were raised but there were two primary issues which were common to all five submissions – surfacing and width.
In response to surfacing, the Kildare County Council’s consultant is alleged to have come out against the use of a bituminous surface. It is noted that the Consultant is employed by the officials and future work is dependent on his relationship with the same officials but in an earlier report on surfacing options, the same consultant concluded
It is recommended to provide a bituminous surface on the full length of the Galway to Dublin Greenway for reasons of quality, comfort, safety, reduced maintenance and better whole life costs.
The consultant also pointed out that a dust surface would not attract foreign visitors. Waterways Ireland claims to require a dust surface in rural areas for environmental and ecological reasons. However Waterways Ireland is happy to provide a bituminous surface for motorised traffic on some rural parts of the canal – it only develops environmental and ecological concerns where cyclists are involved.
The reasons for rejecting widening of the path are equally disingenuous. Maynooth Cycling Campaign accepts that it is not feasible to widen the greenway everywhere but it does not accept the starting point of Kildare County Council which is that it cannot be widened anywhere. Kildare County Council proposes a greenway 2.5m wide in parts – one to be shared with pedestrians. Conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians are common on such towpaths across the UK. The way to eliminate such conflicts is to follow international best practice (in so far as is feasible) such as from Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark where inter urban routes for cyclists are 4m wide.
We had also raised the following issues with councillors which we considered pertinent to any decision on the project:
- Why a (50%) more expensive dust surface should be preferred rather than a cheaper and maintenance-free blacktopped surface?
- Who pays for the additional maintenance?
- Why was there no cost benefit analysis of the scheme on the Royal Canal
None of these points were addressed in the Part 8 report.
Kildare County Council has been ‘promoting’ cycling for nearly twenty years and over most of that time the level of cycling has declined. A recent report into the outcome for cycling of the Smarter Travel Towns by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport found that the level of cycling increased by 0.2% per year. With the proposed low quality greenway, the level of cycling in Kildare is unlikely to increase.
A more comprehensive report on the proposals for Royal Canal will shortly be available on our website.
EPA Consultation on Air Pollution Monitoring
The EPA recently released a report on the Ireland’s Environment: An Assessment 2016 which estimates that there are 1200 premature deaths annually resulting from air pollution and follows the UK government losing a case in the courts over its failure to tackle air pollution. While the concern is mainly in relation to Irish cities, the EPA proposes to introduce a national air pollution monitoring programme which includes Celbridge, Leixlip, Naas and Newbridge. Maynooth Cycling Campaign has proposed that monitoring should also include Maynooth because of the high levels of traffic congestion here.
Netflix – Bikes vs Cars
One of the films currently on offer to Netflix subscribers is Bikes vs Cars. This is a documentary film about the struggle to provide cycle facilities in the Americas and while the situation in North and South America is different from that in Europe, there are many similarities. Well worth a watch!
Maynooth Cycling Campaign is a non-party political cycling advocacy group. Further information on meetings and activities is available on our website. We are affiliated to Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cyclist Advocacy Network and through it to the European Cycling Federation.