Cycling for All – Kildare Supporters

Maynooth Cycling Campaign, on behalf of (the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network), contacted candidates running for election to Kildare County Council and sought their commitment to high quality cycle facilities through support for Cycling for All.  Maynooth candidates were asked a further local question – to support high quality cycling facilities to two primary schools on the Celbridge Road serving some 700 pupils.

Well the election is now imminent – so what is the position on cycling of candidates? One canvasser said in response to a query “Isn’t everyone in favour of cycling?” Well actually no.  All or practically all are in favour of cycling but support ranges from strong to very soft.

The candidates who pledged support for high quality cycle facilities by endorsing Cycling for All are listed in Table 1 below. We wish them all well in the election and hope that you, the voter, will remember them in the polling booth.

Electoral DistrictNamePartySupport for High Quality Cycling on Celbridge Rd Maynooth
MaynoothPeter Hamilton Green PartyYes
MaynoothCllr. Tim Durkan Fine GaelYes
MaynoothRioana Mulligan Fine Gael 
AthySamantha Kenny Soc Demsn/a
CelbridgePhilip Slattery Fine Gaeln/a
CelbridgeCllr. Brendan Young  Independentn/a
ClaneCllr. Padraig McEvoy Independentn/a
ClaneEoin Hallissey Green Partyn/a
KildareDeclan Crowe   Independentn/a
LeixlipCllr. A. Larkin  Independentn/a
NaasCllr. Sorcha O’Neill Independentn/a
NaasBill Clear Soc Demsn/a
NaasCllr. Carmel Kelly Fianna Fáiln/a

In the report entitled International Cycling Infrastructure Best Practice Study on behalf of Transport for London, consultants identified a number of characteristics of locations where cycling was either strong or where there was strong commitment to increasing the level of cycling. The first characteristic was

There is strong, clear political and technical pro-cycling leadership which is supported through all parts of the lead organisation.

Strong clear political leadership is generally lacking in Ireland but support for Cycling for All shows that that is now changing. More than 120 candidates  have signed up which includes representatives from Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Sinn Fein, Labour, Green Party, Social Democrats and People Before Profit as well as Independents.  


What Do They Love More – Their Cars or Their Kids?

Screenshot 2019-05-18 at 14.30.25

A number of Moyglare Abbey residents have complained about the proposed narrowing of the entrance to the estate from the Moyglare Road as part of the provision of cycle facilities to the new school campus.

Arising from issues raised, Kildare County Council undertook to carry out a review of the proposed junction and in a letter the Senior Executive Officer stated that

With reference to the entrance to Moyglare Abbey, the proposed works to the entrance are to ensure compliance with DMURS.

This statement is incorrect. The internal roads of Moyglare Abbey were designed at a time when engineers considered that wide roads were beneficial for road safety reasons. It is now realised that on the contrary wider roads encourage faster speeds which makes it more dangerous particularly for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.

The Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets (DMURS) sets out current thinking on the design of urban roads and streets. The emphasis is on the design of “streets” in urban areas as the word “streets” suggests multi users as opposed to “roads” which suggests priority for cars and motorised traffic. Leaving aside the term streets, roads are categorised as either arterial roads, link roads or local roads. Internal estate roads like in Moyglare Abbey are local roads – they cater for local only as opposed to through traffic. Section 4.4.1 of DMURS includes Figure 4.55 which gives widths for different categories of roads. The following, an extract from Page 102, defines the widths for local roads ranging from 5 to 5.5m:

If the entrance was in accordance with DMURS, it would be within this range. Instead it is 7m wide which is narrower than it was but which shows how badly designed, by current standards, many of our existing roads and junctions are. If councillors are interested in road safety, they should ask three questions:

  1. What Is the width of the junction and where is it set out in DMURS as being applicable for a local road?
  2. What are the the kerb radii and where is it set out in DMURS as being applicable for a local road?
  3. Does the junction design prioritise cars or pedestrians and cyclists as set out in the DMURS hierarchy of road users?

The Moyglare Abbey access road is different from many other estates in that it also serves a farm. As the entrance must also work for the farm, councillors should ask a fourth question :

    4.  What is the width and frequency of “farm” traffic.

This may lead to a wider entrance than specified by DMURS but an increase should be reasonable. It should not, as in the past, be designed for the  widest vehicle. 

Screenshot 2019-05-18 at 14.41.10

Photograph showing Entrance to Farm off Moyglare Abbey

Those who oppose the narrowing of estate junctions increase the risk to children and other vulnerable road users. The Moyglare Residents Association erected the sign below to alert drivers of the presence of children but in deciding on speed most drivers take their cue from the road form rather than from road signage. At the end of the day, people have to decide what do they love more  – their cars or their kids? 


Postscript – The road/laneway to the farm is only 2.45m so the entrance to a residential estate is nearly three times the width of a road for farm machinery. Crazy!!!

Celbridge Road Needs High Quality Cycle Facilities

Election time is an opportunity by cycle campaigners to reassess progress and to set out new goals for the future. From earlier this year, we identified one glaring omission in Kildare County Council’s proposals for Maynooth – the failure to provide for cycling facilities to the two primary schools on the Celbridge Road. Planning for these schools commenced nearly twenty years ago with little or no consideration on how children would cycle to school and last year, Kildare County Council’s Area Engineer was quoted as stating that there was no room for cycle facilities.  As it turned out, draft plans have recently been drawn up to provide cycle facilities on the Celbridge Road and we are grateful to Cllr. Tim Durkan for informing us. However, the use of the terms “provide” and “cycle facilities” is somewhat arbitrary. The proposed cycle track does not connect with the Straffan Road cycle track and doesn’t extend as far as either of the two schools. It is also discontinuous at Laurence’s Avenue and its effective width is 1.5m which puts it in the category of low quality. The County Council seems to think that cyclists have need to travel in one direction only as the cycle track is unidirectional. Overall, it is an appalling design and once again the council is “ticking the box” for cycling but doing nothing to enable people who want to cycle. Maynooth Cycling Campaign proposes a 2m footpath and 2m cycle track with 1m buffer either side of a 6m road, requiring an overall width of 16m. The existing cross-section of the Celbridge Road varies along its length but there is generally an available width of 14m. So where does the other 2m come from?

Existing Cross-section adjacent to Rockfield

At Rockfield Estate, the 2m could be made up from grass verge on the Laurence’s Avenue side.  Between Rockfield and the Maynooth Educate Together School, it will be necessary to acquire a strip of land at the front of two properties either by agreement or through the use of a Compulsory Purchase Order. Compulsory purchase orders are a normal procedure for providing new roads and it is proposed to used the procedure as part of the Bus Connect project to acquire additional space.

Proposed Cross-section (Typical)

It is accepted that close to the junction with the Straffan Road a pinch point does exist which will require an imaginative solution. The location of two bungalows close to the road complicates the use of CPOs and while there is also a lack of space at Maxol, only a short length is affected. Consequently, a reduction in standards over a short length or, alternatively,  a reduction to a single traffic lane with flow in one direction (after the construction of the relief road between the Celbridge and Straffan Roads) may be acceptable. A detailed survey of the area will allow all options to be considered. Discussions will be required with adjacent residents as part of the design process. However, this must be balanced against the needs of the wider community and government policies on climate and health. High quality cycling facilities on the Celbridge Road is supported by Maynooth Cycling Campaign. It also has the support of the Parent Teacher Association of Maynooth Educate Together and the Parent Association of Gaelscoil Uí Fhiaich. For some twenty years, Kildare County Council has been providing low quality cycle infrastructure which has had negligible impact on levels of cycling. If it continues to provide such quality, there will be negligible change in the next twenty years. Maynooth Cycling Campaign proposes to lobby candidates for the Maynooth Municipal District to support high quality cycle facilities on the Celbridge Road and to publicise the results in advance of the election.

The 1979 Delft Cycle Plan


Delft was the third city in The Netherlands to experiment with modern cycling infrastructure, aided by the national government. After the experiments in Tilburg and The Hague in the 1970s, where they built one very good (but also very expensive) cycle route, that had mixed results but didn’t lead to more cycling overall, Delft took a different and innovative approach. Delft wanted to improve the city’s existing cycle network, which had a lot of missing links. The reason for this area-wide experiment was the increasing modal share of private motor traffic. The city clogged up and couldn’t cope with all those cars, it certainly wouldn’t be able to accommodate even more cars in the future. Cycle expert André Pettinga, who worked for the city of Delft at the time, summarises the need for the Delft Cycle Plan in just a few words: “The local government wished to increase the modal share of cycling!”. This cycle plan was a direct answer to the mainly car-driven Traffic Circulation Plans that had been made for many cities in the Netherlands, including Delft, in the 1960s. The execution of those plans was stopped oneafter the other, because of opposition of the public and changed ideas regarding urban planning……………….

via The 1979 Delft Cycle Plan


Rear_View copy

The Carton Walk Preservation Society (CWPS) has recently commented on the new cycling and walking link from Limetree Hall to the adjacent Carton Walk.

In particular, a spokesperson has been reported as stating that no-one would want a cycle link. Maynooth Cycling Campaign strongly support the provision of cycle facilities between the residential estates and Main Street as it would be a safe route for children attending the nearby school. The alternative route on the Dublin Road has no cycle facilities and would involve a road crossing. Judging from the above photograph, the pupils at Presentation Girls School would appear to agree with our view.

The CWPS also argue that there has been no consultation on the proposal. The proposed walking/cycling link was shown in the Maynooth Local Area Plan 2013–2019 which went to public consultation and was subsequently approved by county councillors. The work is not of a scale which warrants a separate public consultation so Kildare County County got it right this time. Opposition to improved walking and cycling is both mean spirited and detrimental to a more active community.

How to Create Conflict between Walkers and Cyclists

In a recent episode of Tracks and Trails on RTE, Aobhinn Garrihy and John Burke walked part of the Wicklow Way which was established by JB Malone in the late 1970s.

At one point they were looking at a map and realised that the way for walkers was segregated from the way for mountain bikers. John Burke remarked that keeping them apart was “great’ as he was sure “the bikers and walkers do not want to meet”.

The commentator then remarked that in that area, bikers and walkers were kept apart “for safety reasons”.  Further on Robin Seymour, the Irish international mountain biker, stated that there “probably was a lot of conflict before designated spaces”.

I do not know when it was decided to segregate the two but it is amazing that three ‘ordinary’ people recognise that mixing walkers and cyclists together give rise to conflict. In contrast organisations such as local authorities and Waterways Ireland which are responsible for the provision of cycle infrastructure see nothing wrong with force high levels of walkers and cyclists together on narrow footways and towpaths. This use of shared paths follows UK practice dating from the 1980s at a time when cycling was viewed as a child’s pastime – one that they would grow out of in adulthood when they would buy a car.  In Ireland we have chosen to follow the practice of the major European country with the worst modal share for cycling and where the modal share for cycling nationally is unchanged since 2000 rather than countries which enable high levels of cycling. It is hardly surprising then that levels of cycling nationally in Ireland remain low. In the Netherland and Denmark, the authorities recognise that walking and cycling are different modes and require their own space. We should emulate them.

NTA Makes Dog’s Dinner of Cycle Quality

The NTA have made a dog’s dinner of cycle facility quality. Yes they are concerned about quality and yes they refer to it in the National Cycle Manual but does anyone outside the NTA really understand it?

When people are booking a hotel, they have an understanding of the ‘Star’ system of ranking. They may not understand the difference between a 2 star and 3 star hotel but they understand that a 3 star hotel is more luxurious or offers better facilities than a 2 star one and would expect to pay more for it (all other things being equal).

So what is the story with the quality of cycle facilities? There are five levels of service – A+, A, B, C and D. Any cycle facility which does not fall into the first four is level D. Width is one of five determinants of quality the other being number of conflicts, percentage of HGVs on the route, pavement condition and journey time delay. (There has been some modification to pavement condition as a result of the development of the Greater Dublin Cycle Network but the amendments have not been incorporated into the written or digital Manual.) Width is by far the most important determinant, so what does the Manual say about width and level of service? The Manual assesses width in terms of the number of adjacent cyclists as shown below.

So is the width of Level C the same as Level D? And is the width of Level A the same as Level B? What is the width of a Level A facility? In Section 1.5.2, there are references to widths of five cycling regimes but the Manual does not state if the cycling regimes correspond to the Level of Service, and furthermore the exact meaning of different regimes is unclear and open to interpretation. For example what does basic two way mean?

Section 1.5.1 of the Manual on Determining Width includes the following
The designed width of a cycle facility is comprised of the effective width, i.e. the
space that is “usable” by cyclists, as well as the clearances that will be required in
different circumstances.

Effective width as opposed to designed or constructed width is a very important concept as it takes conditions on either side into account. This is important as local authorities often provide a 2m wide cycle track with kerbs adjacent to the footpath on one side and adjacent to a traffic lane on the other, which only has an effective width of 1m.

To make matters worse, the Manual defines the minimum width of a shared footway as 3m, but whether this is effective width or designed/constructed width is not clarified and it does not define whether this is one way cycling shared with two way pedestrians or two way cycling shared with two way pedestrians. The MAnual does not take the level of use into account. As 3m is the minimum standard in accordance with the National Cycling Manual, it is assumed that the level of service for cycling is the fifth and lowest category ie D. Then, just when you think that the NTA couldn’t complicate things further, they succeed.

In 2015, they published a Permeability Best Practice Guide which also has five levels of service but in this case they are A,B,C, D and E. Section 3 of the Guide defines widths for the different Quality of Service (see below) but doesn’t define whether these are effective or constructed widths.

Permeability Quality of Service

The Best Practice Guide states that local authorities in urban areas should aim to provide a Level A quality of service for any pedestrian or cycle links between residential areas and destinations such as schools and shops. Not unreasonably, the document goes on to point out that Level A will often be unachievable due to constraints but at least sets out a high target.

So where does that leave the common situation that arises where one section of a route has segregated cycle facilities and the next section has a 3m wide shared footway? Using the permeability criteria, the shared section is ranked category B and C (second and third) but using the National Cycle Manual criteria, it is D (fifth). What would you think of an organisation which ranks a hotel as one star, three star and four star at the same time? The idea of a star ranking is good. It gives cycle campaigners, politicians and the general public a crude but convenient assessment of quality. However, the time to properly define its use is long overdue.

Maynooth Cycling Campaign – September Notes

Who Benefits from High Quality Cycle Facilities?

This is a simple question – cyclists obviously benefit from cyclist facilities but who is a cyclist? The common perception is a male of a certain age dressed in lycra and helmet and riding a bike  with dropped handlebars but who really benefits from good quality cycling facilities?

               Families                                                         Dog walkers           Family (2)   WalkingDog

                        Disabled                                                                Skaters               Disabled          Skater                                                              



         Elderly                                                    Grandparents     

TandemElderly  Grandparents

                                              The Mobility Impaired

 MobilityScooter  Tricycle

Those on the School Run                                         

SchoolRun   SchoolAlternative

              Those in a Rush                             Those Getting a Lift from a Friend          

Veloxxx       Backie

                Travellers                                                               Lovers

Luggage          Lovers

Everyone benefits from high quality cycle facilities. These picture from the Netherlands show high quality cycle facilities attracting a wide cross-section of the population. This same wide cross-section is starting to appear in London with the opening of the high quality superhighways. For the first time, parents feel subjectively safe in cycling  with young children and mobility scooters and skaters have started to appear without causing conflict with pedestrians.

It must not be forgotten that pedestrian too gain from this. Cyclists have a safe place to cycle away from pedestrians. Shopkeepers benefit if people do not have the expense of a second car. Finally motorists benefit – if people have the option of short trips by bicycle, the roads would be freed up for those who have no choice but to travel by car. This is our vision for Maynooth.

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, the Irish Cyclist Advocacy Network and through it to the European Cycling Federation.

Submission on Royal Canal (Confey to Maynooth)

Maynooth Cycling Campaign submitted the following as part of the Part 8 Public Consultation process on the Royal Canal (Confey to Maynooth).

17 February 2016

 Submission on Royal Canal Greenway (Confey to Maynooth)

Maynooth Cycling welcomes the proposal for the development of a Greenway along the Royal canal from Maynooth to  the  Dublin County  border.  Together  with  the  Greenway  west  of  Maynooth, currently  under  development,  this  will  be  a  huge  boost  to  active  and  sustainable  transport  in  our area. Since it will allow people of all ages to cycle safely and conveniently between Maynooth and Leixlip, it has the potential to offer a real alternative to the car, leading to improved public health and reduced congestion and pollution.

The Greenway will be part of the Dublin to Galway national cycle route, which in turn is part of the EuroVelo 2 Galway to Moscow route. It will attract significant numbers of tourists to North Kildare towns, giving a welcome boost to the local economy.

We are nonetheless concerned that the proposed scheme is not of an adequate standard to fully capitalise on these potential benefits. In particular, the proposal to finish much of the route in dust, rather  than  black-top  tarmacadam,  will  deter  its  use  by  commuters. Many residents of Maynooth and Leixlip commute to work, between the towns themselves and toward the city. A largely off road, sealed-surface, cycle track will encourage cycle use among these commuters. A dust surface can be appropriate for a pure leisure facility with limited range.  However,  for  commuters  and  those travelling  more  than  a  few  kilometres  a  dust  surface  which  creates  dirt,  puddles  and  potholes  is wholly  unsuitable.  Additionally,  as  noted  by  Sustrans  in  their  documents,  Cycle  Path  Surfacing Options,  unbound  surfaces  are  at  least  50%  more  expensive  than  bound  surfaces  to  lay  and maintain.

The grass verge will limit the ingress of some dust into the canal, but it will not prevent dust being carried by the wind into the water. The environmental report does not provide consideration of dust movement into the water.

Recommendation 1:  A bound surface should  be provided along the length of the proposed greenway to  facilitate  the  large  number  of  commuters  potentially  using  this  route.  At  a  minimum  a  bound surface should be provided between the towns of Maynooth &  Leixlip.

The proposed width of the Greenway is 3 metres. We consider this to be inadequate for safety and comfort  of  both  cyclists  and  pedestrians;  4  metres  is  more  appropriate.    The  NRA  Rural  Cycling Design  Standards  document  TD300/14  specifies  3 metres  as  the  MINIMUM  standard  for  a  shared low-volume facility.  Given its route through the most densely populated area of the country, high volumes should be expected.

Whilst  the  available  corridor  is  narrow  as  some  points  along  its  length,  additional  land  could  be compulsory  purchased  to  ensure  adequate  width.  Where the removal of  vegetation  would  be necessary to construct a 4 metre wide track, additional land acquired could be planted with native species  and,  when  it  matures  sufficiently,  existing  vegetation  removed  to  widen  the  track  to  4 metres.

Recommendation 2: A 4 metre wide track should be provided along the length of the greenway.

The proposed scheme does not set out any objectives in terms of modal shift or number of users. In order to properly assess the scheme, its projected contribution to the government target of 10% of commuters using bikes should be considered. In this context a cost benefit  of analysis of dust versus sealed surface and 3 metre versus 4 metre width should be carried out.

Recommendation  3:  Further consideration should be given to the design of the scheme in terms of government objectives for commuter modal shift.

The default position of the proposed access controls at Straffan Road and Deey Bridge may create an obstacle to tourists and leisure cyclists with large panniers or child trailers. We appreciate that these are a considerable improvement on the barriers currently on the Grand Canal between Adamstown and Inchicore, but question the need for such restrictive barriers.

Recommendation 4: Bollards to be used instead of access gates at all access points.


Yours faithfully,