SOME 3,500km of cycle routes will connect 2.8million people across Ireland under a newly announced scheme aimed at getting people out of their cars and onto their bikes.
Launched this week, Ireland’s new National Cycling Network (NCN) will see the country criss-crossed by 3,500km of safe bike corridors, linking over 200 cities, towns and villages nationally.
Composed of 85 corridors, the NCN will integrate existing and planned greenways and other cycling infrastructure such as the Eurovelo routes, as well as an extensive new network of safe cycle routes along existing roads.
It will also link to destinations such as transport hubs, centres of education, employment, leisure and tourist destinations “making it easier and safer for people throughout the country to choose cycling as part of their daily activities”, the Department of Transport explained.
Minister of Transport, Eamon Ryan launched the NCN plan at the opening of the latest extension to Co. Kildare’s Grand Canal Greenway – an 11 km stretch of walking and cycle path from Alymers Bridge to Sallins.
When completed, this Greenway will be a continuous route along the entirety of the 130km canal, which runs from Dublin to the River Shannon.
“It is great to launch this plan today here along the Grand Canal Greenway, because it shows that we are already well on the way to developing this new visionary national cycling network, with plans also underway to fast-track delivery of a further 1,000 km of cycle routes by 2030,” Minister Ryan said.
“This national cycling network will act as a core spine, connecting towns, cities and destinations across the country with safe, segregated cycling infrastructure wherever feasible,” he explained.
“I think this will really help to encourage cycling confidence and in turn the number of trips taken by both walking and cycling amongst locals, leisure users, and tourists alike.”
The aim of the NCN scheme is that 80 per cent of households and nearly 90 per cent of jobs will be located within five kilometres of the network.
Ireland currently boasts more than 400km of existing greenways or other cycling infrastructure which will be included as key corridors in the new NCN.
In addition, over 900 km of additional planned and proposed greenways will be included in the network.
“The remaining 2,200 km of the NCN will be provided along existing road infrastructure, ensuring that cycling infrastructure will be, for the most part, segregated from traffic, allowing cyclists to travel in their own space, away from road vehicles and with a higher level of safety and comfort where possible,” the Department confirmed.
The NCN is part of the Government’s commitment to expand the Active Travel and Greenway infrastructure network.
The Department of Transport, alongside Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), commissioned the plan to link cities and towns of over 5,000 people through a network of cycling corridors.
It also represents a key initiative in helping to achieve a 51 per cent reduction in transport emissions by 2030, as mandated in Ireland’s Climate Action Plan