CYCLIST.IE SUBMISSION – Greenway from Omeath Pier to National Border

Earlier today Cyclist.ie made a submission to Louth County Council in regard to their ‘Part 8’ planning application for the Greenway from Omeath Pier to National Border. See below.

The location of the greenway can be seen in this map taken from the Route Corridor Assessment report. The full documentation on the Council website can be found here: Part 8 – Omeath Pier to National Border.

Louth County Council,
Town Hall,
Crowe Street,
Dundalk,
Co Louth,
A91 W20C

1.0 Introduction

Cyclist.ie is Ireland’s national cycling advocacy network, and the Irish member of the European Cyclists’ Federation.  We are delighted to make this submission to Louth County Council in relation to the proposed greenway from Omeath to the Northern Ireland border, on behalf of the many thousands of everyday cyclists throughout the country.  Cyclist.ie’s vision is that everyday cycling is the norm in Ireland

This proposed scheme has the potential to increase active tourism levels even further in the area, to encourage greater levels of walking and cycling locally in the immediate vicinity, and in particular to revitalise the village of Omeath as a desired destination, in particular when the full stretch of greenway between Carlingford and Newry is completed.  It should also help to increase the daily use of bicycles for a variety of uses.  

We commend the Objectives for this project as outlined in  the ‘Project Brief’ below 

• inspire active travel; 

• meet local and regional strategies in terms of tourism and healthy and active living; 

• enable more sustainable forms of mobility on a cross-border basis;
• increase cross-border commuting by cycling or walking from 2.7% to 10%; 

• improve cross-border social cohesion; 

• improve cyclist safety through the construction of a predominantly ‘off road’ shared cycle/pedestrian network; and 

• reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions

If these objectives are adhered to, and the results measured following the building of the project, it can help to build information and research and feed into future planning of routes such as this. It will also encourage a wide range of different users of all ages and abilities.

It is also worth noting in the recently published National Greenway Strategy that situations such as this are specifically referred to in the section on ‘Focus of the Strategy’ where it states

‘the development of ‘Greenways’ relates to the development of Greenways of scale i.e. for new developments or extensions of existing Greenways that are more than 20k or shorter distances where it is proposed to join a number of existing Greenways to form a longer, more strategic route.’

This additional section of the Carlingford Greenway supported by EU Interreg funds, can eventually link a longer strategic cross border network of safe segregated cycle routes for all users.  

Overall we are supportive of this scheme, although we await some final design details, as these are not absolutely displayed on the available documentation . We commend Louth CC for advancing this proposal, but have a number of suggestions and comments to make, and seek clarification in relation to some minor posted documentation.

2.0 Particular Points

Greenway Width
We note the proposal, to provide a 2 – 3m wide greenway along this corridor.  Cyclist.ie suggests that while 3 metres is ‘minimum’ standard width for a low volume route as defined in Table 4.1 of TII’s ‘Rural Cycleway Design’ guidelines, 2 metres is not acceptable for a national cross border route as proposed.  Unfortunately no cross section details are supplied in the online documentation in regard to particular locations on the greenway route itself so the level of variation in width is difficult to determine.  And, this route if promoted well, would be expected to have a High Volume of users, and thus the width should be increased where possible and especially closer to amenities and destinations.  It is disappointing that a more ambitious general width target has not been chosen.

Surface Type
We, on behalf of cyclists, would prefer to see a bituminous tarmacadam surface for the greenway surface.  This type of surface is the preferred surface for cyclists in general, but also for wheelchair, pram, scooter, and other users – in other words for people of all ages and abilities.  There is a mistaken belief that a ‘dust’ surface is more natural, but it also makes the use of the route more difficult for users with disabilities on wheeled vehicles.  A bituminous finished surface as outlined in Section 8.4 of the TII Rural Cycleway Design (DN-GEO-03047 ) document is the preferred surface finish and will support the inclusion objectives of this project more directly.

Fencing
We note the proposal to fence along both sides of the proposed route.  We regard this as unnecessary and restrictive, and it also reduces the quality of the visitor experience.  We recommend a review of necessary fencing, and particularly recommend the removal of fencing on the seaward side of the route, to enhance the visitor experience, and reduce that ‘hemmed in’ feeling.  Along this route the views across the waterway are hugely attractive and fencing will detract from this.

Circuitous Route Section
We note that the section of the route from approximately Chainage 1740 to 2820, a distance of more than 1km, is circuitous and winding with a number of sharp turns.  While appreciating that this ‘diversion’ is required to circumvent private housing, every effort should be made to improve the alignment and reduce sharp turns, as they are potential collision locations.

Bike Parking
We note the outline of proposed individual design of Sheffield style bike parking racks on the Construction Details Drawing.  While we are happy with the basic proposed designs, it is critical that the spacing of the individual racks is kept wide enough apart to accommodate different bicycle types comfortably.  In particul;ar along this scenic greenway tourist stretch, many bike users will be carrying pannier bags and equipment and need more space.  Also bikes with trailers, and the occasional cargo bike will appear.  This needs to be considered when installing parking. You might like to check out Dublin Cycling Campaign’s Bike Parking Guide for more information on this. 

Flood Protection
We note the specific attention rightly paid in the design to potential future rising sea levels, and the effect this might have on the greenway at particular times, despite the lack of detailed local information.  The actual proposed methodology for warning users of flooding issues should be more clearly outlined.  We are also unclear from the online documentation, why specific construction elements are not proposed in the areas where this possible flooding is envisaged?

Chainage 3470
In the General Arrangement Plan at Chainage 3470 there is a reference that states ‘Greenway passes under L7002’.  This reference does not appear to make any sense in the context of the location and drawing.  Please clarify.

Public Art
Very long stretches of greenway through some (unchanging) surroundings can create a less than ideally stimulating environment. Canal-side and railway line cycle and walking routes can suffer particularly from this weakness. It is for this reason that public art is an essential element of the UK National Cycle Network. It is strongly recommended that the Council and the design consultants reflect on the great potential for enhancing the visual interest and place-making dimensions of the route by incorporating quality public art and other design features into the scheme. See Artworks and art trails on the National Cycle Network.  

3.0 Summary/Conclusion

Cyclist.ie overall is happy that this proposed project is progressing.  It will undoubtedly encourage greater levels of cycling and walking in the area if properly promoted, and should help to boost the development of facilities alongside the route.  However as mentioned above we request Louth County Council to:

  • Increase the greenway width (unless there is a very good reason not to at a particular location)
  • Install a bituminous surface along the full length of the route
  • Remove fencing on the seaward side of the route where possible
  • Use public art to further enhance the facility

We further look forward to the proposed development of the greenway linkage across the Northern Ireland boundary, which will create a link to a network of safe cycle routes north and south.

Supplementary Note
It was disappointing that Louth CC did not include either a survey link for observers to complete, or a basic email submission detail in the material posted online. In these times that omission is regrettable, and hopefully will not be a feature of any ongoing public consultations. 

Yours

​___________________

Colm Ryder
Chairperson, Cyclist.ie
Tel  00353-87-2376130
Email  [email protected]
www.cyclist.ie  
19th August 2020

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