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 Offaly County Council in relation to the proposed greenway along the Grand Canal from Turraun to Shannon Harbour, on behalf of the thousands of everyday cyclists throughout the country.
This proposed scheme has the general potential to encourage greater levels of walking and cycling locally in the immediate area. The scheme will also be a vital link in the overall Grand Canal Greenway extending from Dublin to the Shannon, and is a key element of the greater Offaly cycling development plan. It will undoubtedly open up commercial opportunities for increased visitor numbers and links to the various attractions in the area, and throughout the county.
We are happy to see local authorities proposing schemes that provide for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists, and encourage sustainable travel. Overall we are supportive of this scheme and the basic design quality. We commend Offaly CC for advancing this proposal, but have a number of comments to make, and seek clarification on, in relation to the posted documentation, which we feel is not comprehensive enough, and is of a cursory nature.
2.0 Specific Comments
While overall we respect the desire to implement this design, we are disappointed that there are limited design details or cross sections available in this Part 8 at critical points that make it difficult to assess the final design viability. We would also comments in general on the Part 8 documentation, as follows:
- The layout of the drawings in this published Part 8 is initially confusing and counter intuitive. Despite the description of the route in the Part 8 documentation as from Turraun to Shannon Harbour, the drawing sequence and kilometrage runs in the opposite direction. It is initially very confusing, and difficult to navigate.
- The level of detail on the actual drawings is very poor, and should have been enhanced by insertion of actual images at particular points on the main drawings, as well as specific cross sections, to enable proper assessment of the proposals.
- Not enough detail is supplied at road crossings in relation to the proposed signage. While we assume that Offaly County Council will comply with the necessary signage, it is incumbent on the Council to provide clear details of the proposed signage and safety measures.
- No details are supplied of links through Shannon Harbour and beyond. The canal towpath greenway ends abruptly alongside the canal at Shannon Harbour, with no indication or discussion of access through the village or on to Banagher. This is a deficiency in the Planning Report.
- There is no mention or discussion on any proposed information and route signage or special features, to add to the experience of the Greenway user. This once again is a deficit in the planning report
- Clear drawing details should have been supplied in particular for the under bridge accesses proposed at L’Estrange Bridge, Judges Bridge, and Gallen (Armstrong) Bridge. To literally just state, that ‘Railings and chicanes (will be installed) on greenway on approaches to ….. Bridge’ is not acceptable. Full details and drawings should have been posted.
- The proposed greenway surfacing is either quarry dust or surface dressing throughout. This is not the preferred surface type for the average cyclist. Cyclist.ie wants to see a smooth asphalt type surface for all greenway routes, as this type of surface helps to reduce falls and skids, and enables easier access for prams and wheelchairs. A quarry dust or surface dressing surface does not give a smooth ride, can be a cause of skids and slips, and generally requires a higher level of maintenance.
While Cyclist.ie broadly welcomes these proposals to link the existing Grand Canal Greenway to Shannon Harbour, we are disappointed with:
- The Part 8 documentation details of the proposed scheme, as outlined above
- The lack of clarity and detail at specific points along the proposed route, including road signage and under-bridge details
- The development/description of cycle links into Shannon Harbour village and beyond
- The fact that there is no mention of potential route enhancement features to attract users and visitors
- The surfacing proposals as outlined are not of the required cyclists’ standard
We hope our comments will be taken on board, and we are available at any stage to discuss any of the items raised above.