Monaghan County Council Talks the Talk!

Is Monaghan County Council the first Local Authority in Ireland to publish an up-to-date Walking & Cycling Strategy? We think so, and we commend the Council on doing so, and in leading the way for other rural Local Authorities to follow. 

Like many small counties, Monaghan has very low active travel numbers as shown in this graphic (from page 22 of the strategy):

The strategy, adopted by the Council earlier this month, is wide ranging and innovative in many aspects. However, we feel it is let down by the adoption of unambitious mode share targets for active travel which we discuss further below.

We consider here, first of all, some of the many strengths and good points with the strategy:

  • The strategy is not just about transport – it also highlights the health, environmental, climate and economic benefits that can arise from the development of walking and cycling cultures.
  • The Council has set up an Active Travel Unit that will work within the Roads Division and will liaise with a broad inter-departmental team
  • A Walking and Cycling Forum is to be established in early 2022 with stakeholder representatives included. 
  • County Monaghan, with a population of just over 61,000, has a road network of nearly 2,500km, the vast majority of which are local L roads, which the Council want to prioritise as ‘Rothar Roads’,’s concept as set out in our Vision for Cycling in Rural Ireland
  • The strategy references’s Rural Vision and includes the main points of the Vision in Section 2.1.3 of the strategy.
  • The strategy has been developed through a broad consultation process – see the graphic below – and it links into a variety of international, national, and local plans, to place it in a clear broad context.

  • The strategy also references Green Schools’ #whyshecycles project, and the Dublin Bike Life study.
  • It shows awareness of the gender gap in cycling, citing the reasons why fewer women and girls cycle and promises to address this.
  • The strategy undertakes to take the needs of older citizens into account and to ensure that cycling is inclusive.

  • The strategy includes a detailed SWOT analysis (an assessment of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the current situation) that pulls no punches on the challenges that lie ahead.
  • The strategy includes a detailed action plan and a section on monitoring how it is working and measure success.
  • The strategy ‘embraces’ the 10 minute town concept as policy, and proposes to reduce town centre speed limits to 30kph as well as limiting heavy goods vehicle (HGV) access.
  • The strategy commits to identifying a detailed cycle network of both on and off-road routes.
  • The strategy commits to working with stakeholders, and name-checks as one of the organisations to liaise with on a regular basis .

The following are points that, we feel, require further thought and attention:

  • The less than ambitious mode share targets need to be upgraded and timebound.  For instance cycling, as can be seen in the graphic above, has a present mode share of only 0.45%.  It is proposed (in page 51 of the strategy) that an increase of 20% be the active travel target over the 5 years of the strategy. This would mean that the mode share would only rise to just over 0.5%. This is an unacceptably low target mode share for a strategy which is otherwise ambitious in its wording!
  • In the Action Plans pages, some of the supporting organisations are referenced, but particular bodies such as the National Transport Authority, SEUPB (Special EU Programs Body), Green Schools, Road Safety Authority are noticeable by their absence at critical junctures.
  • While it is clear that the strategy embraces inclusion we could not find any reference to providing for non-standard bikes such as people with disabilities or older people might need. These range from adult trikes, to handcycles to e-bikes that need specialised parking and wider cycle lanes.
  • The idea of edge of town parking and encouraging people to walk or cycle in is excellent. Lockers or other provision for storing items until  one is ready to go home would be a useful addition. One of the main advantages of a car in town is to store shopping. 

But overall this new strategy from Monaghan County Council is to be commended.  So why not check out the full strategy yourself here?   

It is now mainly up to the new Active Travel team in the Council to get the ball rolling and to avail of the many opportunities arising for funding, advice and general support, to ensure the success of the strategy. will be happy to play our part in making this a success!

Active Travel Coalition calls for Faster Rollout of Cycle Routes

Press Release – for Immediate Use

In the lead-up to COP26, and the World Health Organisation’s call for more cycling to improve health through increased physical activity and improved air quality [1], a newly-formed Active Travel Coalition is today seeking urgent action on the rollout of safe cycle routes nationwide.

The Active Travel Coalition is bringing together health, medical, environmental and cycling campaigners to call on the Irish government to show leadership on cycle infrastructure to enable families make the switch from the car to active travel modes of walking & cycling.

The coalition says that many people want to make the switch to cycling but are put off by the lack of safe, segregated cycle routes.

The Active Travel Coalition is seeking:

●        Faster rollout of the proposed high-quality ‘Safe Routes to School’ cycle path network.

●        Trial infrastructural change legislation & re-allocation of road space for walking & cycling.

●        Commitment from local and national politicians to lead the move to greater Active Travel.

●        Continued strong funding coupled with rigorous oversight for safe cycle route development.

●        Creation of networks of cycle routes, not just one-off routes that don’t interconnect.

Between 1991 and 2016 walking and cycling to school in Dublin fell from 64% to 46% while the percentage being driven to school increased from 17% to 41% [2]. Dr. Una May, Director of Participation and Ethics at Sport Ireland said “Sport Ireland research [3] shows that only 1 in 3 adults and 1 in 5 children meet recommended daily physical activity levels. Reaching the physical activity guidelines will require a mix of sport, recreational physical activity and regular active travel. Investments in active travel infrastructure can increase cycling to school and work, helping increase the number of children and adults meeting the recommended daily physical activity levels.”

According to Mark Murphy, advocacy officer with the Irish Heart Foundation, “30 minutes of moderate intensity activity, such as walking or cycling, five days a week, reduces your risk of developing heart disease and stroke, and contributes to overall improved levels of health. However, we know that if we want more people cycling, particularly school children, we need a major expansion of safe cycling tracks”.

Ireland’s policy is to reduce carbon emissions in 2050 by 80% on 1990 levels. Oisín Coghlan from Friends of the Earth says “transport accounts for 20% of emissions in Ireland. Given our carbon reduction targets in transport, a modal shift away from the private car is needed towards sustainable modes. Segregated cycle tracks, particularly in Dublin, are urgently needed to support this”.

Research from the National Transport Authority shows that 11% of adults cycle daily in Dublin but 46% would like to cycle or cycle more if they felt safer [4]. Dublin Cycling Campaign’s David Timoney says that we know from research and from the cycle traffic on the Grand Canal and Dun Laoghaire & Seapoint cycle tracks that segregated routes enable people of all ages and abilities to cycle.”

Dr. Sean Owens from the Irish College of General Practitioners says “the strongest evidence for reduced incidence of diabetes, obesity & cardiovascular disease is lifestyle measures centred around physical activity and healthy diets. Getting our patients, our families and our staff on their bikes for pleasure, or for a commute, is a triple win; better health for patients and families, better for the environment and better value for the public purse”.

Only 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 teenagers who cycle in Dublin are female. Mairead Forsythe from ‘Women on Wheels’ says that “the figures show a major gender gap in cycling in Dublin and while the barriers to more women and girls cycling are varied, the number 1 barrier is fear of mixing with motor traffic.”

Colm Ryder from and the Rural Cycling Collective adds that “In many areas developing cycle infrastructure will require a re-allocation of road space from the motor vehicle to active travel. We need to adapt our private car use to achieve the critical goals of an improved and safer public realm and more efficient movement of people around our towns, cities and rural areas“.

*The Active Travel Coalition consist of the following organisations:

Irish Heart Foundation, Irish Cancer Society, Diabetes Ireland, Irish College of General Practitioners, Sport Ireland,, Dublin Cycling Campaign, Women on Wheels, Irish Pedestrian Network, Friends of the Earth, Irish Doctors for the Environment & Faculty of Sports & Exercise Medicine (RCPI & RCSI).

For further information contact:

Dublin Cycling Campaign: David Timoney (083.333.9283 & [email protected]). Colm Ryder (087.237.6130 & [email protected])




[3] Sport Ireland 2018 CSPPA and 2019 ISM studies.


West Clare Railway Greenway – Submission

Clare County Council is currently progressing Section 1 of the West Clare Railway Greenway project. This aims to provide a recreational greenway between the towns of Kilrush and Kilkee, following the route of the former West Clare Railway where feasible. 

The West Clare Railway between Kilrush and Kilkee closed in 1961 and since then the main transport corridor between the two towns has been the N67 National Road. The West Clare Railway Greenway project aims to develop a new walking and cycling corridor between these two seaside towns, providing a high-quality attraction and amenity to locals and tourists alike, and building on the success of the Waterford Greenway and the Limerick Greenway.

The study area currently being examined the Council is shown here, with Kilkee lying to the North West and Kilrush to the South East. 

In response to the public consultation process, sent a submission to the Council on Monday 5th of October setting out our initial views on the proposals. 

At the broadest level, is delighted to see this proposed greenway project advancing, and we wish to support Clare County Council in this initiative. is strongly in favour of the creation of a high quality, safe and largely / entirely segregated cycle facility linking Kilkee to Kilrush. Such a facility will offer multiple benefits to many different age cohorts and different user groups – including children, older people, tourists, utility cyclists and recreational cyclists. If designed and built to high standard, and if it offers a safe environment for all ages and abilities, it can replicate and surpass the success of other greenways in Ireland and beyond. This represents a win-win for all concerned.

More specifically strongly advises that cycle facilities do not run along / alongside the N67 except where absolutely necessary. Even if proper segregation is provided alongside an N road, the noise from motorised traffic on an N road (both engine noise and tyre noise) diminishes the quality of the experience for users – it is difficult to have a conversation with another person on a bike alongside oneself when traffic noise is significant.

In our submission we also made the point that Kilrush has terrific potential to become a properly cycle friendly town, but it is currently utterly dominated by cars. Frances St, a wonderfully wide and beautiful street, is just waiting to be set free – there is a huge opportunity to improve the urban realm there. Furthermore, all schools, sports clubs/grounds and residential areas should be connected carefully to the greenway so that parents can feel comfortable having their children cycling to school on their own. Additionally, the route should link with all of the main tourist destinations, including the Vandeleur Gardens and forest trails.

You can read’s full submission here.   

To give a little bit more context on the overall consultation process for this section of the West Clare Railway Greenway, you can check out this graphic taken from the official material (a link to which can be found below). 

Further information can be gleaned from this Clare County Council webpage.   

Finally, if you are particularly interested in cycle campaigning issues in County Clare and would like to connect into’s advocacy work to improve cycling conditions in the County, please contact us here.