The Limerick Greenway (Great Southern Trail) is a unique 85km stretch of countryside in West Limerick / North Kerry. It is the route taken by the Limerick – Tralee railway line, which opened in 1867/1880 and closed in 1975/1977.
The Great Southern Trail (GST) group is an active member group of Cyclist.ie – and it has been campaigning on the ground for many years for the creation of a high quality greenway along this corridor.
Cyclist.ie was delighted to receive the “Great Southern Trail 10 Year Video Report, 2013 to 2023” earlier today (14 February 2023).
The report includes footage of the GST “Barricaded Walk” from February 2013, of the (then) Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar opening the Abbeyfeale to the Kerry Border section (also in February 2013), the opening of the Barnagh Tunnel in 2021, and the opening of the Limerick Border to Listowel section in October 2022.
The video also outlines the route of the remaining trail – the railway route from Listowel to Tralee (to link with the newly opened Tralee to Fenit Greenway). The video and photos were produced by Mike Guerin in Feb 2023. Overall, the film gives a sense of battles fought and advocacy work advanced by the GST team as they engaged with many Ministers, Councillors and other stakeholders over the last 10 years…. not to mention the 25 years of campaigning before 2013!
The video can be watched here:
Cyclist.ie congratulates Liam O’Mahony, Mike Guerin and all of the campaigners from the GST route for their ongoing work in campaigning for the completion of the greenway.
Cyclist.ie welcomes the continuing high level investment in Active Travel projects and personnel from the present government. These investments are critical in helping Ireland to match its Climate Action Plan ambitions. The most recent announcement on 1st February 2023 allocated funding of €290 million nationwide for 2023 and sees a wide array of projects being funded. These range from small footpath schemes to full blown urban greenways and bus corridors. The allocation of this National Transport Authority (NTA) funding recognises the breadth of work that needs to be done to begin to increase cycling and walking, and reduce the use of the private car in our society.
Funding allocations range from a high of nearly €60 million for Dublin City down to several million Euro for some of the less populous local authorities. The four Dublin local authorities together account for nearly 43% of the allocated funding.
In this article, we provide feedback from some of our own member groups in the Cyclist.ie network on allocations for particular counties / local authority areas. Our contributors have highlighted where spend seems appropriate and is to be lauded, but they also have concerns on the spend on some more questionable schemes (particularly road resurfacing projects).
Limerick Limerick Cycling Campaign warmly welcomes the allocation of €21m in funding for Limerick as part of the NTA funding allocation of €290m for walking and cycling projects in 2023.
It will see delivery of large primary routes such as the TUS (Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest) to City Centre and Hyde Road schemes in this calendar year as well as a number of key secondary routes in all three metropolitan wards. Progress on Active Travel measures on the Dublin Road are particularly welcome. It’s currently a very hostile road for those who walk or cycle and is a significant barrier to modal shift for those residents and UL students living in the area.
There has been a significant increase in rural funding including a fund of nearly €5m for active travel improvements in rural towns and villages as well as an expansion of the Safe Routes to School Schemes for many primary and secondary schools in the city.
One slight concern is the low funding amount attached to the Pathfinder project from Park Canal to Clare St. We would hope that we would see a significant increase to this essential project in 2024 as plans progress.
While it’s encouraging to see the Ballycummin area of Limerick City West included, we would hope to see progress to deliver the full orbital route around the Ballycummin / Church Hill Meadows area and the inclusion of the main Church Hill Meadows Road and the remaining small stretch of Dooradoyle Rd as soon as possible. With excellent projects on Fr. Russell Road and the Quinns Cross route being delivered in 2023, these will be the natural next steps to connect the largest estates in Limerick City West to the rest of the network.
Overall the funding shows the work that Limerick’s Active Travel Team, supported by the larger council and our elected reps, is advancing is gathering significant steam. We would call on all Limerick stakeholders to see the huge opportunities that this funding presents for Limerick as we move to a transport system that supports our climate responsibilities, our health and well-being and a more sustainable way of moving around our city.
Meath Meath’s allocation of €14,135,000 is very welcome and, outside of the four Dublin local authorities, Cork and Limerick, is the highest allocation to a county from this year’s funding. The allocation is spread across 38 different projects, and in total almost half of the total funding (€7m) is for schemes in Navan.
The majority of the funding for cycling infrastructure in Navan is for ongoing schemes which are already in various states of planning, such as the Trim Road Cycle Scheme, the R147 Kells Road Scheme and the R147 Martha’s Bridge to Circular Road Scheme. One notable addition is the inclusion of the Pathfinder Project, on the R161 Navan to Trim road.
Of the €7m funding for Navan, €3m is for the ongoing Navan 2030 works at Kennedy Plaza, which unfortunately do not contain any plans for cycling. €1m is allocated for the new LDR4 bridge from the Kells Road to Ratholdren Road. While this new bridge and road will incorporate active travel infrastructure, it is well documented that new roads only serve to further embed car dependency, a phenomenon known as induced-demand. It is unclear how this project can be awarded funding under active travel.
We feel that active travel funding should have been secured for this area of the town to facilitate the installation of cycle lanes along the Ratholdren Road. We have been advocating for safe cycling infrastructure along this road since last May. There are two schools at either end of the road, a leisure centre, the town’s only park and the trailhead for the soon to be opened Boyne Valley to Lakelands County Greenway. We are very disappointed about the lack of progress as Navan’s residents are denied safe cycling access to the host of amenities mentioned above. The new greenway is highly anticipated and we are very concerned for the safety of children and other vulnerable road users, either trying to access Navan town centre if coming from Kilberry/Wilkinstown/Nobber or Navan residents trying to access the greenway from the town. This existing problem will only get worse as demand for greenways around the country has proven to be exceptionally high. We cannot wait years for the completion of the LDR4.
Sligo Spokesperson for Sligo Cycling Campaign Joan Swift said the Campaign very much welcomed the €3m Active Travel allocation for Sligo and is particularly pleased with the Safe Routes to School funding for Scoil Ursula, St John’s, Strandhill and Enniscrone. Giving children and parents the freedom to get to school on their own fuel is key to unlocking the health and well- being benefits of active travel.
Sligo Cycling Campaign is also pleased that funding has been secured to commence the Pathfinder schemes, Carraroe to town centre and town centre to the ATU (Atlantic Technological University). The Campaign will be looking for clarification on some schemes which merely say “Active Travel” as it’s unclear what this means in practice. We very much welcome the proposed footpath scheme from the station in Collooney, but we are concerned for example that in a social media post Councillor Thomas Walsh included road resurfacing as well as footpath enhancement and junction tightening in his description of the Collooney schemes. Road resurfacing, while necessary in our view, should come from the roads maintenance budget and not the Active Travel allocation. The footpath from Collooney to Ballisodare also appears to be already well advanced, so again we will be asking for clarification in regard to the purpose of the €550,000 allocation for this scheme. A further concern we have is why a parklet costing €70,000 is included under Active Travel.
Clare We note the allocation of €4.5m for County Clare and more than 50% of this is allocated to Ennis town and surrounds. €400,000 is allocated to Active Travel Team staff costs. €1.2m is allocated to footpaths in towns and villages.
Almost €6m was allocated to Active Travel in Clare in 2021. Many of the proposed schemes in 2023 seem to be very similar to those that were proposed in 2021. There is not enough evidence that the schemes proposed in 2021 have actually been completed. We would like some clarification on what was spent from the 2021 allocation and on what exactly, and how these schemes differ from what is being proposed in 2023.
There has been virtually no funding allocated to cycling infrastructure in this round. Some such infrastructure was implemented in Ennis from the 2021 funding.
No funding at all seems to be allocated to active travel in rural areas, or visitor attractions and sites. There is very little in North and West Clare, except for small amounts in Lisdoonvarna and Miltown Malbay / Spanish Point for footpaths and pedestrian crossings.
For example, there is a section of cycling / walking path between Lahinch and Liscannor which was started a number of years ago, and it remains unfinished and dangerous to walk or cycle on. This is not included in the current allocations, but needs to be remediated at the very least.
Many of the Active Travel Schemes have very limited funding allocation, apart from one on the Tulla Road in Ennis which has been allocated almost €1.8m (40% of the total budget). There is also no detail on what any of the Active Travel schemes will actually include, so we would like clarification on this and exactly what these schemes include and hope to achieve.
South Dublin County The South Dublin Sub-group (of Dublin Cycling Campaign) welcomes the allocations in the Active Travel Investment Programme 2023 which advance the Cycle South Dublin Programme. We are especially pleased to see all the unfinished sections of the Dodder Greenway included in the Programme as well as major investment in the Wellington Lane Cycling and Walking Scheme, the Castletymon District Enhancement Programme, D24 Neighbourhood Cycle Network, Killinarden Park and Greenway Scheme, Active Travel for Clonburris and the Grand Canal to Lucan Urban Greenway. We are pleased also that some funding has been allocated under the 2023 Greenway Programme for the Grand Canal 12th Lock (Lucan) to Hazelhatch scheme but disappointed that the allocation is not adequate for completion of the scheme in 2023.
Conclusion Cyclist.ie welcomes the investments in Active Travel projects countrywide. However, we stress here the need for spending to go on those schemes which form important elements of local cycle networks and which connect to important destinations such as schools, colleges, town centres and greenways. We do not support AT funding being spent on motor traffic / road capacity expanding schemes with minor ‘tag-ons’ of cycling infrastructure or on road resurfacing projects. We will be following up with the NTA and with the local authorities in due course in regard to these.
For more information on the Active Travel Grants Programme delivered by the Active Travel Investment Section of the NTA, see here.
Cyclist.ie – the national Cycling Promotion organisation