PLANS for build more than 2,300kms of new cyclepaths across Dublin and surrounding counties have been unveiled by the National Transport Authority (NTA).
The transport agency wants to increase the existing network from 500km at present to 2,840km to encourage people to cycle instead of using their cars.
And the ambitious plan includes a series of “greenway” cycle paths alongside rivers, parks, the canals and coast with 20 planned.
The longest would run from Howth in north Dublin towards Bray, with two others planned along the Grand and Royal canals. There is also a Dodder route proposed to link Tallaght with the south city centre business district.
“There has been a significant increase in the number of people cycling in Dublin in the last few years,” Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said. “We want that to continue.
“This plan will treble the length of cycleways in Dublin. Added to the bike to work scheme, the extension of Dublin Bikes and greater intergration with bus, train stations and Luas stops, it is our vision to have as many people cycling into the city every morning in 2021 as currently take the bus. This is hugely ambitious but I believe it can be done.”
A report from the NTA says that limited road space in the city centre means it has been “difficult” to provide cycle lanes in the city centre.
However, it notes that on the busiest cycle route in the city - North Strand Road - some 900 cyclists use it in the morning peak. The next busiest is Rathmines Road with 700.
“These high cyclist flows are despite the poor quality of service on these busy radial routes where cyclists must share bus lanes or be confined to narrow cycle lanes,” it says.
The ‘Draft Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network Plan’ includes an analysis of cycling patterns and predicts future demands on the network.
It wants the numbers of cyclists to treble from 22,000 a day to 75,000 by 2021.
Some 13 routes to the city centre are planned, along with six orbital routes around the city centre.
Changes are also planned in smaller towns in Kildare, Wicklow and Meath, including greenway links between towns.
This would allow cyclists to travel between Dublin and north to Drogheda, west to Mullingar and Portlaoise and south to Arklow.
The cycle-routes would require planning permission.
NTA chief executive Gerry Murphy said the authority last year provided €13.4m in grant-aid to cycling projects, and that it was proposing a new transport network.
“This plan will inform the next decade of investment in cycling across seven local authorities in the region,” he said. “It is the most comprehensive study of cycling needs ever carried out in Ireland and aims to satisfy the increasing demand for appropriate cycling routes. We will build on the resurgence in cycling which has occurred by meeting cyclists’ needs.”
The NTA has published details of its proposals on its website and is seeking comments from the public by October 14 next. You can visit the public consultation page by clicking here.
By Paul Melia