Major revamp of national bike network planned
CYCLISTS will be able to safely take quiet trips through the countryside and commute efficiently under new plans for almost 3,000kms of cycleways.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) has revealed a 10-year timeframe for the construction of new cycle lanes and the upgrade of older ones.
The NTA hopes that the new network will eventually carry as many commuters as now take the bus by 2021.
The strategy for Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow will involve more than a five-fold increase in the current 500kms cycle network to 2,840kms.
The planned new network consists of primary and secondary routes as well as greenway routes, which will go through parks, along waterways and at the seafront.
A spokesperson for the NTA said it showed that cycling infrastructure was now being taken seriously in its own right, rather than being squeezed into existing roadways.
Concerns have been raised about the quality of some of the cycle routes in Dublin's city centre.
In many cases, cyclists are battling with busses and taxis for space on the roads.
"These facilities are generally of a low quality of service in the city area," the plan said.
The plan, which was drawn up following a public consultation, will see an upgrade of many of the routes.
Some 13 routes to the city centre are planned, along with six orbital routes around the city centre.
The network incorporates existing routes, such as the Grand Canal Cycle Scheme.
But it has also proposed significant new primary routes, such as an off-road Dodder route, connecting Tallaght to the south city centre business district.
Connecting routes will run between towns and villages, with a focus also placed on improving conditions for leisure cyclists.
"The vision is that all cities, towns, villages and rural areas will be bicycle friendly," according to the plan.
It added: "Ireland will have a healthier and happier population with consequent benefits for the health service. Ireland will gain economically as cycling helps in easing congestion and providing a fitter and more alert work force.
"Recreational cyclists need to be provided for also and one of the measures outlined is to provide cycle tracks of high amenity value along coastal, canal and riverside routes," according to the blueprint.