I get a little worried when I hear an announcement of new cycling infrastructure in Co. Wexford.
Often, this is announced with great fanfare but seldom does it deliver the promise.
This was the case with the announcement of a new cycle loop, made in the Gorey Guardian on 27th Sept 2016.
According to the Gorey Guardian, a 20km cycle loop was to be created from Gorey to the Clogh roundabout and from Gorey to the Tinnock roundabout, before the end of that year.
‘Gorey Municipal District councillors were informed last week that Wexford County Council has secured funding of €82,625 from the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs to develop the cycle ways on the N11 (R772) from Gorey to the Tinnock and Clogh roundabouts, creating a 20km loop north and south of the town.’
‘The works will begin shortly with a view to completing the project before the end of the year. Initial discussions are also underway with Wicklow County Council to continue the cycle lanes up to Arklow’
Local councillors react.
Cllr Malcolm Byrne welcomed the news. ‘There has been a significant increase in those cycling for leisure purposes and as a Council, we want to encourage that,’ he said. ‘ The new cycle lanes will have a red macadam surface to distinguish them from the main road and should make it safer for cyclists.’ He complimented the staff of the Council who put the proposal together.
Cllr Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin also complimented the council staff on the initiative. ‘Hopefully it will encourage more children from country areas to cycle to schools in the town,’ he said. ‘At a time of alarming rates of childhood obesity, such initiatives in addition to the development of Gorey Town Park/Showgrounds are very welcome and to be applauded.’
Announcements vs Delivery
Despite the announcement of this project being about a ‘cycle loop’, the delivery was that of a shared path between pedestrians and cyclists.
Bear in mind that according to the rules of the road, such areas with existing hard shoulders are already primarily just for this purpose – pedestrians and cyclists!
Let’s be honest here..
What exactly is the value in terms of attracting new users of doing such projects. This was done without adding as much as an inch of extra tarmac.. – those who were happy enough to cycle on the existing hard shoulder most probably continued to do so. I’m not convinced though that adding a white line inside an existing hard shoulder entices new users, never mind providing conditions where a parent might be comfortable allowing children to cycle on.
When your project involves such simplicity of low hanging fruit box ticking, this is what you end up with. This is a section on an already narrow pinched hard shoulder, which has been narrowed even further by the addition of a cycle lane – all 9 inches wide of it!!
This is not cycling infrastructure – this is box-ticking and needs to be called out for what it is…every time!
To be fair, Gorey is probably one the best of Wexford’s towns in which to cycle, but that announced project failed to connect and join the R772 right through Gorey.
I would very much doubt that the addition of these ‘cycle lanes’ has increased the numbers of leisure cyclists on that route. Adding coloured paint to this would have been a crumbled mess by now
– I would argue that the pinched in sections as per video above could have had the unintended consequence of actually discouraging leisure cyclists because of the increased narrowing of a previous hard shoulder.
I would very much doubt if the installation of these particular ‘cycle lanes’ have increased the number of children cycling to school.
To do that, you need safe, segregated and connected Dutch-like infrastructure.
That’s what’s proven to work.
In The Netherlands, the figure of primary children cycling to school is around 37%
in Co. Wexford, that figure is 0.8%..!!