You say Oylegate, I say Oilgate, they say Oylgate.
From my many cycles through Oylegate village, I don’t recall encountering a single bicycle rider on the cycle tracks and I set about investigating why that might be.
End user experience
To give this a proper review, we need to take a closer look at how these cycle tracks work for end users, i.e. a person on a bicycle.
To do this I took the opportunity of cycling along these tracks for the first time. I normally stay on the road as do the vast majority of riders here. After cycling on this with a completely open mind, I can’t see that changing any time soon..
Ambitious off road cycle tracks.
Oylegate is one of three Co. Wexford villages that I’m aware of, with off road cycle tracks. (The others are Barntown & Rosslare Hbr. which I will cover in another blog.)
This off road cycle track set off with the right idea of segregation but the ultimate delivery and end product needs to be right to entice riders. It’s lack of connectivity, numerous loss of rights of way along with forgotten footpaths have let it down.
The lay out of the Oylegate cycle tracks does not appear to have taken pedestrians in to account meaning that it’s a regular occurrence to see people walking on these cycle paths. (You will see in the picture above, 3 pedestrians walking on the cycle path circled in yellow). There are no footpaths on either side of the village alongside this road until you get to the centre.
The amount of pedestrians that I witness on the cycle track at either side, suggest that this may be a flawed design. It is possible that this was intended to be a shared use area but the cycle track signs and road markings seem to set this track out a bicycle specific infrastructure.
Drilling down further..
The attached video above, is from the Northbound cycle track. You will see that I pass a pedestrian on this short stretch before the first section is marked with an ‘end’. To comply with the rules of the road a rider needs to join the main N11 carriageway from an adjacent slipway, losing right of way in the process.
The rider then needs to remain on the N11 until to the edge of the village where the cycle track recommences just after P.J.’s Diner. You will see a worn bike symbol on this track and it’s interesting to observe the non existence of a footpath here too. The surface on this is very poor especially given that it has little use.
You cycle another short stretch and the photo above is where the cycle track finishes and joins the N11 hard shoulder.
Heading southbound the N11 hard shoulder filters in to this (pictured above) uninviting cycle track entrance. If someone shouts ‘Duck’ here, make sure you crouch rather that look to the sky as you run the risk of being ‘clothes-lined’ with the overhanging road sign.
You will immediately see from the moss and twigs on this surface that it is a little used track but not a bad alternative to the main sometimes busy N11. Unfortunately this again comes to a halt at the bus stop and the rider needs to merge back on to the road. After coming through the main body of the village there is an easily missed, sudden rejoining of the cycle track.
This short section comes complete with a bumpy surface and and no less than three give ways – I’m not sure what the thought process was here but some of these give ways are to one or two houses coming out of an adjacent drive. Is the logical thing here not to allow right of way to the road user who is on the main road? Not so when it comes to bicycle riders it would seem.
This track then comes to an ‘end’ and rejoins the perfectly adequate hard shoulder once the road sign has been negotiated.
It’s a pity that this once ambitious project turned out to be a masking tape job.
This cannot be overstated 👇
New legislation copper-fastened in 2018, means that pedal cyclists don’t have to use cycle lanes.
You can read more about that at this link https://irishcycle.com/2018/08/18/cyclists-dont-have-to-use-cycle-lanes-new-legislation-confirms/
What this means in practice is that it is no longer acceptable to create cycling infrastructure that appears to be more about taking the cyclist out of the way rather than enticing the rider with clever, connected end product.
This should be front an centre of cycling infrastructure projects in order to avoid wasting money.
I understand that the Oylegate cycle tracks were built well before this new legislation was announced but unless the infrastructure is of a quality to entice a pedal cyclist to use it, then its usefulness remains questionable.
The road surface on these particular cycle tracks is not bad when compared to some others. However it is of much poorer quality than the main N11 running alongside.
The added journey delay in having to merge in both directions on to the N11 make this less appealing.
In terms of rider safety, the net safety gains of segregation from traffic is largely negated by the cycle tracks not being joined up.
More nervous riders who need this type of segregation in order to participate in cycling are put off by the need to to ride with traffic for a large part of the village through road.
- Often glass and debris on track
- The lack of a footpath could lead to conflict.
- Cycle track surface much poorer than main road surface.
- Too much loss of right of way often shelling the rider back in to busy traffic lessens its overall value.
- Southbound road sign hazardous.