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Department ‘guidance’ awaited on using hard shoulders as cycleways

The possibility of using hard shoulders along certain roads – such as former national roads – to facilitate future cycling infrastructure is being examined by the Department of Transport, Cllr Denis Leonard was informed at a meeting of the Municipal District of Mullingar Kinnegad.

Cllr Leonard, who had called for the district to use the Active Travel fund to create a walk and cycleway in the margin along the old N4 between Kinnegad and Coralstown was told that the department’s guidance is expected to be issued shortly.

“This request can be further examined in that context,” the written response to his request stated, explaining that at present, the main focus of the Active Travel Programme is to prioritise the provision of infrastructural works in areas where significant demand walking and cycling infrastructure exists – towns and villages.

Cllr Leonard said it was his view that looped walk and cycleways could be set up using stretches of former national roads that could link in to existing cycleways and interconnect with other routes. He said many such roads have wide margins that would allow for demarcation.

“The reason I ask this is that Active Travel spent millions this year in Mullingar – and it’s needed – but what I feel is that very little is spent by Active Travel in rural areas where projects can be done inexpensively through Active Travel,” he said, criticising the fact that most expenditure in rural areas goes on roads.

“I think the obvious place for a project is between Kinnegad and Coralstown on the very wide main road because long-term, you could connect Kinnegad, Coralstown, Killucan and back to Kinnegad as a very worthwhile loop that would join up with Killucan station,” he said.

“We need to be looking at more walking more cycling, more buses, more trains, more options, because we have no other option in rural Ireland except the car – and the high diesel prices that are there at the moment – if we don’t have proper safe walkways and cycleways so we can get out of the car and get on a bike or walk between places.”

Cllr Hazel Smyth supported the motion, saying it would complement the Kinnegad regeneration scheme that’s happening at the moment.

“All it really is needed to be done is it to demarcate a segregated cycle lane,” she said before suggesting that the district write to the department requesting funding for the work.

Cllr John Shaw also voiced his support saying that people want to be able to cycle without having to worry about cars coming flying from both directions.