New Irish Cycling Trails

The development of a national cycling network moved one step nearer on Friday with the launch of the Irish trail is strategy.

The strategy, which was unveiled by John Tracy, the chief executive of the Irish sports Council, laid considerable emphasis on the need to improve cycling and walking facilities.

The document highlighted the importance of cycling tourism to the economy. In quoting Bord Failte figures it said that cycling attracts 100,000 visitors and is worth €90 million annually.

However poor infrastructure is placing this lucrative niche market in danger. The strategy said that Ireland is out of step with its European partners in not having a national cycling network. A consequence of this has been the rise of complaints from tourists about road safety and poor signage.

Working with a budget of €650,000 the national trails office will focus its attention on co-ordinating groups involved in constructing trails for walkers and cyclists. Later it plans to include within the scope waterways and horse riding tracks .

The type of trails that falls within its remit are varied. They include city routes, trails linking urban areas to the countryside, links between towns, mountain bike routes and a possible long-distance national network.

Currently Ireland has no official mountain bike trails and only a scattering of unconnected on road cycling routes. According to the strategy this deficiency in infrastructure has been one of the factors behind the decline in activity holidays here. It contrasted the Irish experience with that of Britain, where adventure holidays have been a growth area and where there has been a national cycling network for over 10 years.

The strategy also mentions a few other reasons why it would be good to develop a model similar to that of the UK. It said that a third of all trips on the British national cycling network were now replacing car journeys. It listed the health benefits and the need to cater for a public who have ever-increasing leisure time.

What the strategy did not do was to state when we can expect to have a dedicated cycling network that traverses the country. Northern Ireland possesses two such routes.

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One Response to “New Irish Cycling Trails”

  1. Hugh Geoghegan Says:

    Great to hear that there are moves to establish a cycle network. I had a cycling holiday in Ireland this year. It was a fantastic experience-around trip-Westport-Louisbourg-Leenane-Clifden-Roundstone-Rossaveal-Inishmore-Maam-Maum- Tourmakeady-Westport. Scenery was spectacular. I took this route, though, having spent some time trying to plan a safe coast to coast but was advised against for safety reasons. I also attempted to do this partly by taking the Grand Canal route to Shannon Harbour but again was advised that the toepaths are not cycleable-what a pity. Finally I ended up having to take our 4 bikes on a car as neither Iarnrod Eireann nor Bus Eireann could guarantee they would take them until the day of the journey, again a pity.
    We did experience a few drivers with no regard for cyclists, passing us so closely that we felt threatened for our safety. On none of these occasions was there any need to be so close as they occurred on the open road. We felt there were some who did so deliberately to intimidate us. This is not peculiar to cycling in Ireland but at least in the UK there are many cycle routes off road and more and more cycle paths each year.
    Keep working on the cycling strategy as there are many other routes I would enjoy taking in years to come. Trains and buses need to be more accommodating and the toepaths on the waterways would make for nice easy cycles and attract those who have not cycled for years. Meanwhile, the route above, just over 260 Km over 4 days, is a delight.

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