Public Transport Minister, Alan Kelly, has announced a €7 million euro investment programme for cycle routes.
The funding will see sixteen separate cycling projects built across the country over the next two to years amounting to an additional 334 kilometres of cycleway as part of the National Cycle Network.
Speaking as he announced bike week, Minister Kelly stated: “These projects will enhance both the experience and attractiveness of cycling across the country,”
“This is part of our efforts to create a more cycle-friendly culture across the country and to try and get as many people out of their cars and onto the bikes. Having high-quality routes across the country is a key part of that. Also many of these routes have huge tourism potential so hopefully it will lead to some job creation,” added Minister Kelly.
The funding follows a commitment in the programme for Government to continue National Cycle Policy Framework. A competitive funding scheme was launched in March 2012 to fund Local Authorities to deliver cycling routes around the country which could act as both transport corridors and recreational and tourism amenities.
The programme will deliver a wide variety of route types, including on road routes along rural roads and former national roads, and off-road routes along former rail lines and canal tow paths. The routes will provide valuable transport and recreational infrastructure, with some of the routes having the potential to become tourism attractions in their own right.
“This funding scheme represents a very significant investment in cycling, and is an important aspect of realising the commitment to cycling outlined in the Programme for Government. Given the outstanding success of the Great Western Greenway I am certain that the investment will provide very welcome and long lasting economic benefits in the areas concerned.”
Minister Kelly continued “The funding recognises that not all areas have the benefit of either disused rail lines or canal tow paths, and I am hopeful that the roads based projects funded here will help to unlock the transport and tourism potential that cycling has to offer all around the country. We have a significant amount of catch-up to do compared with many European countries but it is clear that this Government and local authorities are developing much better cycling infrastructure”.
The announcement comes just weeks before National Bike Week starting June 16th which will see a series of cycling events being held across the country.
Over 50 projects were submitted under this funding call, with a total of sixteen projects receiving funding. Projects types vary from the provision of a very extensive rural road based route in Donegal (from Donegal Town to Newtown Cunningham) to the development of a 6km Greenway along a disused rail line from Carlingford to Omeath in Louth.
In addition to the 195km road based route in Donegal, the funding scheme will result in the provision of almost 100km of designated cycle lanes (mainly along former national roads) and a further 40km of off-road routes along either canal tow paths or former rail lines.
There are significant potential benefits from the provision of this cycling infrastructure. The Great Western Greenway is generating an estimated 140,000 trips per annum along the route. A recent economic appraisal of the route found that it has led to the creation of 38 new full time equivalent jobs in the local area. It is hoped that the funding scheme announced today can help replicate these benefits in other parts of the country.