Opinion: Every day during the summer many cyclists passing his house complain that they do not have the safety of a dedicated cycle lane. That is shameful on a national primary road into a major tourist town and county and, Cllr Michael Gleeson writes, all he can do is cringe with embarrassment
AT the January 2019 monthly meeting of Kerry County Council, I proposed that Kerry County Council and Transport Infrastructure Ireland would seek to develop cycle lanes on all existing national primary and secondary roads in Kerry as being cyclist friendly is essential for the growth of an ever-expanding aspect of tourism.
The council replied that current TII policy is that cycle facilities shall be provided on all new road schemes on the national network. Where new roads are being constructed off line from the existing route, the use of the old road may be considered.
In consultation with the TII, Kerry County Council develops realignment schemes on the national network in accordance with this policy – for example, the recently opened N86 section at Lispole and Camp. In addition, the TII Road Safety Section funds cycle facilities on existing national roads in the interest of road safety on a section where a need has been identified.
25 years ago the now late Tadhg Crowley said to me: ‘The fastest growing sport in Europe is cycling and we should be getting ready to share in its visitor potential’.
But of course, as ever, we have done little or nothing to facilitate and develop either it or walking but most especially cycling.
It is so wonderfully obvious that tourism and outdoors are becoming ever-more synonymous with people climbing, walking, jogging and cycling. And yet all the way from the county bounds on the Derrynasaggart Mountain to Killarney town there is but one tiny stretch of dedicated cycle lane. And that is a pathetic 150m dirt track either side of Lissivigeen Roundabout.
I hope to get my shovel sometime this week to clean that piece and especially remove the grass and the mud.
Every day during the summer any number, between 10 and 40 cyclists, pass by my house and do not have the safety and welcome of a dedicated cycle lane. That is shameful on a national primary road into a major tourist town and county.
Occasionally, a cyclist will stop and chat and say how unsafe they feel. They will say how uncomfortable it is to have to cycle across those wide yellow lines that are so numerous on the hard-shoulder lane. They say that the unsmooth, pebbly road surface is most discommoding. All I can do is cringe with embarrassment.
If we, as a country, are serious about tourism in an ever more competitive market then we must have facilities that are of the very best. It’s not just about taking their money. It’s about facilitating them in every possible way and it’s about maximising their happy recollections as our spokespersons on their return home.
We don’t have cycle lanes and we have but few cycle parking bays. We have failed to heed the wise words of Tadhg Crowley.
It’s time our ministers and our Oireachtas members woke up to the reality that only highest standards will suffice. There is a vast range of countries offering finest facilities and highest standards. We must seek to outdo with excellence of our product. Anything less and we are doomed.
* Cllr Michael Gleeson, a member of the Kerry Independent Alliance, is a long-serving member of Kerry County Council for the Killarney Municipal District.
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