By Ron Johnson, Momentum

It is wonderful to see cities and countries across Europe making aggressive climate action plans and including cycling as an important component. Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) recently announced that consolation is underway on its new 3,500-kilometre cycling network that will link 200 villages, towns, and cities across the country.

The network will not only benefit residents of Ireland, but it will also be a boon for local tourism as active travelers from around the world will take note of the network and add the beautiful country to their collective bucket list.

“The expansion of our cycling network is key to enabling everyone, young and old, urban and rural, to enjoy and make the switch to cycling. Whilst we will continue to invest in Greenways like the Galway to Dublin route currently under development, this is not only about providing cycleways for long-distance cyclists,” said Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan, in a press release. “This proposed network’s focus is on everyday travel and use — connecting village to village, town to village, city to town. It’s another step in connecting our communities, to enable and encourage as many of us as possible to choose the bike when traveling. The network will connect to other sustainable transport modes, enabling further onward travel using the bus, train and by walking.”

The network will corporate some existing greenways as well as those that are planned but not yet built-in addition to a range of proposed new routes. According to TII, the network will “complement and integrate local cycling development projects and Greenways.” As a result, cyclists will not only be able to travel by these villages, towns, and cities but also make their way to the town centers as part of the network.

The goal of the network is to make it easier and safer for more people to cycle for commuting, leisure, and tourism, reducing reliance on the car. And, of course, lowering carbon emissions and combating the climate crisis as a result.

“The NCN will provide benefits for cyclists and local communities across the country,” said Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton. “It will help commuters, leisure users, and tourists to choose to cycle, encouraging a modal shift to a healthy form of travel and helping to reduce carbon emissions from transport. The NCN will be made up of accessible, sustainable, and high-quality routes. Both road safety, and the safety and security of cyclists, will be central to its development.”

Ireland is also home to a EuroVelo route, which follows along the coastline of the country and is gorgeous. The proposed network fills in the gaps and is much more oriented toward sustainable transportation.

As part of the European Green New Deal, in 2020 the European Commission set an ambitious target of a 55 percent cut in emissions by 2030. The EU in turn has tasked its member countries, including Ireland, with the creation of climate plans to meet those objectives. Many countries are embracing cycling and creating plans to encourage residents to take up cycling as a way to reduce driving motor vehicles.

In Ireland, the development of a National Cycle Network is in line with the government’s Climate Action Plan (Action 232) which commits to developing cycle networks in Local Authority Plans.

The consultation period for the NCN is open from May 4 to June 7, 2022.

The plan is for the network to go for ministerial approval in the fall, which is in line with Ireland’s Climate Action Plan. And it will move quickly into the implementation phase.

For more information, visit https://momentummag.com/ or visit Transport Infrastructure Ireland at https://www.tii.ie/

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