Ireland’s National Cycling Network to Provide 3,500 km of Safe Cycling Routes

Ireland’s Department of Transport has unveiled plans for a new National Cycling Network (NCN) which envisions 3,500 km of safe bike corridors, connecting 2.8 million people in cities and towns across the country.

The new plan is comprised of 85 corridors, including existing and planned greenways in addition to an extensive new network of safe cycle routes planned for existing roads. 

The NCN aims to make it easier for people to make cycling a part of their daily lives, providing links to transport hubs, education centers, employment, and leisure and tourist destinations. 

The plan aims to ensure that 80% of homes and 90% of jobs are located within 5 km of the network by the time it is finished. 

Implementation of the NCN will be on a phased basis. It is envisaged that approximately 1,000 km of the plan (28% of the network) will be implemented by the end of 2030 as part of Phases 1 and 2, while Phase 3 will be implemented between 2031 and 2040.

Minister of Transport Eamon Ryan launched the NCN at the opening of the latest extension of the Grand Canal Greenway between Sallins and Alymers Bridge in County Kildare in January.

When completed, the Grand Canal Greenway will run along the entirety of the 130 km Grand Canal, providing an almost entirely segregated route between Dublin and the River Shannon. 

“It is great to launch this plan today here along the Grand Canal Greenway because it shows that we are already well on the way to developing this new visionary national cycling network, with plans also underway to fast-track delivery of a further 1,000 km of cycle routes by 2030,” Ryan said in a recent statement. 

“This national cycling network will act as a core spine, connecting towns, cities, and destinations across the country with safe, segregated cycling infrastructure wherever feasible.

“I think this will really help to encourage cycling confidence and in turn the number of trips taken by both walking and cycling amongst locals, leisure users, and tourists alike.” 

The Grand Canal Greenway forms part of the existing 400 km of greenways in the country. The NCN calls for an additional 900 km of new greenway routes, while the remaining 2,200 km of the NCN will be provided along existing road infrastructure, providing cycling infrastructure that is mostly segregated from traffic. 

It is hoped that the NCN will allow cyclists to travel in their own space, separated from road vehicles.