Kildare cycling group defends support for new pathway onto Carton Avenue

Maynooth Cycling Campaign say some opposition is 'the usual anti-cycling rants'

Conor McHugh

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Conor McHugh

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conor@leinsterleader.ie

Kildare cycling group defends support for new pathway onto Carton Avenue

The controversial new path from Limetree Hall onto Carton Avenue

A group representing cycling advocates in Maynooth has defended its support for a pathway that joins Carton Avenue with a new adjoining housing estate.

Maynooth Cycling Campaign (MCC) has characterised some of the response to their support as “the usual anti-cycling rants from people about cyclists and cycling facilities. This NIMBY reaction is common and is currently happening in Dublin and has been previously experienced elsewhere in Kildare.”

However, they also emphasise that “if the proposal was to turn Carton Walk into a race track for Tour de France cyclists, we would be totally against it.”

Councillors in the Maynooth Municipal District have threatened legal action over the new pathway joining Maynooth’s historic Carton Avenue to the new Limetree Hall housing development. But officials insist they have done nothing wrong in giving permission.

And a petition online calling for the preservation of the 18th Century Carton Avenue has attracted more than 700 signatures.

On October 12, MCC, had expressed its support for a new laneway which is opposed by Maynooth locals, and which, on Facebook at least, lead to criticism from locals who queried everything from why the new pathway had to be so wide, to how are children going to cycle on the road if they aren’t allowed to, to who Maynooth Cycling Campaign are.

MCC responded by asserting that it is entitled to represent its views and will continue to do so in the same way as the Carton Walk Preservation Society, which is opposed to the new development.

The group is a member of Cyclist.ie, an umbrella for over 30 groups across the country which advocates for increased everyday cycling.

Read also: Angry Kildare councillors threaten legal action over controversial Carton Avenue pathway

“We are affiliated to the European Cycling Federation which is a Europe wide organisation promoting cycling as a sustainable and healthy means of transportation. We have never claimed to be a large organisation in Maynooth but our aims include advocating for cycling infrastructure.

“We do accept that there legitimate concerns about an additional opening into Carton Walk and its effect on pedestrians. Maynooth Cycling Campaign has never sought a cycle path or cycle lane.”

Instead they say they support a cycle link. “What appears to be proposed is a shared space for both pedestrians and cyclists. This is similar to what is on Straffan Road south of the Celbridge Road junction.

“Our vision for the link is a safe space for young people to cycle or walk to school away from the heavily trafficked Dublin Road. In response to the suggestion that young people should learn to cycle on the road, last year a young woman cycling in Rathcoffey was killed in collision with a car and earlier this year a teenager cycling from school near Ardclough was also killed. No-one wants to see a repeat in Maynooth.”

MCC also called for a widening of the existing pathway in the centre of Carton Avenue.

“While the number of cyclists is unlikely to be significant, there is an increased risk where cyclists and pedestrians are forced together on narrow paths. The existing path could and should be widened because at present it is inadequate for two walkers or cyclists meeting two travelling in the opposite direction.”

Concerns have been expressed about the risk to pedestrians from cyclists, in particular elderly pedestrians.

MCC point out that 30 pedestrians and 15 cyclists were killed on Irish roads in 2017, the vast majority of which involved collisions with cars, with elderly people at proportionately large number of them.

“The reality is that the risk to the elderly comes from motorised vehicles. No person, young or old, died as a result of a collision with a cyclist in 2017. Such fatalities do happen from time to time but they are rare occurrences.”

MCC compared to comments that Carton Walk was being damaged by the latest development, but noted that “similar comments were made at the time that Carton House was developed as a hotel. Now we have a world class hotel on our doorstep which is an asset for the entire area.

“It would be an additional attraction for guests at Carton to access Maynooth Town by bike using Carton Walk. The alternative is for visitors to access the town by car or not at all.

“Rather than destroying the Walk, opening it up will make it more accessible to the public.”

MCC points out that this is in line with the development of urban areas and with the requirement for permeability in the current Irish design standard for urban areas (DMURS). “Allowing cycling in parks and other green areas is common practise across Europe. It is common practice in Ireland – in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin City and it is common practice elsewhere in Kildare.”

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They also noted that the Local Area Plan for Maynooth 2013-19 “clearly shows a link between the proposed housing area and Carton Walk. This plan was open to public consultation and approved by the elected Maynooth councillors.

“It is difficult to see how anyone can consider the works to be illegal or unauthorised.”

“The promotion of cycling and active travel in general is clearly set out in the County Development Plan. Increased cycling in society is the policy of successive governments and all political parties and children want to do it.

“Child obesity and lack of activity is a major threat to the health of our children. Instead of putting obstacles in their way, we should be supporting them.”

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