If all of the planned Greenways/Blueways are built Lowtown will be the point where they split, to Edenderry and to Athy
Cycling facilities, both for commuting, recreation and tourism purposes progressed considerably during 2018.
This culminated with an announcement in late November that a Greenway is being planned that would go all the way along the Grand Canal from the Grand Canal Docks in Ringsend to the Shannon.
Obviously that means it will pass through Kildare, passing through Hazelhatch, Sallins, Digby Bridge, Robertstown, Ballyteague, Rathangan and on into Edenderry.
Kildare County Council has initiated a Part 8 process on this project which should be completed by the end of January next year.
Work is already underway in both Dublin and Offaly.
Greenways have been extremely popular where they have been established in other parts of the country, bringing huge economic boosts to the local areas, to the point of rejuvenating economically depressed areas.
The fact that it will link Kildare to the huge population centre of Dublin will only add to the potential for success.
It will also include the provision of traffic safety measures and signage to facilitate safe pedestrian and cycling crossings and access to shared surfaces at Sallins, Digby Bridge, Landenstown Bridge, Bonynge Bridge (known locally as Healy’s Bridge in Downings) and Robertstown and along limited sections of existing local road network.
The Part 8 notice explains that there are a number of protected structures located within or adjacent to the proposed route, but that no works are proposed to any protected structure, and the proposed development will not materially affect the character of any protected structure.
An archaeological assessment of the Grand Canal has been prepared
The news comes as a plan to create a Blueway via the canal and River Barrow down through Monasterevin and Athy is currently going through An Bord Pleanala.
Momentum has stalled on that particular project at the moment after the county councils in Carlow turned down the planning application for the River Barrow section.
Waterways Ireland has appealed that decision to An Bord Pleanala and a decision is due on it in the first few months of the new year.
It remains to be seen if that appeal succeeds, and if not, if Waterways Ireland is willing to go ahead with building the Kildare section of the Blueway, which will take the Barrow line in Lowtown, Robertstown, and pass through Rathangan and Monasterevin.
Meanwhile plans for the Naas Neighbourhood Greenway continue apace with additional pieces of separated cycling paths being added all the time, in a manner that will, at some point in the future, add up to one big loop.
If there is a fly in the ointment it is the question of funding for all of the above proposals.
The Government is committed to funding the work, and is happy to proceed with them because of the huge economic benefit, but it is a long term aspiration with only small amounts annually.