Drive to get us all walking or cycling

Maria Pepper

Published 10/12/2013 | 05:42

WEXFORD cyclists and walkers have reason to celebrate as the Borough Council launches a strategy to get more people pedalling and using shanks' mare.

Wexford cyclists and walkers have reason to celebrate as the Borough Council launches a strategy to get more people pedalling and using shanks mare.

County Manager Adrian Doyle unveiled the draft plan to delighted councillors at a local authority meeting last week.

Green Party councillor Danny Forde offered his congratulations and said he would like to see it in action as soon as possible.

Cllr. David Hynes who cycled to the meeting, called it 'progressive' while Cllr. Jim Allen welcomed in on behalf of Wexford Wheelers.

The draft strategy has been prepared with a view to obtaining funding for new cycle lanes and parking facilities under the Government's 'Smarter Travel' scheme.

It outlines a vision for the development of cycling and walking in Wexford up to 2020.

Eight proposed new or upgraded cycling lanes have been designed and costed to connect with the town's existing cycling routes.

They include Maudlintown to Drinagh; Wexford Quays; Wexford Hospital to the Quays; Park sports fields to Clonard via Wexford Hospital, County Hall and Department of Environment; Wexford Hospital to proposed Loreto secondary school at Killeens; the Wexford Industrial Estate link road; from Clonard to Presentation secondary school via Wexford Park and the Wexford Campus of Carlow IT, and a long-term route to run along the N25 Oilgate to Rosslare Harbour Road.

The plan reflects the Counci's wish to promote cycling in a coherent way.

Car use in Wexford is above the national average and there are growing concerns about health risks from obesity, particularly among young people.

'Walking and cycling can bring many benefits to Wexford and its residents', according to the Council report.

'Investment in cycling and walking has been shown to offer excellent value for money, especially in times of economic uncertainty.'

'A switch from car use to walking and cycling will also help reduce carbon emissions.'

The Council aim is to provide a better cycling infrastructure around the town and to improve safety conditions for cyclists and walkers.

'The strategy will seek to encourage people to walk and cycle more, particularly for short trips,' the report states.

'The overall walking and cycling vision for Wexford is to have more people of all ages being more active in a town that is safer and easier to get around.'

'The goal is to increase the numbers of people walking and cycling to places of work, education and for short and medium local trips.'

It is accepted that the existing cycle infrastructure needs to be improved.

The majority of residential areas are within the 50 kph speed limit zone but speeds will be monitored and further traffic calming measures put in place where necessary.

Increased safety and the perception of safety are seen as a major factor in promoting walking and cycling.

The speed and volume of traffic make the roads feel unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists and attempts will be made to address this.

Senior roads engineer Jim Power said the Government's Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets sets out a new hierarchy for road users within towns.

It gives first priority to cyclists and walkers, followed by public transport and then cars.

In launching the manual, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said: 'There is a growing appreciation that streets are much more than a traffic corridor. They should be places where people want to live and spend time.'

The Wexford draft strategy which will now undergo a public consultation process, envisages more people switching to cycle use as the cycling environment improves.

Jim Power cites an example: 'Take the Maudlintown to Drinagh cycle route. There is a large number of employees in that area. So if a proportion of those could be diverted from car use, that would

The County manager said councillors who wish to make changes to the cycle and walking plan, will be allowed to do so.

'Anyone who has submissions, we will take them anytime,' he said.

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