Good news for cyclists and cycling enthusiasts in Laois this week as there are plans to increase and improve cycle lanes and other bike friendly initiatives too.
The local authority have plans to invest as much as €450,000 in Portlaoise this year as part of the Low Carbon Town initiative.
But like so much progress it can be painfully slow and not everyone is fully on board with the benefit of the bike, just yet.
Among the problem areas are the train station in Portlaoise where there are inadequate bike racks for commuters.
Even more annoying and dangerous are the parents collecting their children from the schools in the Borris Road who insist on parking their vehicles up across the cycle lanes. Bad form.
The issues have been highlighted by Cllrs Willie Arid and Caroline Dwane-Stanley.
On foot of Cllr Dwane-Stanley’s reps the Council are to write to Irish Rail asking them to provide more bike racks at the station in Portlaoise as the current facility is wholly inadequate and full from early morning.
Laois Today checked that out and as our photo illustrates that’s the case.
Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald said she hoped it doesn’t take Irish Rail as long to address the issue as it did to provide more car parking. Ultimately, it is the Council who had to sort out that one as they are making provision for 100 additional car parking spaces at the development on the CBS lands adjacent to the train station.
Director-of-Services Mr Simon Walton outlined that additional bike racks are also included in their plans for the CBS lands, along with social housing and a new 100 space car park.
Cllr Noel Tuohy said it was a ‘no-brainer’ to support and encourage people to use bikes more regularly and safely.
Regarding the expenditure of almost half a million Euro to enhance cycle lanes throughout the Town, Cllr Dwane-Stanley was quick off the mark when she said that she wanted to “get my spoke in for cycle lanes on the Ballyfin Road.”
Parents parking on cycle lanes on Borris Road
However, Cllr Willie Aird highlighted the problem of parents parking across cycle lanes on the Borris Road while waiting to collect their children.
“We can’t allow people to park on cycle ways, it’s dangerous, it’s forcing cyclists out on to the road and it defeats the whole purpose of the cycle lanes,” said Cllr Aird, with the full support of his colleagues.
He called for the Council to install bollards on the Borris Road in order to stop the illegal parking of cars on the cycleways.
This proposal was seconded by Cllr Noel Tuohy who said that such a move had been a huge success and was working well at the primary schools in Aughnaharna, which is catering for scores of kids on bicycles.
Cllr Aird said that he was glad to see the popularity of cycling returning.
“When we were going to school as kids you had to root in the shed on the Borris Road to find your bike there was so many of them. We need the bollards now on the Borris Road as cars are parking across the cycle lanes while waiting to collect children from school. The bollards are working 110% at the Holy Family schools.”
In reply Director of Services, Mr Walton outlined that the proposal relates to a 230m section of cycleway on the L2133-59 on the Borris Road.
“In 2020, as part of the Portlaoise Low Carbon Town capital works programme, an investment of €450,000 will be made in the upgrading and expansion of the cycle network in Portlaoise.
“Such works will focus on key cycle routes to, from and around the town centre and will also seek to provide additional cycling infrastructure such as cycle stands.
“The works suggested will be referred to the Capital Office and undertaken, as appropriate, in line with other necessary cyclist friendly works in an around Portlaise.
It is an offence to park a vehicle in a cycle lane.