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Public called to have their say on the new CycleConnects draft proposals for the Midlands counties

Draft proposals for new cycling networks across Laois, Offaly and Westmeath forming part of CycleConnects: Ireland’s Cycle Network are now open for public consultation.

The draft proposals contain County Cycle Network maps as well as Urban Cycle Network maps for towns with a population greater than 5,000.

Urban cycle network maps are, therefore, included for the following Laois, Offaly and Westmeath towns – Portlaoise, Portarlington, Tullamore, Edenderry, Birr-Crinkill, Athlone and Mullingar.

The draft proposals envisage an extensive cycling network across the 22 counties, complementing the cycling plans already developed for the Greater Dublin Area that includes counties Meath, Kildare, Wicklow and Dublin, and the networks identified for the metropolitan areas of Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford.

Together these plans will create an overall comprehensive cycle network for Ireland.

The public’s feedback is now being sought to ensure that the plans correctly reflect the needs of each of the counties.

John Holland, Green Party Local Area Representative for Portarlington-Graiguecullen, is calling on members of the public – especially those with an interest in cycling – to review these draft proposals which include countywide networks, connections to greenways and urban cycling plans for towns.

John Holland, who leads a monthly ‘critical mass’ cycle in Portarlington said: “Many of us are realising the need to move to more sustainable modes of transport as a means of improving our towns and villages.

“There are many benefits from air quality to wellbeing to quality of life and, very importantly, reducing carbon emissions.

“These CycleConnects plans are a big step forward in a vision for cycling in and around the Midlands and I believe will improve our mobility options, our health and our tourism offering.

“These plans involve the provision of modern, safe cycle networks in larger towns and cycling connections between towns and villages throughout the country.

“We have the chance to build a world class nationwide cycling network and we need to grab this chance with both hands. Take a look at the draft cycle networks for your area and make a submission before the deadline of 11th November.”

Minister Pippa Hackett said: “I often talk to people who are fearful of cycling in rural areas because the infrastructure is not in place.

“These draft proposals represent a shift in mindset to cycling as both a mode of travel and a leisure activity. I encourage anyone with even a passing interest in cycling to take a look at the draft proposals for a cycle network near them.”

To view the draft network maps and for details on how to make a submission see National Transport Authority CycleConnects | National Transport Authority Consultation Portal.

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.