Maynooth Cycling Campaign is entitled to represent its views and will continue to do so in the same way as the Carton Avenue Preservation Society. This article is to address a number of Facebook responses to our previous article on the subject.
Maynooth Cycling Campaign is a member of Cyclist.ie, an umbrella for over thirty groups across the country which advocates for increased everyday cycling. 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.
Some of the responses to our earlier article are 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.
We do accept that there legitimate concerns about an additional opening into Carton Avenue and its effect on pedestrians. Maynooth Cycling Campaign has never sought a cycle path or cycle lane. In our article, we refer to a cycle link and what appears to 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.
While the number of cyclists using Carton Avenue 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 as at present it is inadequate for two walkers or cyclists meeting two travelling in the opposite direction.
In response to concerns about the risks from cyclists to pedestrians, in particular elderly pedestrians, 30 pedestrians and 15 cyclists were killed on Irish roads in 2017, the vast majority of which involved collisions with cars. Of those fatalities, the number of elderly was proportionately large. 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.
In relation to the destruction of Carton Avenue, 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 Avenue. The alternative is for visitors to access the town by car or not at all.
Rather than destroying the Avenue, opening it up will make it more accessible to the public. Such permeability is in line with traditional 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.
In relation to the permission for the work, the Local Area Plan for Maynooth 2013-19 clearly shows a link between the proposed housing area and Carton Avenue. 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. Admittedly, the link is described as a ‘pedestrian’ link. However, the promotion of cycling and active travel in general is clearly set out in the County Development Plan. If the proposal was to turn Carton Avenue into a race track for Tour de France cyclists, we would be totally against it. 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.