Navan Cycling Initiative’s submission for the Draft Slane Public Realm Plan 2022. See more information here.
We are writing to you on behalf of the Navan Cycling Initiative, a community-based group based in Navan advocating for improved cycling infrastructure. Navan Cycling Initiative is a member of Cyclist.ie (www.cyclist.ie), the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, which is the Irish member of the European Cyclists’ Federation (www.ecf.com). Our aim is to make cycling in Navan and surrounding areas safe, enjoyable, and popular.
We welcome the Draft Slane Public Realm Plan 2022 plan and the proposals to improve the design of streets and public spaces in the village. Slane is set in a wonderful location in the heart of the Boyne Valley on the banks of the River Boyne, with many cultural and archaeological sites in the area. It also has great potential to become an ideal visiting spot along the route of the upcoming Boyne Greenway.
Lack of cycling infrastructure
In Section 5.4 of the draft plan document, it states:
“Having reviewed segregated and integrated options for cycling, it has been determined that due to the space available, segregated cycle lanes will not be feasible.”
To improve the current situation, the design of the streets in the village centre should help minimise vehicle speeds and make for a more comfortable cycling environment. Cycling is shared on the carriageway which will be reduced in width. Crossing points will be improved with increased and provision of cycling parking facilities.”
We are very concerned by the omission of cycling infrastructure in this proposed public realm plan. This is incredibly short-sighted considering The Boyne Greenway will be going through Slane in the next few years. The Boyne Greenway has the potential to be a game changer for the entire region and bring massive benefits to the local community and economy alike.
The village has huge potential to become an ideal hub and ‘must-see’ destination along the route of the Boyne Greenway. By creating safe, segregated cycling and walking loops to the village centre and to Slane Castle, this is a huge opportunity to complete transform the village.
Leisure & Recreation
In Section 1.1, Executive Summary, The Public Realm Plan states one of the objectives is to:
‘Promote new pedestrian and cycling recreational links to the main cultural heritage in the area with opportunity to link the village to the Boyne Greenway’
Yet in the plan itself there are no cycling links to the village from the Boyne Greenway.
The above image shows the main connection point from the proposed Boyne Greenway (Slane Bridge / N2) to the village centre*. There is no provision for safe cycling here and cyclists, including young children, will still be expected to share the road with vehicles, which is simply unacceptable. This will actively discourage families and tourists from stopping at Slane and spending time in the area.
* We note that the Boyne Greenway and Navigation Scheme is still currently at the Public Consultation stage, and at the time of writing the emerging preferred route has not yet been identified. In the image below, there are four potential route options for The Boyne Greenway at Slane. The B2 (purple) route goes through Slane on the north bank of the river, however we believe the likely route will be one of the three options on the south bank.
The Village Centre
Congestion is mentioned as being a major issue in the village centre. One proven method of reducing congestion is to provide safe cycling infrastructure and give those who would not regularly cycle an alternative to the car.
Simply saying there isn’t enough space available for cycling, while at the same time keeping the same amount of road space for vehicles and parking is unacceptable.
In the above image showing Slane village, on street parallel parking has been retained on both sides of the N51 and N2 roads (marked in red on the image), with two way traffic lanes. On both roads there is ample room for cycle lanes on these roads.
Cycle Route Assessment Checklist
We used the Cyclist.ie Cycle Route Assessment Checklist to perform a holistic review of the current experience cycling in Slane.
- School trip, residential area from St Patrick’s School
- Leisure, access to Slane Bridge, greenway, cycle route
From this analysis we find that the current experience cycling around Slane is poor, and unfortunately the proposed changes provide no improvement.
Route 1: Residential Area from St Patrick’s School
This route is selected to illustrate the journey of a primary school-age person by bicycle.
On this route, we make the following observations.
1) Side by side cycling is only possible by cycling on footpaths.
2) The road surface is poor in the hard shoulder on the N2
3) People cycling mix with HGVs and other traffic along most of the route
4) The hard shoulder ends or overlaps with bus stops at multiple points
1) Motor vehicles are given priority along the majority of the route
2) No safe right turn at the main junction. Cyclists have to dismount and wait through multiple cycles of the lights in order to cross.
3) The hard shoulder provides some respite, but is blocked at multiple points by signage, loading bays or car parking spaces
4) There is no cycle phase at the junction
5) None of the side junctions provide for cycling
Slane is a beautiful heritage town. If it wasn’t for all the parked cars and HGVs it would be a very desirable area, attractive to locals and tourists alike
Route 2: Leisure, access to Slane Bridge, greenway, cycle route
This route is selected to illustrate the experience of a bicycle journey for leisure or recreational purposes.
- It’s possible to filter left at the signalised junction – however this can be dangerous due to lack of space beside motor vehicles
- If the lower gate of Slane Castle was open, this would provide a more direct route
- There is no protected cycle infrastructure along the route
- There is no leisure signage for walkers or cyclists
- The roadway is designed exclusively for motor vehicles
- There are conflicts along the entirety of the route
- The bridge over the River Boyne is an attractive area. Unfortunately, the cyclist is required to mix with motor vehicles, and therefore needs to pay constant attention to the surrounding traffic
- There is no bike parking
We welcome the opportunity to provide observations on the Draft Slane Public Realm plan. Despite stating that the plan is intended to “increase pedestrian and cyclist comfort and safety”, there are no measures to improve safety, comfort, convenience or indeed any improvement for people cycling in or through Slane.
Given that the planned Boyne Greenway will create increased cycle tourism, it is essential that Slane provides for cycling if it is to realise any economic benefit from the Greenway.
Navan Cycling Initiative