Here at Navan Cycling Initiative, we’re passionate about making our area better for cycling. But what about local residents, business owners and parents? At our recent public meeting, we got a chance to find out.
We organised a public meeting with local residents to discuss the current plans for the area, including the upcoming opening of the Boyne Valley to Lakelands County Greenway.
The Navan Cycle Network
Navan Cycling Initiative chairperson Kevin Corrigan kicked off the evening, hosted at St Paul’s primary school on Ratholdren Road, giving an overview of the plans for the Navan Cycle Network, and the progress so far.
The network plan for Navan was published way back in 2013, and a small number of segments have been completed since then – most notably in the Johnstown area.
While Ratholdren Road is part of the planned network, it currently isn’t on the “five year plan” for Meath County Council. For anyone not familiar with this part of Navan, the area has:
- Navan’s only swimming pool and leisure centre, Aura Leisurelink
- The largest park in the town, Blackwater Park
- Two primary schools, and a third nearby
The area will also be the entrypoint for the Boyne Valley to Lakelands County Greenway, a 30km route along the old railway line, through Nobber all the way to Kingscourt. As we understand it, the Greenway is likely to open at the end of 2022, at which point families and visitors will face a challenge getting from the Greenway into the town centre.
The cycle network in Navan is being delivered segment by segment using a process called Part 8 development. This allows Local Authorities to propose projects, and deliver them according to strict rules and procedures. Unfortunately this process takes several years for even short segments of the network.
Another process exists, called Section 38, which allows for much faster delivery of projects, if they fit very specific conditions that limit scope to within the existing road width. During COVID, the Section 38 process has been used widely in other Counties to deliver cycle lanes and other improvements for walking and cycling, within just a few weeks.
NCI vice-chair Ed Moynihan presented some examples of these quick-build cycle lanes, to show what’s possible.
Can Navan be like Copenhagen?
We were delighted that councillors Yemi Adenuga and Edward Fennessy were in attendance, both to share their experiences from a recent active travel educational trip to Copenhagen (organised by the National Transport Authority or NTA) but also to lend their insights and suggestions.
Copenhagen is internationally recognised as being one of the best cities in the world for cycling. But it wasn’t always this way, and Councillor Adenuga noted that it took a number of years before the network started to take shape, and the majority of people got behind it.
How People Travel to School
Ahead of the workshop, we circulated a survey in order to get an indication of how people travel to school today, how far they travel, and how they feel about their journey.
Over ninety parents responded – which was absolutely fantastic! Some of the results are shown below, and there are some fascinating insights in the data that we’ll share in a future post.
Workshop: Options & Ideas
NCI Secretary Dave Anderson presented some options, to get the discussion workshop participants started. Two groups were formed to share ideas, local knowledge and suggestions for improvements.
A number of great insights and observations were made by the groups, including:
- The best route in the morning mightn’t be the best route in the afternoon. Under time pressure on the way to school it’s better to have a fast direct route, whereas in the afternoon, the journey home from school is more social and relaxed
- Connecting estates to make a “filtered permeability” route was seen as a good option, and existing connections between estates are being used today. Signs would be needed to needed so that people could see that there’s a way through
- Any temporary infrastructure would need to be sturdy and segregated – paint or flimsy bollards wouldn’t be enough
- The sheer volume and speed of cars on the Ratholdren Road is a major concern. People speeding and driving dangerously also added to the concern, and parents weren’t happy to let their children face this dangerous situation
- Business owners were unaware of the plans for the Greenway, and that it wasn’t connected to the town, so they would be losing out on potential business
- When looking at options, it wasn’t a question of which route was best, but which route was best for different people and preferences. While Option A has the most positive responses, other options had positive feedback.
The group were really energised about the discussion, so much so that we could’ve continued well past 9pm! It was clear that residents wanted more action, and wanted to make their views and ideas heard.
We intend to work closely with our elected representatives and the active travel team, to translate the enthusiasm and creativity of local residents into reality. If you’d like to stay in the loop, please subscribe to our newsletter.
We’d like to thank all the attendees, councillors Yemi Adenuga and Eddie Fennessy, and especially principal Eileen McGaughey for hosting us at St Pauls school.
If you would like NCI to arrange a workshop with your residents’ association or community group, please email us at email@example.com