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Karl Fogarty and Senator Roisin Garvey leading out on the Shannon Cyclability Audit organised by the Love Shannon Community Council. Included in the peloton are Hendrick Ketelar, a native of Holland, and John Drysdale of the Scouts at rear and students of St Caimin's Community School. Looking on are Derval Glendon Garry, St Caimin's Community School, David Browne, Niamh O Callaghan and Frank O'Hanlon of Love Shannon Community Council. Photograph by John Kelly.

Cycling audit looks to get people back in the saddle

Plans to realise Shannon’s full potential as a cycling-friendly town being developed in partnership

A PLAN for Shannon to potentially become the country’s most cycling friendly town is currently being developed, and Senator Róisín Garvey visited last week to help complete a cycling audit of the area.
The Love Shannon Community Council, the Leisure Centre, the local cycling club, Shannon scouts and pupils from St Caimin’s were all involved in last week’s initiative.
Niamh O’Callaghan of Love Shannon Community Council said efforts to improve local cycling facilities have been ongoing for a couple of months.
“It all started from an Active Clare zoom call which Róisín Garvey organised with the Transport Minister a few months ago. Then myself and John Drysdale from the Scouts had a follow up Zoom with Róisín and then we started a cycling campaign, where we sent emails and posters to all the schools and to the Chamber and we asked them to circulate those to kids and employees to cycle to school and work.”
She said that one problem that has been identified is a certain lack of continuity on cycle lanes around the middle of the town.
“One of the main things is that while we have fantastic infrastructure in Shannon and the roads are quite wide, the cycling lanes aren’t continuous.
“For example there are cycle lanes on either side of the road near the Comp, but when you turn down towards the Garda Station there’s no cycle lane.”
Niamh added, “We wanted to do a cycleability audit to look at the infrastructure and hopefully it’s going to lead to a better and safer cycling infrastructure around Shannon, segregated and maintained lanes.
“Unfortunately on a lot of the cycling lanes around Clare, a lot of the times the level of the road isn’t great. Cyclists from the local club here say they often aren’t smooth, not just talking about Shannon, but Clare in general.”
So-called ‘cycling buses’ have been in operation at certain schools in recent times, with children joining a wider group of cyclists at designated spots, under adult supervision, and Niamh says it is hoped to get these going locally.
“One of the things we’d love to do as well is have cycling buses for each school. Róisín Garvey and John Moloney did that a few years ago in Ennis and it really encouraged kids to cycle to school.
“In Shannon the town is very flat if you’re not living on the hills at Drumgeely, Tullyglass or Tullyvarraga, it is a very cycleable town.
“Also we want to discourage parents who are picking up their children from parking in cycling lanes, to recognise it is a cycling lane, it’s not there for a parent to park in, while they’re picking up children. That makes it incredibly dangerous for a child who’s trying to cycle home.”
It is also hoped that local companies will encourage employees to cycle to work, and Niamh says that greater repair and maintenance facilities are being sought.
“We’ve applied to the Council for four bicycle stations, that’d have pumps and repair equipment, in case you had a puncture or the chain came off.”
Bike maintenance classes are being planned for June, while Shannon Leisure Centre will have some cycling related initiatives.
Senator Garvey was also brought to see the Points on the Estuary, to explain the potential for a Bunratty-Shannon greenway.
Last week’s cycling audit will hopefully be used to carry out a local mobility audit, and Niamh feels given its layout, Shannon is very suitable for a great increase in cycling.
“The education facilities are very close in proximity to very populated areas, and it’s primed for, for want of a better phrase, a cycling revolution; to get people back on their bikes.”

By Owen Ryan

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