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Government Unveils Ambitious Plan: 3,500km National Cycling Network to Connect Over 200 Cities and Towns by 2040

The government has unveiled an ambitious plan to establish a National Cycling Network (NCN), spanning 3,500km and connecting more than 200 cities, towns, and villages with populations exceeding 5,000 by 2040. Transport Minister Eamon Ryan, who introduced the initiative, emphasised its role as a crucial component in offering sustainable alternatives to private car usage.

Ryan stated, “Active modes are the most sustainable modes of transport, and enabling people to walk or cycle for their daily journeys is a key element in meeting our decarbonisation targets.” He underscored the government’s deep commitment to decarbonising transportation, expressing confidence in achieving climate objectives through collaborative efforts.

The NCN plan encompasses 85 proposed corridors, with the goal of having 80% of households and nearly 90% of jobs located within 5km of the network. Phases 1 and 2 aim to implement approximately 1,000km (28% of the network) by the end of 2030, while Phase 3 will be executed between 2031 and 2040.

During the plan’s launch, coinciding with the inauguration of the latest extension to the Grand Canal Greenway, Ryan highlighted that over 900km of additional planned and proposed greenways would be integrated into the network. The remaining 2,200 km of the NCN will be established along existing road infrastructure, ensuring segregated cycling paths for enhanced safety.

The NCN will include ‘primary nodes,’ such as Cork, Ennis, Tralee, and Waterford, along with ‘secondary nodes’ comprising medium-sized towns and major tourist attractions. These identified corridors, about 4km in width, provide an indicative alignment for future route development.

Public responses to the plan have been positive, with citizens expressing excitement about using the NCN for recreational activities and exploring new areas. The estimated cost for implementing the NCN ranges from €1,490m to €1,910m, depending on the infrastructure types employed throughout the network.

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