Phase III Upgrading of Royal Canal Towpath -from- Pipers Boreen to Boardstown Bridge 2.1km

The promotion of Sustainable Transport solutions, including clean transport modes is a key component of the National Development Plan (NDP) and investment in green transport corridors for walking and cycling is one of its key transport goals. The achievement of such goals is critical, if Ireland is to meet its international obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

 

In implementing National Smarter Travel Policy, Westmeath County Council and its strategic partner agencies, Waterways Ireland and Westmeath Sports Partnership are utilising the resource that is and the safe surroundings of the Royal Canal towpaths around Mullingar Town as an ideal platform for promoting safe cycling and offering opportunities for safe training areas for new cycling enthusiasts.

 

Approved grant funding from the Department of Transport in the amount of €247,180 over 3 years and match funding of €56,000 per annum from Westmeath County Council, the overall project proposal is to provide cycling and walking infrastructure along specific sections of the Royal Canal towpaths around Mullingar town, in collaboration with Waterways Ireland and Westmeath Sports Partnership.

 

The project aims to provide the necessary safe off road cycling infrastructure that will encourage and promote increased cycling and walking activity in the Mullingar area and to encourage commuters to park their cars on the outskirts of the town and either walk or cycle to their destination in town.

 

Over the course of the three year project, branded bike shelter facilities are being installed at strategic points within participating primary and secondary schools and around Mullingar particularly at shopping centres (2).

 

The integral “Bike Start” training within participating primary and secondary schools and walking and health education within local communities are being delivered via Westmeath Sports Partnership Ltd.

 

Westmeath County Council is proactively seeking to deliver a long-term strategy for sustainable movement in Mullingar, based on a Green Route Strategy and Smarter Travel Policy. This strategy seeks to reduce pressure on the environment and to offer alternatives to travelling by car, promoting safe travel, improving health and increasing tourism.

 

The vision is to establish Mullingar as a sustainable movement centre, using best practice principles with a view to promoting “Green Routes” to achieve sustainable growth both economically and physically, thereby promoting safe travel, improving health, reducing emissions and increasing tourism in the greater Mullingar area.

 

The main aims of the “Active Travel Mullingar” project being managed by Westmeath County Council are:

  • To establish Mullingar as a sustainable movement centre, using best practice principles.
  • Promoting “Green Routes” in order to achieve sustainable growth both economically and physically.
  • Reduce pressure on the environment
  • Offer realistic and viable alternatives to travelling by car.
  • Promote safe travel
  • Improve health
  • Increase tourism in the greater Mullingar area.

 

 

The Active Travel Mullingar Project is delivering on several objectives and policies within the Westmeath County Development Plan 2008 – 2014 which supports the development of pedestrian and cyclist routes.

 

The Project is providing lasting impact via infrastructural works in developing the cycle paths along upgraded Canal Towpaths and the installation of branded cycle shelters in participating schools and around Mullingar town also.

 

The information, awareness and education campaigns are an integral part of the implementation process for the “Active Travel Mullingar” project and already 12 Primary and Secondary Schools in the Mullingar area (5th & 6th Classes & transition years respectively) have signed up to participate in the project. To date, over 700 children have been trained how to cycle and cycle safe, including general knowledge aspects of safety equipment and bike maintenance.

 

On the walking  element of the Active Travel Mullingar Project – a new Walking Group has been established in Mullingar and this programme will be extended into the community setting to encourage more and more people to get involved in walking and reaping the benefits of being involved in healthy and activity-based programmes

 

The Active Travel Mullingar Project under  the Smarter Travel Project funding stream, has so far delivered:

  • Phase I, II & III – incorporating two sections  (totaling 4.122kilometres) of Canal Towpath upgraded to promote cycling and walking in a safe environment
  • 6 Trained Bike Start Tutors
  • 12 schools signed up to participate  in the project
  • Over 1,000 school children trained to date.
  • Ongoing educational “Bike Start” programme in schools via 5th, 6th and transition year student population.
  • Upgraded Canal towpaths being used as part of the training programme.
  • Upgraded Canal towpaths now being extensively used by pedestrians and cyclists.
  • New Walking Group established in Mullingar.
  • Installation of branded Cycle Shelters in participating schools and at strategic locations around Mullingar.
  • “Active Travel Mullingar”  branded van for dedicated use on the education aspects of the project.
  • New & exciting dedicated  Active  Travel Mullingar Website www.activetravelmullingar.ie to be launched shortly.
  • “Active Travel Mullingar” Project a central focus for National Bike Week Celebrations in Mullingar
  • Increasing the possibility of National/international cycling events as a result of the project focus on cycling and infrastructure being provided.  (National  Criterium Cycle Race held in Mullingar in 2011 and  earmarked for 2012)

 

The upgraded cycling and walking infrastructure provided thus far in Mullingar is the platform for the continued success of the Active Travel Mullingar Project, which, supported by ongoing information, awareness and educational campaigns, will promote knowledge and practical understanding of the principles of safe cycling and walking, including road safety, while encouraging student confidence in their cycling ability, through continued use of the infrastructure in place,  thus resulting in more children and adults in Mullingar cycling and walking, with the “Bike Start” educational element of the “Active Travel Mullingar” Project continuing within participating schools.

 

The new and dedicated “Active Travel Mullingar” Website will underpin the continuity of the project and provide information on active travel planning to any facility within the “Active Travel Mullingar” project area, will promote the health benefits of walking and cycling, show bike maintenance tips, CO2 calculator etc.

 

The new and innovative “Active Travel Mullingar” brand brings home the message of there being realistic and viable alternatives to travelling by car in Mullingar and provides the possibility of replication of the Active Travel Project in other areas in the county.

 

The “Active Travel Mullingar” Project has received a National Commendation at the recent Chambers Ireland “Excellence In Local Government Awards 2011, which is a very welcome and well earned acknowledgement of the value of the project and its ability to provide lasting benefits into the future for our environment, for our health and well being and our society in general.

 

This entry was posted in News. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.