Vision

© Gardiner Mitchell/Tourism Ireland

Vision

The National Cycle Network (NCN) focuses on linking cities and towns of over 5,000 people with a safe, connected and inviting cycle network. It includes plans to create cycle routes to destinations such as transport hubs, centres of education, centres of employment, leisure and tourist destinations. Where possible, it will optimise the potential for people to cycle as part of their daily activities, such as work or educational commuting. It will also integrate with existing and proposed cycle infrastructure. Both road safety, and the safety and security of users, will be central to the development of the NCN.

The NCN builds on previous work completed by TII and aligns with the work being undertaken by the National Transport Authority (NTA) in developing urban and county level cycle networks. It integrates with other cycle routes and networks in various stages of development, including the EuroVelo routes, greenways and the Strategic Plan for Greenways in Northern Ireland. The NCN plan will complement these other cycling development projects and will provide a core spine that other networks and routes can connect to.

The NCN aims to generate a number of benefits for cyclists and communities across Ireland, including:

  • Being the core cycle network for Ireland, connecting towns and destinations to which other cycle networks will connect.
  • Acting as a multifunctional network available for commuters, leisure users and tourists.
  • Establishing a coherent and coordinated network that integrates with existing and proposed cycle routes being developed by TII and other bodies.
  • Helping inform how local authorities prioritise Exchequer-funded investments in cycle infrastructure.
  • Making use of existing infrastructure wherever possible including greenways and declassified roads where there is enough space to provide safe and appropriate cycle facilities.
  • Providing high-quality cycle infrastructure to promote safety, comfort and increased participation in cycling. Minimum design standards will be developed for how the network will be built.
  • Clearly signposting the network to identify and distinguish it from other cycle facilities.

Approach

The proposed NCN has been developed following consultation with key stakeholders, as well as extensive research and analysis of best practice internationally. Through this engagement, including discussions with cycling representative bodies, the draft NCN plan has been developed.

Key stakeholders include the Department of Transport, the National Transport Authority and the County and City Management Association, as well as Sport Ireland, Cycling Ireland, Fáilte Ireland and Waterways Ireland. User groups engaged include Cyclist.ie and Cara.

The approach to the plan is structured around a five-stage process outlined below. We are currently in Stage 4 – Public Consultation.

Following our analysis of public feedback, a report will be completed in August 2022 on the proposed NCN incorporating the feedback received. Detailed plans for the roll out of the NCN over the coming years will then be developed.

Stages of the proposed NCN

Future Delivery

The NCN will guide the development of cycle infrastructure in Ireland over the coming years. The NCN itself will be delivered via a series of rolling, five-year phases by local authorities based on a range of criteria including:

  • Quick delivery – corridors already in planning/construction stage
  • Demand – high usage corridors based on proximity to or connection of cities/large towns
  • Existing gaps – incomplete sections of corridors with significant existing infrastructure
  • Regional balance – provision of infrastructure across the country, not just in high population areas

An initial assessment will identify corridors to be delivered in each implementation phase. The assessment will be verified through consultation with local authorities to confirm deliverability of the various routes within the timeframes outlined. The first implementation phase will run from 2023-2025. Subsequent phases will run every five years – starting in 2026-2030.

Infrastructure

The NCN will define a high standard of infrastructure provision to provide safe, comfortable and inviting cycle routes for users. These standards will be informed by a number of different guidelines, including:

  • TII’s Rural Cycleway Design standards
  • NTA’s National Cycle Manual (NCM)
  • Design Manual for Urban Streets (DMURS)

The NCN routes will be composed of various infrastructure types (e.g., greenways, segregated cycle tracks, shared road) depending on the location and use case, but the emphasis will be on providing a safe environment for all users. While work on determining what shared road infrastructure might be is ongoing, examples of segregated infrastructure include:

Cycle Trail (greenway)
Cycle trail (greenway): A facility which is distinct from the road corridor and comprised of elements such as canal tow paths, disused railways and other such paths.

A facility which is distinct from the road corridor and comprised of elements such as canal tow paths, disused railways and other such paths.

Off-Road Cycle Way (segregated from road way)
Physically separated from the road carriageway by a verge or some other form of physical segregation; however, it remains within the road corridor.

Physically separated from the road carriageway by a verge or some other form of physical segregation; however, it remains within the road corridor.

Standard Cycle Track (at-grade)
Physical segregation between cyclist and motorised vehicles through bollards.

Physical segregation between cyclist and motorised vehicles through bollards.

Standard Cycle Track (raised)
Physical segregation by full kerb height between cyclist and motorised vehicles.

Physical segregation by full kerb height between cyclist and motorised vehicles.

Standard Cycle Track (behind verge)
Grass or paved verge separating cycle track from carriageway.

Grass or paved verge separating cycle track from carriageway.

Standard Cycle Track (two-way)
Physical separation from carriageway by dividing verge. Physical separation from footpath by verge or height difference.

Physical separation from carriageway by dividing verge. Physical separation from footpath by verge or height difference.