The controversial new cycleway along College Road in the city is to be amended, following a review of the route by Director of Services for Kilkenny County Council John Mulholland.
In November of last year, a number of works – including a new cycleway – were implemented with funding from the Department of Transport under the Smarter Travel scheme. However, the scheme proved divisive within the local authority, when several borough and county councillors expressed concern over the manner in which it had progressed.
The central issue was a number of ‘build outs’ along the roadside, which narrow the carriageway at certain points on the route. Mayor David Fitzgerald described the works as ‘a classic case of over-engineering’, while Councillor Joe Reidy (FF) said that one of the finest approach roads in the city had been ruined.
The matter came to a head earlier this year, when four members of the borough council walked out of the January meeting, in protest at what they described as the lack of consultation from the council executive. The new review by the council – distributed to members at this month’s meeting for the Kilkenny Electoral Area – sets forth a number of amendments to the existing scheme in order to enhance safety on College Road, and to address the ‘perceived visual conflict issues’.
The amendments include the removal of a number of the build outs on the road, with the cycleway retained as one-way inbound. However, parking on the side of the road opposite the school will no longer be permitted, and instead, there will be an on-road cycleway in the outbound direction.
Traffic calming measures, in the form of a central road island, will be provided to bring motorists’ speeds down to 50kmph. At present, 85% of drivers exceed 75kmph on the stretch of road, according to research undertaken by the council.
A crossing point will be added at St Kieran’s College, while drop-off areas adjacent to St Patrick’s Church and St Kieran’s Church will be enhanced.
In 2009, Kilkenny County Council provided cycle lanes on all radial routes into the city centre, with the exception of College Road. At present, it is the only approach to the city where long-term unpaid parking is permitted.
The review estimates that only 25 students from St Kieran’s College actually drive to school, and that many workers in the city are using the road as a long-stay free parking area. A survey found that over half the cars parked along the road were parked there all day, and that many paid parking places in the city were vacant while College Road remained fully occupied.