Westmeath County Council marked further progress this week in the development of cycleways around Mullingar when it opened the newest phase of the town’s cycleways on the Royal Canal between Harbour Bridge and the Dublin Bridge. The ceremony was performed on Friday June 4 by Cllr Fintan Cooney, cathaoirleach of Westmeath County Council as part of the Active Travel Mullingar Project.
In 2009, Westmeath County Council, in association with a Failte Ireland initiative, opened the first phase of 117km of cycle routes around Mullingar with 6 km linking Mullingar to Ballinea along the Royal Canal.
“The council is hoping to deliver a long-term strategy for sustainable movement in Mullingar based on a green route strategy and smarter travel policy,” said Cllr Cooney.
“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 project aims to use designated lengths of the Royal Canal towpaths and to persuade people to walk or cycle to their destination along the canal towpaths as alternative routes, allowing access links from the canal towpath to strategic points within the town, such as to schools, retails centres and sporting venues.
In 2010 Westmeath County Council was successful in securing grant funding from the Department of Transport for the amount of €230,000 over the three year implementation period of the project, with a requirement for match funding. The main work involved in delivering on thi project involves the upgrading works to specific lengths of the Royal Canal towpaths over the timeframe and the project will also involve information and education campaigns.
In this regard, the first phase of the project, between Dublin Bridge and Harbour Bridge is now complete and ready for cycling and walking activity and will be promoted in the coming months through information and education campaigns within primary schools, secondary schools and the wider community.
The “Active Travel Mullingar” project is made up of two separately funded projects, which are being led by Westmeath County Council with partner agencies including the Westmeath Sports Partnership, the HSE and Waterways Ireland. The second, and larger project is set to deliver 20 kilometres of cycle lanes in Mullingar and environs and is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF ). The work on these cycle routes is currently underway on the Delvin Road and is being carried out by the staff of the Mullingar Area of Westmeath County Council.