Think about a strolling, jogging or biking a 45km path that follows the River Lee in Cork from Inniscarra Dam to Ballincollig, that goes straight by means of the center of Cork Metropolis and on to Mahon, after which winds round Cork harbour to Carrigaline earlier than ending on the sea close to Crosshaven.
This challenge can be an impressive regional asset, making Cork a greater, more healthy place to dwell, work and play.
That is the imaginative and prescient of the Lee to Sea Greenway (L2S) — a secure, protected strolling and biking route linking the area’s magnificence spots with its busiest and most bustling centres and placing them inside straightforward attain of over 200,000 folks.
The Lee Fields, the Regional Park, the Marina, the Blackrock walkway, and the Crosshaven-Carrigaline path are great and treasured elements of the realm. However they could possibly be a lot extra in the event that they had been linked. Accessible to extra, nearer to extra, utilized by extra.
To lift sustainability and improve high quality of life, the L2S needs to be a precedence for native authorities and the federal government.
A map displaying the route of the greenway that may hyperlink Innsicarra Dam to Crosshaven. Pic: Lee to See Greenway
We have to cut back the quantity of automobile journeys by creating enticing and sensible alternate options. Some 157,000 folks dwell inside two kilometres (a 20-minute stroll or five-minute cycle) of the L2S’s envisaged route. A complete of 229,000 folks dwell inside six kilometres of the proposed route.
The L2S will profit folks in each metropolis and county, passing neighbourhoods, enterprise parks, colleges, schools, hospitals, purchasing centres, accommodations, eating places, and cultural and heritage establishments.
There’s a large urge for food for extra different and higher leisure services and better entry to inexperienced house in Cork. The necessity for such facilities was apparent even earlier than the pandemic strengthened how important train and inexperienced house are to our well-being. Pedestrianisation of the Marina, east of the town centre, for instance, has been an unqualified success, whereas hundreds now profit from higher entry and sympathetic improvement of wildflower meadows, pathways, and a playground within the Regional Park in Ballincollig.
The L2S would multiply the worth of those facilities and open up new magnificence spots for folks to find.
It will additionally ship a extremely marketable attraction for the area’s tourism providing, significantly within the rising energetic tourism market. Simply think about the unbelievable expertise it may provide — guests may take pleasure in exploring the Lee valley or Cork harbour, or enjoyment of Cork’s wealthy historic legacy like Spike Island and Camden Fort-Meagher, and afterwards enterprise into the town for good meals and tradition. Lodging and transport connections are already in place: there are 2,200 lodge beds on the doorstep of the route, and bus, rail, liner, ferry, and air connections to the remainder of the nation and continent.
The L2S may additionally play a small however vital function domestically as a part of efforts to avert catastrophic local weather change by quickly decreasing our carbon emissions.
Transport accounts for 40% of Eire’s carbon dioxide emissions, however folks can’t change until we offer enticing alternate options to the non-public automobile. And public transport alone can’t ship the reductions wanted. Electrical automobiles’ lifecycle emissions ship solely modest features over petrol and diesel vehicles however, in distinction, the L2S gives a zero-carbon different for a lot of journeys round metropolitan Cork.
A cycle lane on Washington Road in Cork. Improved biking infrastructure may rework the town as we all know it.
Our main retail and employment centres are situated alongside the route, whereas 48,000 college students and employees at Cork’s schools and an extra 33,000 schoolchildren are all inside two kilometres of the route.
In Vienna and Amsterdam, political selections imply that it’s regular to stroll or cycle to the prepare station or bus cease. The L2S would complement current public transport infrastructure and allow related transport selections right here.
If you’re a driver, the L2S can be in your curiosity – the extra folks stroll or cycle to get round, the much less site visitors congestion and parking demand for drivers.
Put merely, the L2S advantages everybody and is an important local weather mitigation measure in Cork.
By remodeling transport and high quality of life, the L2S may additionally elevate Cork’s competitiveness.
The city regeneration schemes proposed within the Docklands and Tivoli can have enticing, zero-carbon transport choices for residents and staff. So, too, will the hundreds of staff in Cork’s huge new workplace developments which have minimal parking however are close to the L2S.
The transformation to 15-minute cities, the place most on a regular basis journeys are inside a 15-minute stroll or cycle, is already underway in Paris, London, and different main cities. The L2S could possibly be a key enabler of 15-minute neighbourhoods right here.
Metropolis competitiveness or how enticing a metropolis is to international funding and excessive paying jobs is all about high quality of life. That’s why American cities promote their greenways, like New York’s Highline. L2S would likewise increase the area’s worldwide competitiveness.
An deserted railway has been given new life on Chicago’s west aspect. The 606 is an 2.7-mile elevated park and path that was constructed on what was as soon as an industrial prepare line. As we speak, the favored path incorporates a chain of street-level parks, scenic look-out factors, an observatory, and public artwork installations.
The L2S should be constructed to a world-class normal. However what precisely does this imply?
It signifies that adults and kids of all ages and talents should be capable to use it with confidence. It should be comfy for leisure customers and environment friendly for these utilizing it for transport. Wherever doable, folks on bikes needs to be separated from these strolling, as is normal in most European cities. The route needs to be protected against motorised site visitors, with cautious design to make the power enticing, secure and comfy.
To facilitate extra zero-carbon commuting, it’s additionally important that the town part is handled primarily as a type of transport. It should be steady and direct, with good connections to neighbourhoods and companies on the north and south sides of the river.
Calculations utilizing the World Well being Organisation Well being Economic Evaluation Software (HEAT) point out that, even for a low use situation, the L2S would produce an annual financial profit from improved public well being of about €21m per 12 months.
Meaning, the L2S may largely pay for itself in a single 12 months.
Greater use situations may ship financial savings upwards of €50m each single 12 months. This doesn’t even issue within the financial worth from elevated numbers of tourists.
There isn’t any doubt that the L2S represents excellent worth for cash for Irish society. The Lee to Sea will likely be a life-enhancing, carbon-reducing, and money-saving asset for the area and nation. It ticks all of the containers of nationwide and regional priorities methods: it’s sustainable, it helps public well being and bodily exercise, it gives a secure faculty run, it boosts tourism, it’s accessible to all ages and talents, and it raises our financial competitiveness. It’s a compelling challenge.
That’s why we’re calling for the L2S to be a prime precedence in each metropolis and county improvement plans.
A lot of the route already exists; it’s only a matter of becoming a member of the dots.
So, get behind L2S: whether or not you stroll, scoot, cycle, wheelchair, rollerblade or run; whether or not you utilize it for leisure or transport; whether or not you cycle, drive, or take the bus. Simply think about the way it may improve our lives.
Three years from now you may spend your Easter weekend strolling, operating, biking or rolling alongside the L2S.