I'm going to talk about east Cork a bit, but I think you could probably apply the logic I'm going to use to anywhere in Ireland - but I'm familiar with it. It's the bit more or less from the City to Youghal, with Midleton as the main town in the region.
Recently, the new greenway from Youghal to Midleton got under construction - a dedicated cycle path from one town to the other, similar to the one built between Waterford and Dungarvan. It's along the old train line that used to serve Youghal
I'll leave aside whether the train line from Midleton to Youghal should be restored, let's just assume it won't and there will be a greenway instead forever. (I'd be in favour of it myself because you could easily have a nice commuter line from Youghal to Mallow though the city)
Anyways, here's the greenway. With associated SACs and SPAs
The small villages of Mogeely and Killeagh are along the old train line (while the larger town of Castlemartyr is not on the line, slightly to the south of Mogeely). When finished it should be a fine greenway.
The issues for me start with - as usual - joined up thinking. Here are the indicative plans for where the greenway terminates in Midleton train station (just to the north of the station). In a car park, and a new car park.
This to me reflects an attitude of greenways as point to point features designed for tourists, but not for people living there. But even taking the logic of the region and of tourism potential, you have to wonder about why things aren't more ambitious.
Let's try some examples. Here is Midleton and Castlemartyr. 8km as the crow flies. You can see where the greenway will be between Mogeely and Midleton. Two towns and one village.
Let's go with the tourism. Midleton has one of the most visited tourist sites in Ireland - the Jameson Distillery.

Castlemartyr has a large 5-star hotel.

There will be a greenway from Mogeely to Midleton.

Do you see where I'm going here?
Imagine, for a moment, that said tourists wanted to depart their hotel, cycle to Mogeely, join to greenway to Midleton, drink some whiskey in the distillery, go for dinner, and cycle back... wouldn't that be a nice trip? But you'd have to get from Castlemartyr to Mogeely first.
One thing that always strikes you is how quickly a council will CPO land to build roads, but not so much to join towns with cyclepaths. Here's the road.

The fringe benefit of a joined route would be that actual local people could cycle between towns safely.
But imagine our tourists from Youghal or Castlemartyr arrive in Midleton on bike, intent to visit said distillery. How do they get there? Well... not easily, without risking their lives.
The distillery is about the size of the town. Now if you're a local restaurant or bar in Midleton, I'm sure you'd like some of those tourist dollars to be spent with you - unfortunately the town is not designed for bicycles. The greenway stops on the wrong side of the tracks.
Try navigating this two lane roundabout nightmare to get from the greenway termination to, park your bike, spend your cash in the local restaurants, drink some whiskey and head back. No way. But do... park your... car in the new car park?
So leaving aside the fact that you could integrate local town and villages with each other - none of this makes sense without making it safe to cycle in the town too. And it would arguably increase not decrease trade.
But then if you're building it for tourists, why not for other reasons?

A way to think of it is to build cycling infrastructure good enough so that children can safely cycle to school on it - if it's that good *anyone should* be able to use it right?
Let's do a thought exercise on that note. Midleton has many schools that capture much of the region - what would it take to at least link them all up with good cycle paths, along with main routes throughout the town?
Here's the main ones, two of them brand new (with no real cycling infra), and 3 others, some recently extended.

The objective here would be to ensure anyone above a certain age could safely cycle between them - and in turn to any road, while also being connected to said greenway
Arguments around doing this tend to be circular:

Would you like your kids to be able to cycle themselves to school every morning? Yes

Why don't they? Not safe.

Why is it not safe? Too many cars.

Why too many cars? People driving their kids to school (for example)
That means compromises to get to the objective: all kids should be able to cycle to school safely.

So that means: one way systems, dedicated cycle paths. It means less room for cars, less parking, and slower speeds.
What are the fringe benefits: everyone can cycle everywhere for any reason. Going to the shop. Going to the pub. Going for a cycle because it's good for you. Putting on headphones because it doesn't matter so much when you're on a dedicated safe path.
And .. cycling to the neighbouring village to see a friend. Cycling to a neighbouring town for dinner (AND WINE) and then... cycling home on a cycle path without fear for your life.

*sipping wine here*
Local businesses should be falling over themselves to get this built.

*Sips more wine* Let's take another example.
As the crow flies it's 9km from Midleton to Fota - the 11th most visited tourist site in Ireland. Have you ever wondered if you could cycle there from Midleton? Not a hope really.
What else does Fota have? Another hotel. Why can't people cycle from Castlemartyr, or Youghal, or Midleton to Fota? No cycling infrastucture.

How do local people get to Fota? Driving, taxi or train. But to get the train from Midleton you have to go to Glounthane first.
It's not a long cycle between the James Distillery and Fota Wildlife Park - just there's no safe way to do it. Wouldn't be nice too if locals could also cycle to it?

And sure while you're at it...
*sips wine* why would you not bring people between, Cobh, Fota, Fota hotel, Midleton, Mogeely and Casltemartyr? There's some fab scenery around there too. But you'd need to build good cycleways. Imagine tourists arriving in by ship to Cobh and being able to cycle..?
But better yet imagine - god forbid! - Cork people could cycle from their own home, to spend the day in Fota with the kids, and then cycle home! No car needed.
And another example *sips wine*. Imagine you live anywhere around here and want to cycle to the nearest beach.. with the dog, or what have you. Currently: too dangerous.

Cycleway -> it's just down the road. 10km on a bike is actually a podcast episode away. To the beach!
You could even cycle up to Ballycotton for lunch sure. Or stop in Ballymaloe on the way for some food (it's on the way).

But wait! You could be staying in Ballymaloe, and cycle to Midleton for dinner! Or the beach, for swimming... or Fota... for wildlife. I mean..
It's almost like you could help solve the accessibility of rural villages, while also encouraging connectivity for leisure, and tourism in an nice way. While also allowing, you know, the people that live there to cycle between their towns and villages with no stress.
You could make Midleton a cycling town in the middle of a network. Fringe benefits: children who live in towns and villages nearby could cycle to and from school, passing tourists on the way to the beach, and people cycling to work, or to the train station to get to Dublin.
While also connecting up some of the biggest hotels and tourist sites in the region...

*sips wine*.

We won't even talk about how you should really be able to cycle around Cork harbour - the second biggest in the world.
Or how you could connect that up to Cork city... and other major towns... and sure while you're at it why wouldn't you just put them everywhere.
But as it is what we have is a nice greenway from Midleton to Youghal with carparks on either end.

Cyclists will be asked to continue their journey by car. Cycling into the actual towns isn't safe enough, much to the detriment of local businesses who could see increased trade.
And as I said at the start: this makes sense for any part of Ireland. Connect the towns and villages, make it easy for people on bikes, e-bikes, electric wheelchairs. Make it easy for kids to cycle to school.

We CPO easily for new roads, but I don't see many CPOs for cycleways.
It *blows my mind* that you can't safely cycle to Fota Wildlife Park from any neighbouring town. It's literally right there.

It *blows my mind* that you can't safely cycle to Garryvoe from any neighbouring town. It's literally right there.

And building those paths? Not pricey
Why are we not more ambitious? Or look at the whole picture rather than just looking at how we please tourists?

*gulps wine*
And yes I spent several months living in the Netherlands and it tends to change your perspective on how we allocate space.
There endeth the thread. Cheers!
Oh and a small post script. I took this pic the other evening. The Kindred Spirits monument in Midleton
Now imagine our curious tourists on bicycle arrive in Midleton from Youghal and want to see this famous piece of public art... or maybe that's the reason they cycled there! It's 1.7km to the greenway. Or a 5 min cycle.
Except you can either cycle the main street, or the riverside way route. Neither are at all cycling friendly (and yes you have to get through that two-lane roundabout too. But if the main street *was* cycling friendly, you'd probably spot nice restaurants to eat in on the way
And when said cycling tourists arrive and look at the Choctaw memorial you could tempt them around the fringes of Cork harbour at the existing Ballyannan woods park (already good for walkers). Fringe benefit: everyone living in Midleton is in a nicer town.
But to do that you'd need to make it safe for cyclists to get through this and other obstacles.
This is a brand new slip road between Ballinacurra and Midleton, designed to ease congestion at the roundabout. Shiny isn't it? Well...
This is the road leading up to it. I mean - and stay with me here - I wonder if you could *squeeze* a separated cyclepath in there somewhere? Because if you could, it could form part of the east Cork part of the Cork harbour cycleway.
You'd build this thing for not *huge* money, and bring everyone with you on the journey, farmers, businesses, parents (wait farmers and business owners would also like to see their kids cycle to school right?) And farmers would want to cycle safely to see friends or go shop?
Here is way I try to frame my own thinking - east Cork 2025/30 with dedicated cycle paths across the whole region. Because why wouldn't you?
Consequences: families in Cobh can cycle to Fota (literally beside them but the road is dangerous as hell), or can cycle to Crosshaven, or cycle to Midleton for dinner, or to the beach in Garryvoe. People in Cloyne can go to Fota. Tourists can access all key tourist sites by bike
They don't have all this in very fancy West Cork either. East Cork could be way more accessible.
Oh and parents can make their kids all cycle to school - even if it's in another town. Because it's safe to do so.
And right at the end of this thread (again).. the fact that this is all sensible *before* you even get to the other big benefits:

carbon emission reduction
less toxic fumes (at schools particularly)
obesity prevention
mental health -cycling is good for you
biodiversity awareness
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