15 minutes from the Lee-to-Sea Greenway

As the prospect grows closer of a continuous cycle and walking route from the Inniscarra Dam to the harbour, this post assesses how many people and schools are within a car-free catchment area around the route. Two boundaries are displayed, a 2 km zone in which most people will be within a 15-minute walk and a 6 km zone in which most people are within a 15-minute cycle ride of the route. The number of post-primary schools and total pupil roll are separately counted.

These figures matter greatly because car park provision will be immediately raised, with the potential to induce additional motorised traffic to and around the route. In reality, large numbers of people, Bed & Breakfast, hostels and restaurants already lie directly on this resource, with large volumes of existing on-street and business parking space.

  • The proposed Lee to Sea route provides 46 km of mixed woodland, lake, river and seaside greenway, with an elevation range of just 45 m;
  • 157,000 people live within 2 km of the route and 229,000 within 6 km of the route – most could walk or cycle from home within 15 minutes;
  • 60 primary schools with 16,922 pupils lie within 2km and 82 primary schools with 24,012 within 6km;
  • 34 secondary schools with a total of 16,072 pupils lie within 2 km of the Lee to Sea route, and further 3 schools (Scoil Mhuire, St Aidan’s Community College and Douglas Community School) with a further 1,711 pupils lie within 6 km of the route;
  • The route directly connects 37 of Cork County’s 85 secondary schools, with one another, and with the city and sea;
  • 19 hotels offering 2,212 rooms lie within 2km of the route.
Within 2kmWithin 6kmIn Cork City + County
At Work65,43997,103179,890
Primary schools6082342
Primary pupils16,92224,01263,574
Secondary schools343784
Secondary pupils16,07217,78342,893
Hotel rooms2,2122,538>3,943

All analysis was performed with open source software using publicly available data, and all software and data sources are provided in the links at the end – also annotated R code used to generate these outputs. The technical description may be a helpful tutorial in using public data and mapping sources. This analysis was proposed by Orla Burke and Pedestrian Cork.

The Lee to Sea Greenway

The Lee to Sea Greenway route, from the Inniscarra Dam at the West end, through Cork City centre, around the harbour and to the sea at Templecreedy

The Lee to Sea route is set out on the project website, proposing a 45 km route for walkers, runners, leisure and commuting cyclists. Long stretches of the route are close to sea level and essentially flat and potentially extremely accessible to all. The route and rationale are descrbed in a detailed proposal document.

The Lee to Sea Greenway has many prominent supporters, including Cork Cycling Campaign.


The aims of this analysis were to collect and combine freely available public data and maps of the route of the proposed Lee to Sea route in order to determine how many people live within a reasonable active travel distance of the route. These were chosen as 2 km on foot and 6 km by bicycle, with most people within these regions able to travel to the route in 15 minutes or so.

In addition, the locations of all secondary schools were plotted to determine which schools lie within the two zones, and the total pupil roll with active travel access to the greenway.

Key outcomes


Lee to Sea catchment area
The Lee to Sea catchment areas within 2 km (walking) and 6 km (cycling) of the route – click to open a larger image or to download

The route passes within 18 Electoral Divisions where between 40% and 100% of the land area of each ED lies within 2 km of the route, and between 79% and 100% within 6 km. A total of 93 EDs contain some land within 2 km (between 2% and 100%), and a further contain some land within 6km (between 1% and 100%).

Note that several EDs, while within 6km, are on the far side of the Lee with no crossing allowing a direct connection to the route. The populations of Caherlag, Carrigtohill, Cobh Rural, Cobh Urban, Corkbeg, Inch, Rathcooney and Riverstown were excluded from totals, although some people may find the river ferry or other access feasible.

The table below lists the total population resident in each ED, the percentage of land within 2 km and 6 km and (assuming even population density) and estimate of the number of people within walking and cycling distance of the route.

Electroral DivisionPopulationWithin 2kmWalkable populationWithin 6kmCyclable population
Carrigrohane Beg149976%1137100%1499
Bishopstown A2223100%2222100%2222
Centre B2117100%2117100%2117
Centre A868100%868100%868
City Hall A833100%833100%833
City Hall B1191100%1191100%1191
Knockrea B1047100%1047100%1047
Mahon A5066100%5066100%5066
Mahon B493799%4890100%4937
Monkstown Rural1086100%1084100%1086
Monkstown Urban5219100%5219100%5219
Bishopstown B193486%1657100%1934
Bishopstown D149220%295100%1492
St. Mary’s553841%2253100%5537
Bishopstown C4925100%4925100%4925
Bishopstown E325396%3122100%3253
Glasheen A813100%813100%813
Gillabbey C2198100%2198100%2198
Sundays Well A699100%699100%699
Glasheen B716100%716100%716
Glasheen C2733100%2733100%2733
Togher A206462%1284100%2064
Gurranebraher A769100%769100%769
Gillabbey B1103100%1103100%1103
Gurranebraher B588100%588100%588
Fair Hill C361045%1641100%3609
Fair Hill B746100%746100%746
Togher B701100%701100%701
Fair Hill A714100%714100%714
Sundays Well B892100%892100%892
Gurranebraher E1143100%1143100%1143
The Lough1623100%1623100%1623
Gurranebraher D944100%944100%944
Gillabbey A2418100%2418100%2418
Gurranebraher C1053100%1053100%1053
Farranferris B928100%928100%928
Pouladuff B167540%674100%1675
Pouladuff A723100%723100%723
Farranferris C607100%607100%607
South Gate B956100%956100%956
Shandon B1401100%1401100%1401
Farranferris A2044100%2044100%2044
Shandon A1743100%1743100%1743
Ballyphehane A662100%662100%662
Ballyphehane B80642%337100%806
Turners Cross C773100%773100%773
Turners Cross B1196100%1196100%1196
South Gate A2163100%2163100%2163
Blackpool A690100%690100%690
Blackpool B2185100%2185100%2185
Turners Cross D47169%323100%471
Turners Cross A817100%817100%817
St. Patrick’s B1162100%1162100%1162
St. Patrick’s A1611100%1611100%1611
The Glen B369940%1478100%3698
Tramore A793100%793100%793
St. Patrick’s C856100%856100%856
Ballinlough A786100%786100%786
The Glen A246699%2450100%2466
Tramore C296641%1211100%2966
Montenotte A1676100%1676100%1676
Tramore B1039100%1039100%1039
Ballinlough B1757100%1757100%1757
Knockrea A1476100%1476100%1476
Ballinlough C1474100%1474100%1474
Montenotte B2437100%2437100%2437
Tivoli A1667100%1667100%1667
Mahon C3272100%3272100%3272
Tivoli B2756100%2756100%2756
Cobh Rural83530%00%0

Schools and pupils

Lee to Sea school proximity
Schools within 2 km (white) and 6 km (green) of the Lee to Sea route – click to open a larger image or to download

34 secondary schools lie on the route, within a distance of 2km, and a further 3 schools within 6 km. The total pupil roll is 16,072 pupils within walking distance of the route, and a further 1,711 pupils within 6 km.

The route connects, within 2 km, all of: Ashton School, Ballincollig Community School, Bishopstown Community School, Carrigaline Community School, Christ King Girls’ Secondary School, Christian Brothers College, Coláiste An Spioraid Naoimh, Coláiste Choilm, Coláiste Chríost Rí, Coláiste Daibhéid, Coláiste Éamann Rís, Colaiste Muire, Cork College Of Commerce, Cork Educate Together Secondary School, Edmund Rice College, Gaelcholáiste Charraig Ui Leighin, Gaelcholáiste Mhuire, Mayfield Community School, Mount Mercy College, Nagle Community College, North Monastery Secondary School, North Presentation Secondary School, Presentation Brothers College, Presentation Secondary School, Regina Mundi College, Scoil Mhuire, St Aloysius School, St Francis Capuchin College, St Patricks College, St Peter’s Community School, St Vincent’s Secondary School, St. Angela’s College, Terence Mac Swiney Community College and Ursuline Secondary School. Within 6 km are: Douglas Community School, Scoil Mhuire gan Smal and St Aidan’s Community College.

The route lies within 2 km of 60 primary schools with 16,922 pupils and within 6 km of 88 primary schools with 24,012 pupils.


Hotels along the Lee to Sea Greenway route

There are 19 hotels offering 2,212 rooms lying within 2 km of the proposed route, and 23 hotels offering 2,538 rooms within 6 km. This is proposal that offers an attraction to almost every hotel in Cork City and a substantial proportion of all the hotels in Cork County.


Commuter end-points from the Place of Work, School or College (POWSCAR) survey data

There are 29,245 commuters who start or end their journey in the Electoral Divisions through which the greenway passes, and 17,608 of these journeys both begin and end in EDs on the greenway. These journeys are parallel to the proposed route, and potentially represent converts to walking or cycle commuting on the greenway. The map above visualizes all the journeys in Cork City and County with these these 17,608 journeys highlighted in red, showing the 2k and 6km radius around the greenway.

For context 110,632 commuters work or learn in Cork City, 46,011 of whom live and commute within the city and 64,621 who commute into the city from elsewhere. The 17,608 who commute along the path of the greenway represent a large proportion of all commuters, and a huge potential for growth in active transport if their journeys could be safely made on foot or cycle.

Technical details

The maps and table above were produced using the statistical language R and its spatial geography packages rgeos and rgdal – these are directly available in Linux or from package archives for Windows and Mac operating systems.

The route of the greenway was calculated by Google Maps and then exported, using the MapsToGPX online converter, as a GPX file. This GPX route file was overlaid on a map of the Electoral Division outlines available as a shapefile. The ED shapefile was merged with the Small Area Population Statistics census dataset to estimate population access to the route. The ED boundary map is greatly enhanced with a land use display (i.e. forest, urban, mudflat, river, sea), available in the Corinne Landcover dataset.

A complete list of secondary schools is available from the Department for Education, with official school name, full address and Eircode. The school location (longitude and latitude) were available directly from the address for about 60% of schools using the R package tidygeocoder. The remaining locations of schools in Cork were determined by searching for the Eircode on Google Maps and manually adding longitude and latitude.

The full, annotated code used to generate the maps and table above is available as a blog post.


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