Most of us have probably heard of cycling highways in the Netherlands. These long distance segregated bicycle paths run through suburban and rural areas, making it easy for cyclists to commute into cities and towns. Perhaps less known is that cycling highways also exist elsewhere - for example, in Northern Ireland. Considering NI is not especially famous for its cycling infrastructure or high rates of bicycle commuters, I find this interesting and would like to share my experience.
The place where I am currently staying is about 7 miles from Coleraine- a good sized town by local standards, with multiple shopping centers, a variety of businesses, and a university. It is a major commuter's hub for surrounding rural areas - including the village I am closest to, which is Castlerock. There are two routes from Castlerock to Coleraine. The direct one is along the A2 - a country highway with high speed traffic. The indirect one is along a quiet backroad that meanders along the coast and is quite hilly. When I am on my roadbike riding for sport or recreation, I prefer the hilly backroad. When I need to get into town in my regular clothes, laptop in tow, without being absolutely spent and dripping with sweat upon arrival, the comparatively flat and more direct A2 makes more sense. Luckily, a fully segregated mixed use cycling/pedestrian path runs along the entire length of the country highway.