– Report says design likely to increase pedestrian and cyclist conflicts
Transport minister Leo Varadkar says engineers assure him designs of a section of the Dublin to Galway cycle route are safe, despite a consultant’s report highlighting increased risk between cyclists and walkers.
“The designs are the responsibility of the engineers who assure me that the proposed routes adhere to safety standards,” said Minister Varadkar.
But safety problems with how the Royal Canal Greenway route crosses the M50 – linking Varadkar’s West Dublin constituency with Dublin City – were identified in a report by planning consultants Atkins.
Fingal County Council and the National Transport Authority (NTA) are standing by their chosen design which puts cyclists and walkers — traveling in both direction — into a narrowed canal towpath attached to an aqueduct above the motorway.
The route is described as a “premium” and “strategic” cycling and walking route, but despite the report saying that the project is likely to generate an increase in pedestrian and cyclist traffic, the “do minimum” options were chosen.
While the population of nearby areas has boomed, recent motorway upgrading has left the towpath untouched.
Atkins’s report said: “There is risk that cyclists may ignore requirement to walk across the aqueduct thus increasing risk of collision with pedestrians and hence safety.”
The situation is mirrored at eastern section of the route at Ashtown train station – where cyclists on the route are also directed onto a pedestrian bridge. The report said: “Requires cyclists to dismount and walk across pedestrian bridge – cyclists unlikely to comply, therefore increased risk of conflicts with pedestrians and/or vehicles.”
A spokeswoman for Fingal County Council said that while public consultation was ongoing “it would not be appropriate for us to comment on these draft proposals.” But she said the design was “assembled taking account of the reality of available funding to carry out these works.”
The NTA said the report points to the “construction of new bridges at the M50 and Ashtown crossings as the “optimal solutions for these locations.”
“The report highlights that these options would attract a significant cost premium. The report recommends that the options presently proposed be adopted, if the cost of providing the bridge options is considered to be too expensive,” said a spokeswoman for the NTA.
“The National Transport Authority considers the cost of providing bridges at these locations to be prohibitive in the current economic climate; hence the Authority and Fingal County Council have adopted the solutions presently proposed. The report also states that the option presently proposed for the M50 crossing represents a good compromise until funding becomes available.”
She said the route will be subject to independent safety audits.
The Dublin Cycling Campaign said they were not against the route going ahead but questioned the choice of design, calling it a “disappointment”.
“They choose the least acceptable option from their own feasibly report,” said Colm Ryder, a spokesman for the Dublin Cycling Campaign. “Overall we are in favour of the route going ahead, we understand that there are financial constrains, but in the context of a premium cycle route it’s a disappointment.
Fingal said public consultation submissions must be made before 5pm this Thursday, March 14. Details of the plans can be found on the council’s website, here.
View Royal Canal Greenway – Castleknock to Ashtown in a larger map
MORE: Royal Canal Feasibility Report for Fingal (large PDF)