Irish motoring spokesman questions if bike hangers are “an excuse to sabotage car use”

— Hangers used on residential streets by residents, fitting 6 bicycles in one car parking space  

Bicycle hangers which aim to provide secure bicycle parking to residents of inner city Dublin could just be “an excuse to sabotage car use”, according to Conor Faughnan, the director of consumer affairs of motoring group the AA.

He said: “And what concerns me is, are the people behind this actually taking up a parking space, almost in an act of spite?”

He made his comments — which mirrors his previous comments on the quays cycle route — on The Last Word with Matt Cooper on Today FM late last week.

The bike hangers are being trialled by Dublin City Council’s DCC Beta Projects, a project of the city architect’s office which is trying on-street projects ranging from street art to bicycle facilities. The project team has detailed the reasoning for the hangers on their blog — highlighting the lack of space in city centre residential areas.

The project blog also highlight how little space the hangers take up compared to a car space, but they do not put taking up a car space as an aim or benefit of the hangers.

The DCC Beta Projects blog says: “…a car is probably parked on the residential street something like 50-95% of the time. With that assumption and factoring in that the above bike hangar only occupies about 50% of a car space, it’s likely that a bike hangar actually occupies the SAME or LESS street space than an average car. For simplicity of this trial, we’re going to consider it ‘using up’ the same amount of public street as a car.”

Bikehangar8-300x199Faughnan however said that the goal could be to displace cars and claims “we’ve seen this in Dublin a lot.”

“The bike hangers are not a bad idea… but why take a parking space? And what concerns me is, are the people behind this actually taking up a parking space, almost in an act of spite? As if that was a virtue in itself. Or are they actually looking to provide for cyclists?,” Faughnan said on Today FM.

He said: “Over 12% of AA members call themselves regular cyclists as well, and I am one of those. Everybody is in favour of improving cycling facilities, I don’t know a single person who is against it. But I’d just quiry why we are looking to displace cars, unless we think that is a virtue in itself?”

On the same show, Shane Foran of the Galway Cycling Campaign said: “If we are going to expect people to cycle to work, they have to have somewhere to park their bike. People have invested a lot of money in the bike to work scheme with the help of the taxpayer. At the same time we have had building practices where we were building a lot of high density accommodation in our towns and cities where quite often the storage facilities were simply not available. And we also have issues with people living in terrace houses.”

Faughnan said that the Bike to Work scheme and the public bicycle share systems in Irish cities have been positive, but he added: “If it’s a constructive measure designed to improve cycling facilities, then fantastic… But what I’d council against — and we’ve seen this in Dublin a lot — is do not use cycling facilities as an excuse to sabotage car use. Look to provide for its own sake and in its own right. So, I say bike hangers, absolutely. Loads of space for them everywhere, but it’s not necessary to displace a car space in order to do it.”

MORE: The Last Word with Matt Cooper: Listen Back, 29th January 2015
MORE: Dublin City to trial on-street bicycle lockers for residential areas

3 Comments

  1. Dublin Cycling Campaign (DCC) was on 98 FM with a news item by Maria Shannon on Friday 30 Jan about this same project. We welcomed its trialling in residential areas where residents have no space to even swing a cat in their boom-time apartments. We criticised planning specifications for bike parking.

    If a car-parking space has to be withdrawn so be it. After all the NCBI does not want any more impediments on pavements.

    We stated that it was time that cycling was given parity-of-esteem with car parking in our city.

  2. More astounding doublethink from Conor Faughnan. “I’m totally in favour of cycling and will oppose it every step of the way.”

    He’s still trying to reinforce motoring as normative in the city centre. Meanwhile, there are plenty of motorists in the city centre who are happy to ditch their cars where practical alternatives exist (e.g. GoCar). Because bicycles are the most economical use of street space after walking, bike hangers are likely to free up more space than they use

    And why use a parking space? Look at any residential city centre area – the majority of street space is given over to car storage. The footpaths are often single-file. There isn’t a suitable alternative in the neighbourhoods the hangars are planned for.

    Hopefully the growing absurdity of his stance is a sign that the case for public transport and active travel is slowly gaining traction.

    Meanwhile in London, the (UK) AA supports ambitious plans for cycle infrastructure that – shock horror – will reduce the number of motor traffic lanes.

  3. Dear Conor, all those cars that are parked on on the street in front of my house are blocking the space that I might want to use for storage stuff, like, oh, I don’t know, sofas and old fridges and stuff. Why can’t I do that?

    It’s utterly bizarre that Conor Faughnan (and most people, to be fair) seem to think that public spaces should be provided for private cars. All that on-street parking does is clog up the streets. When I was a kid I used to play on the streets in front of my house. Nowadays kids can’t play on the streets because of all the bloody cars that are everywhere.

    It’s almost as if Conor Faughnan sees providing car-parking facilities as a virtue in itself. It’s also as if he’s trying to undermine providing proper cycle facilities. Surely not……

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