A uniformed garda officer last week was, according to three separate sources, enforcing no cycling signs at the East-Link Bridge in Dublin, despite the signs only being suggestions.
The signs at both ends of the bridge state: “Safety notice: Cyclists are requested to dismount and walk bicycles across East-Link bridge via the footpath.”
The Garda Press Office said that it has contacted two local stations and they were unaware of any specific operation.
Gareth Brown, chief operating officer at Egis Projects Ireland, the company which manages the bridge and related tolling, said: “We have a strong working relationship with the local Gardai and are not aware of any Garda presence as you describe either currently or in the recent past.”
Brown said that both the roadway and footpath on the bridge are very narrow, and that for safety reasons it was determined to ask people on bicycles to dismount. He said: “Having looked at different options it was determined that cyclists be asked to dismount, for their own safety, and walk the short distance across the bridge. Signage is in place with this advice in an attempt to discourage cyclists from cycling on the pavement.”
Brown said that Egis welcomes comments or suggestions from the public.
The bridge — which acts as a type of eastern bypass of Dublin city centre — opened to traffic in 1984 under a public private partnership (PPP) arrangement. It is set to return to the full control of its ultimate owner, Dublin City Council, on December 31 of this year. The council did not respond to a request of comment on the issue of cycling across the bridge.
Councillor Ciarán Cuffe (Green Party), who is the chairman of the council’s transport committee, said that traffic should be calmed and cycling encouraged.
He said: “We want to calm traffic and encourage cycling wherever possible in the city. The East-Link bridge is a natural route for cyclists connecting both sides of the city, and it would seem inappropriate to force cyclists to walk rather than cycle across it.”
Cuffe added: “If there are safety concerns they can be addressed by signage and lower speed limits in the short-term.”
Mike McKillen, the chairman of Cyclist.ie, was one of a number of people who witnessed a garda officer on duty at the bridge.
Last Friday he said: “Yesterday, on my way to Dublin Port Tunnel and the airport, a garda with a mountain bicycle was stationed on footpath on south end of bridge and any cyclists were pushing bikes on pavement.”
He said that there was a massive volume of heavy goods vehicles in the area at around 07.40 am on Thursday. Two other reports of the policing of the bridge were recounted on social media, one on Twitter and another on Boards.ie.
McKillen questioned: “But is this failure of Gardai yet again to understand the real safety needs of cyclists?” He said, “Sharrows (large bicycle logos painted on the surface of the centre of the traffic lane) are the proper answer here – cyclists control the lane.”
Egis are the operating company at East-Link, looking after day-to-day tolling and maintenance functions. National Toll Roads Limited (NTRL), which is the name most associated with the bridge, sold off its tolling operations in 2010 — the remainder of the PPP for the East-Link was sold to a Dutch investment fund Dif, while the NTRL operation and maintenance division was sold to Egis.