Liffey Cycle Route: Council committee asks for all options to be re-examined

Dublin City Council’s transport and traffic committee last Wednesday asked council staff to re-examine all options for the Liffey Cycle Route, rather than focus on the preferred option from public consultation.

Committee chairman, Cllr Ciarán Cuffe (Green Party) said that there was serious urban design issues with option 3 which was the preferred option chosen by Dublin City residents and commuters who responded to the first round of public consultation. Further public consultation is expected when, or if, the project reaches Part 8 planning.

Council officials and the council’s consultants are now to look at issues raised regarding the all options and reevaluate the options before reporting back to councilors in September. As we reported earlier in the week, wo-way cycle route options were supported by 80% of respondents, while the bulk of that support (48%) was for option 3. It’s unclear if any option will be progressed in detail at this stage, as the council had planned to do.

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MORE: Two-way Liffey Cycle Route option gains public support

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Cllr Frank Kennedy (Fianna Fail) said “like a lot of other councillors” he has been contacted by apartment block management companies based on Benburb Street “raise a lot of concerns” which the council should try to alleviate.

Cllr Paddy McCartan (Fine Gael) said he that some individuals had complained to councillors that they were unaware of the public consultation “but it was well highlighted in the media and on television as well.” He suggested that the committee should walk the site to get a better perspective on the project before recommending anything to the wider council.

Cllr Ciarán Cuffe said that the consultation was “flawed” — he said that the detailed drawings took a long time to download so were inaccessible. He said: “What people did see was four images, one of which was bright green and kids practically holding balloons in it and the other three were fairly grey and dreary and I think that influenced the consultation. And I think the consultation was flawed from that perspective. I feel quite strongly on this, possibly because I favour option 1 and I see that option 3 was strongly supported.”

Cuffe added: “I have real concerns about option 3, the Croppy Acre option. There are deep unresolved urban design issues around running a major roadway around three sides of a park and I’m not convinced that they are solvable. I’m very conscious that it’s engineering led and, as far as I can see, we don’t have somebody with an urban design perspective looking at this proposal in detail.”

He said he lives nearby so has studied the plans in detail, and highlighted how the plan would dissect part of one section of a small current park.

Cllr Ciarán O’Moore (Sinn Fein), Cllr Mannix Flynn (independent) and Cllr Teresa Keegan (independent) agreed with an on-site meeting. Cllr Paul Hand (independent) suggested to have experts on hand to explain the historical significance of the area.

Derek Peppard, the Dublin Cycling Campaign rep on the committee, said he would be concerned with delaying the project after there was such an “overwhelming support” for it. He said: “The whole idea of putting a cycle route down the quays would be outrageous 10 years ago and now there’s powerful support for it. I’m just mindful of the negative fact of blocking it, because it is hard enough to get these things through.”

Peppard said that the council officials should be allowed to proceed working on the detail of the project.

Cllr Kieran Binchy (Fine Gael) said he questioned the general idea of deferring but said he would not oppose it. While Cllr Jane Horgan-Jones (Labour) said that if it is deferred that more than just walking about the site should be done in the three months.

Brendan O’Brien from the Dublin City Council transport division said that the council received far more public input from this public consultation compared to practically any other consultation they have done. He said said that they had intended to look mainly at the preferred route, option 3, and that the report on the consultation was mainly to keep the councillors informed. But, because of the reservations expressed, he was now looking for guidance from councillors on how to proceed.

The chairman of the committee, Cllr Cuffe, asked the council officials to look at all the options in more detail and to report back to the committee at their next meeting in September. He also requested that a presentation be made to councillors at the relevant local area committee in early July and to have a site visit around the same time.

The council committee meeting webcast can be watched back at dublincity.public-i.tv, any time in the next 12 months.

17 Comments

  1. Typical, one guy did not get what he wanted so the process was flawed. The others have no clue what to do so drag their feet. I wonder if I will see this route implemented in my lifetime.

  2. The consultation could certainly have been better run. Comments did not appear to be welcome. The massive uncompressed PDF files were very slow to download, open and view. But they were still publicly available. Does that mean the process was flawed? If Cllr Cuffe felt this way, he should have made his views known while the consultation was still running.

    His comment about the pictures that were shown is ridiculous. So what if the most attractive option had the nicest looking picture.

    I’d like to hear more details about the serious urban design issues that he references. I would be very surprised if those issues were more serious than with the current layout.

    As for the Croppy Acre, the park would get a new lease of life from having people actually passing through it. I can’t see how any “urban design issues” couldn’t be resolved through landscaping and pedestrian crossings.

  3. Very disappointed in Ciarán Cuffe’s approach, especially so late in the day, and despite ‘far more public input from this public consultation compared to practically any other consultation’. The potential for the construction of an iconic cycle route to be delayed, or even stopped, is unfortunately increased! This proposed route is a major statement of intent in relation to improvement of urban space in Dublin. It NEEDS TO HAPPEN!

  4. Oriol Demaria June 14, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    I have read the objections to the plan. I think is very wrong to support option 1, which has almost no compromise, and goes in favour of cars, along with option 4 which is a joke.

    If option 3 or 2 can’t be done, because I understand there are technical difficulties and some of the objections make sense, then a 5th option must appear. That would be face that there is NOT ENOUGH room in the Quays for parking and private cars, so divert them to the North Circular Road, Buses and bicycles will be allowed.

    Currently the Quays are like a wall, also for pedestrians that have in some places, specially along the river no way to cross them and really narrow sidewalk. It looks like a 70s city, I even cycle with heavy traffic heading to the port, it’s really hostile to pedestrians and cyclist.

    Option 1 boardwalk is not going to work unless someone would “cut” the bridges and give it continuity, then cyclist and pedestrians would have to “fight” for 20cm² in the exits, or what is likely, pedestrians will invade the cycle lane, forcing the cyclist to keep on the road for practical reasons.

  5. Oriol Demaria June 14, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    I forgot, another option… share the lanes with cars. Not circulating by the side, but in the middle of the lane, so that you don’t bother the buses. I all the 30km/h zones a sign painted in the street should indicate that the cyclist must go by the middle of the lane. This could be implemented “tomorrow”. Problem with this is that the traffic in the Quays is really intimidating. No one respects the 30km/h zones. Not even the buses, unless there is a traffic jam.

    It will have to change the mindset of some cyclists, from marginal space on the left were the trash is to the middle, sharing and respecting the rules. Riding with minimal space with the streetway and the vehicles is really dangerous.

  6. Folks, I’ve written a short blog post about the route here:
    http://bit.ly/1KT9xRn

  7. Ciarán…..I do feel that you are ignoring the fact that we still await a fully detailed scheme, which has yet to be developed. I suggest you are ‘jumping the gun’ with some of your criticism, which may be a little premature!?. Some of the negatives you refer to can also be turned into positives. One has only to look at the changing face of this area over the last 2 centuries, to know that change has been a feature. See http://www.swilson.info/mapsdublincity.php for a range of historical maps!

  8. @Colm Fair enough, but I feel the issue of the apartment block that’s under construction needs to be examined before we develop detailed plans for the scheme. Thanks for the fantastic maps link.

  9. These are the submitted plans for the apartment block that would prevent Option 3, the preferred option chosen by Dublin City residents and commuters who responded to the first round of public consultation:
    http://www.dublincity.ie/AnitePublicDocs/00459716.pdf

    The plan is marked as received by the council on 5 June 2014 and PP was only granted on 3 November last. The proposal to reroute buses down Benburb St had been published on this website in October.

    Some of the questions that now arise:
    1. Why was planning granted by Dublin City Council when they had paid for and received plans that would require this site to be CPO’d. Option 3 seemed to be the optimum way of meeting DCC’s 2017 development plan objective.
    2. Is it too late for the site to be CPO’d if PP is granted and ground works are underway there?
    3. If so, why was option 3 even put to public consultation when this development would render it unworkable?
    4. If it’s not too late, shouldn’t this be escalated so development could be halted rather than deferring until July or September?
    5. Roughly what would a CPO have cost and what is the budget for the quays route project?
    6. How much money has been spent on the quays project so far?
    7. Why was the consultation delayed for so long? Surely this should’ve been flagged as an issue before now?

    On the face of it, this would all appear to have been bungled. With Cuffe as the head of the transport and traffic committee, it seems unlikely that the option that the public voted for will come to fruition. We are likely to have, as per usual, sustainable modes compromised by unsustainable modes.

    The apartment building developers, the Dublin Loft Company, expect the building to be complete by early 2016.

  10. OPTION 3 – A very attractive cycling scheme is published on a cycling website for feedback – it is no surprise there is nearly 50% preference for it… Does anyone remember the story of the Trojan Horse? Ask yourselves why the main part of this plan, the building of a 3 lane motorway on top of a protected park, is not even in the artist rendering at the top of this article?

    Dublin City Council need to get their Roads and Planning departments to actually work with each other and plan for what is best for all citizens, not just their own projects.

  11. @Alan, likening this scheme to a Trojan horse is disingenuous. The plan was published on two council run websites. The plan was well publicised (and in detail) in the Irish Times, RTE and numerous other outlets. This website gave a very detailed review of the different options and the implications for the small park were clear. Although park space would be reallocated as road space, overall the amount of park space would increase. The Croppy Acre would have new boundaries and would get investment and actual visitors.

    Unlike the unsustainable road schemes that scared the city in the recent past (for example, Kevin Street, Clanbrassil Street, Parnell Street, Cork Street), option 3 (more than the other options) would reduce car dependency. It could be implemented with minimal impact on car and bus access to the city centre.

    Why not press for better parks in tandem with the new scheme rather than dismiss it just because it would alter the parks?

  12. Alan —

    The consultation was not just on a cycling website, it was on the main city council site and on its consultation. Before the public consultation there was workshops will city council divisions, business and community groups and the plans were presented to city council committees. The consultation itself was well flagged in advance and again when it was active in local and national media — the park shifting part of option 3 was very much so highlighted. The consultation link was also shared the online offerings of the city council, business groups, community groups, councillors, etc.

    Surveys of the general population of Dublin City have been shown in previous general surveys to be very supportive of cycling schemes and there is a large attractive in having a river-side park, so it’s no surprise that option 3 was selected.

    Re the “motorway” — you’re accusing the council of being selective but you forgot to mention that this three lane road (2 lanes and 1 bus lane) is a reduction from the current four lanes along the quays (3 lanes and 1 bus lane). The project also includes the removal of large numbers of parking spaces along the quays and removal of a significant traffic lane along further sections of the quays. The, since announced, city centre traffic plan allows for all the general traffic lanes to be removed from Jervis St to past O’Connell St and removal of cars from other areas of the city centre.

    And you’re trying to claim all of this is a pro-motoring Trojan Horse?!

  13. Hi Cian – not claiming _all_of it is pro-motoring – I’m of the opinion that this is mainly a roads led project with a sprinkling of bicycle infrastructure for good PR. If the two come into conflict, guess who wins (Church street is being widened to two car lanes in each direction and the existing cycle path off the keys is being reduced – at dangerous pinch point). When searching for consultation information, I could only find it on http://www.cycledublin.ie – which appears to be a pretty self-selecting location, not on http://www.dublin.ie.
    We (cycling advocates) should demand better than this – compare this to the proposed removal of most traffic from College Green. This is the first (and possibly last) chance for a generation to execute a proper planning/transport improvement to the western gateway to the city.

  14. @SBoles – just saw your reply now sorry
    > the amount of park space would increase
    I think it would remain the same or shrink slightly – but more importantly, ithe quality would be reduced – it would lose mature trees and be cut off from people by a 3 lane road on 3 sides and by the river wall on the forth. Why do we need road development to improve a park? Taking down the existing wall would open the park to all Luas and Museum users immediately. Maybe a quick and cheap solution like this would cause increased objections to these new roads?

    > option 3 (more than the other options) would reduce car dependency
    So it’s a Hobson’s choice, 3 or nothing? I don’t believe it would reduce car dependency by very much on the western end of the scheme at all.

    > Why not press for better parks in tandem with the new scheme
    I agree – but as I contend this is a road-led scheme, there’s currently no appetite by this department to do anything park related outside of the road-led goals.

    My objection to these schemes are that they pay lip service to cycling needs while cynically (IMHO) being sold as cycling solutions. They are better than we have now, but not good enough – none of them pass the would-I-let-my-family-cycle-on-these test. My dream schemes would include some/part of the following:- acceptance by planners that maintaining roads for cars at the expense of other users can not work in the long term. I’d love to see the wide south quays made two way for traffic enabling the Phoenix Park to extend to the Croppy/Museum – and all of it to be littered with wide cycle lanes that have proper junctions at crossing points.

  15. I’ll reply to the points in two parts, first re the consultation:

    The constulation was accessable at all times at the Dublin City Council constulation hub https://consultation.dublincity.ie/ which is easily found via the main Dublin City Council website, DublinCity.ie (Dublin.ie covers some events etc and I’ve never seen it used for any streets or roads projects, planning or related services).

    Coverage about the constulation was included on the city counil’s main website home page DublinCity.ie and on DCC’s main socal media accounts a large number of times and also one Live Drive twitter. All city councillors were informed. All of the city’s councillors were aware of it. There were displays at local libraries and open day public events in the city council’s offices.

    Media and online coverage included: The Irish Times a number of times, on 98FM, on UTV Ireland and their website, on RTE and their website, on the Dublineventguide.com, on businessandleadership.com, in the Dublin People and on their website and Twitter/Facebook, on the Evening Herald, on engineersjournal.ie, and it was mentioned in the Indo even if not very prominently. These media outlets are only some of the ones which covered it when the consultation went live, others also covered it just before it went live, such as theJournal.ie.

    It was also mentioned a few times on the Dublin BID / We Are Dublin Town website and social media pages a number of times and on a number of councillors’ twitter and other accounts (including twitter accounts of x2 FF Cllrs, a People Before Profit Cllr, 3 Green Party Cllrs and on dermotlacey.ie), It was on the Twitter and/or Facebook accounts of the following: Construction Information Services, Irish Architecture Foundation, a solicitors in D5, Exchange Dublin, the Canals Partnership, Rediscovery Centre Ballymun, North Wall Community Development Project, and tweeted or retweeted by a large number of individuals etc. That’s not to mention this site or cycling bodies, but Cycling Ireland promoted it heavily — and they have members who have a stronger interest in commuting by car or bus into the city.

    And all of this is just the first round of non-statutory consultation — there will be a Part 8 required and that will require full statutory public consultation. This is on top of pre-public consultation stakeholder meetings with businesses, transport companies, community groups, and different sections of the city council.

  16. And second part:

    You say that you’re “of the opinion that this is mainly a roads led project with a sprinkling of bicycle infrastructure for good PR” — how exactly is road space reduction “a roads led project”? Sure, it is led by what used to be referred to as the “roads” section of the council, but they lead all cycling infra projects including greenways.

    “Why do we need road development to improve a park?“ — because the park is being connected to the riverside where the current road is — the road will be relocated and reduced from 4 lanes to 3.

    “I don’t believe it would reduce car dependency by very much on the western end of the scheme at all” — option #3 includes reducing car lanes and parking lanes along the quays from the Phoenix Park gates onwards in the process of creating the quays route as part of a segregated network of cycle paths into and around the city centre — if that combined carrot and stick solution doesn’t reduce car dependence I don’t know what will. And on top of these plans we have the city centre traffic plan.

    “My objection to these schemes are that they pay lip service to cycling needs while cynically (IMHO) being sold as cycling solutions. They are better than we have now, but not good enough – none of them pass the would-I-let-my-family-cycle-on-these test” — Option 3 includes a decent width two-way cycle path which will link to other segregated routes — how does that amount to lip service to cycling or not suitable for people of most ages?

    “My dream schemes would include” — dream schemes are nice to think about about but option 3 or a variants of it is something which is workable in the close future. There’s a lot of objections to the project in general, but the idea of two-waying the south quays had far more objections. Option 3 is a good compromise which keeps decent space for walking, cycling and public transport.

  17. Thanks Cian for the comprehensive replies – I pass through the city centre regularly and am online a lot – and honestly, this website was the first place I saw the plans. Dub City need to do a better job of communicating this on the ground (posters, plans along the routes, anyone?).

    There appeared to be undue haste between the consultation and decision, but if it’s non-statatury choice of route and a Part 8 is the main deal then that should allow more informed input and feedback.

    As for the roads-led remarks, I think we’re more in agreement than you think: ””roads” section of the council … lead all cycling infra projects” is the root of my argument. You’re no stranger to the quality and consistency of their work on cycling routes over the past couple of decades. We’ll have to agree to disagree on the rest. As much as I want better cycling facilities – I still think this plan is using cycling to justify its own ends – for all the stated reason above and more.

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