A move to force Dublin City Council officials to implement contra-flow cycling provisions on some key city centre streets failed by just one vote, with the city’s lord mayor using her deciding voting against the proposed policy.
Contra-flow, or simply providing a way people can cycle their bicycles two-ways on otherwise one-way streets, is a used extensively across the Netherlands, and in cities such as Paris, Berlin, and Brussels. It is seen as a key way of making cycling more attractive. On smaller streets it is often done without lanes, however on many of the streets in question, new contra-flow cycle paths or lanes would be needed.
The motion was promoted at a recent draft development plan meeting by Cllr Clare Byrne (Green Party). It named Parnell Square South, Nassau Street, Merrion Row, Pearse Street, Granby Row, Pembroke Road (Dublin 2), and St Stephen’s Green where contra-flow would be introduced.
A number of the same streets were part of a 2010 city council plan to introduce contra-flow which was never implemented.
City council officials stated that such specifics should not be included in the Development Plan. But Cllr Byrne questioned this, stating: “When is the time to state specifics? You have specific roads such as the Eastern Bypass listed in various city development plans over the last number of years. So, I’m just wondering why we can’t list specifics, there’s similar motions on the S2S, Grand Canal, and Liffey the cycle routes.”
She said one-way streets were identified as a key challenge to the city’s cycling network but that she “Has a concern that it’s not a priority.”
Jim Keogan, an assistant chief executive with the responsibility over planning and development at Dublin City Council, said such detail as too specific for the development plan.
Keogan said: “The development plan is for setting down policies and objectives of a strategic nature… it would be premature at this stage to start naming different routes in the absence of the roads and traffic department’s involvement.”
When the councillors voted, there was 20 members for and 20 members against, so it came down to the vote of the current lord mayor, Cllr Críona Ní Dhálaigh (Sinn Fein).
Keogan then added: “In the context of the debate and discussion, the comment was that ‘ you can include roads [but not cycling measures]’, but we have to include roads as roads constitute development and the development plan gives guidance in relation to future development… if it’s not a specifically in the plan it would need a variation of the plan, while the provision of contra-flow is a regulation issues with does not require a specific policy in the develop plan — it does not qualify as development.”
Cllr Ní Dhálaigh then quickly used her deciding vote to vote against the motion.
Speaking directly afterwards on the introduction of another motion relating pedestrianisation, Cllr Cuffe Cuffe (Green Party) said: “It tends to be the road objections which get delivered because they are included in the plan. But when it comes to contra-flow cycling issues, they tend to be put on the back burner. I sat down with the then city manager 24 years ago, along with Alderman [Carmencita] Hederman, to try and introduce contra-flow cycle lanes and was told ‘we’ll look at that and we’ll come back to you’.”
He continued: “24 years later there’s a couple of hundred yards of contra-flow lanes in this city. If they are not in the plan, they tend not to happen.”