Iconic Liffey Cycle Route section abandoned after “severe” lobbying 

— Routes favoured by the public appears to be abandoned
— Two-way route was supposed to serve southside but detoured from river
— Project has suffered numerous delays and setbacks

“Severe” behind-closed-doors lobbying has caused a major rethink of Dublin City Council’s planned Liffey Cycle Route — including redirecting the cycle route away from over 1/4 of the total length of the River Liffey quays and scrapping an option to extend the Croppies Acre park to the riverside.

The cycle route detour is for around 1.2km of the project, running between Church Street and Parkgate Street — where it was previously suggested buses would be routed to a new bus lane mainly following the Luas red line tram tracks. The section includes the narrowest pinch points on the route and so the bus lane was to be relocated to allow for a two-way riverside route attractive to tourists and commuters.

The new rerouting of the cycle path — which the council have drawn up plans for — has happened after what one source called “severe” opposition from local residents and businesses who were against a bus re-routing, and other groups who were against changing Croppies Acre memorial park.

The lobbying pressure was compounded by a city council mistake in selling and then allowing an apartment to be built on a site which was going to be possibly used as a bus detour along the Luas tracks — although with the unrelated sharing of trams and buses planned at College Green, sharing a short section near Smithfield may no longerr be such a large deal.

The moved cycle route, which is due to be confirmed this month, goes against 97% of the 1,200 members of the public who responded to a Dublin City Council public consultation questionnaire. As we reported last year, over 80% of respondents to a widely-publicised public consultation supported two-way cycle options and another 17% voted for one-way options — only 3% voted for “none of the above”. The consultation was widely advertised in local and national media.

Much of the source of lobbying surrounds issues of the Croppies Acre park, which is a memorial to the United Irishmen who were said to be executed on the site in the aftermath of the 1798 Irish rebellion.

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IMAGE: A local campaign against the Liffey Cycle Route taking a riverside route

Speaking to the Dublininquirer.com last Setember, Sean Whelan, chairman of the non-governmental National Graves Association, said: “It’d be like taking part of any graveyard that still has interred bodies in it, let alone patriot ones, and just building a road over it… It would be absolute desecration of that burial site.”

However, the status of the site as a historic mass burial site seems to be as much myth than anything else. Heritageireland.ie states that “It is traditionally believed that the men of [17]98 were buried here after execution” and others claim the bodies were dumped into the river.

According to maps of Dublin in 1798 — which are online — the location of the riverside in 1798 is very different to the location of the current Liffey quays which were formed long afterwards. Current land was a running river — the current quays seem to be located where there was both river and riverbank in 1798.

Meanwhile, there was also a local campaign, under the banner “Stop.RoadWidening” on Twitter and “Save Our Neighbourhood D7” on Facebook.

It claimed the project was “a road widening scheme masquerading as a cycle way” — however, last year when we asked the group to clarify this, they posted an image with red shaded areas which indicated their view of the extend of the road widening in the plans, but areas they shaded mainly included a mix of road narrowing, a transfer of road space from parking/loading to bus lanes, and even a section of cycle path.

And, along its full route, the Liffey Cycle Route, as presented to the public, represents a notable reduction in car parking and motor traffic lanes along the river.

The campaign group claimed that Smythfield would be “dug-up” but at most the Liffey Cycle Route would result in a 3 or 4 metre bus lane following the short length of Luas tracks across the width of square — which is 40 metres wide and over 300 metres long.

They also posted images online and in shop fronts claiming the small Croppy Park would be “destroyed” and the Croppies Acre would be “wrecked”, but this was not the full story. While the plan they were fighting against did include a redirected road via the middle of Croppy Park and a strip off the northern edge of Croppies Acre (option shown below), overall it amounted to road narrowing compared to the current quays and sections of Croppy Park and the Croppies Acre would be extended to the riverside and combined to form a new larger park.

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IMAGE: A previous option with larger combined riverside park including a two-way cycle path — also shown are the bus and motor traffic detoured around the previously proposed park.

11 Comments

  1. Kevin O'Farrell April 18, 2016 at 9:19 am

    Cian,

    This sounds like the online vote for naming the park in Merrion Square, all over again. The people choose Oscar Wilde but the concil didn’t like it for some reason. The case with the Liffey Cycle Route is far more serious however. This was a public consultation process, that from the very start the council didn’t seemed to do their homework on.
    Now pressure has been brought to bear by such lobbying to once again completely ignore the public view, no doubt aided and abetted by vested interests that want to keep our city’s streets dominated by motorised traffic.
    Are these public consultation processes just a box ticking exercise ?

    Kevin.

  2. Here we go again. We’re a great bunch for moaning about all the great plans that are commissioned but never come to fruition, but when something useful, progressive and even popular like this plan is approaching feasibility, out comes the old-fashioned nimbyism, online faux-outrage and manipulative rabble-rousing from vested interests, and the knee-jerk reaction is rejection by locals and a climb-down by the powers that be.

    Sometimes its a struggle to avoid turning into an out and out cynic like most of the ditch-hurling Internet commentariat.

  3. For. Feck. Sake. Really annoying that idiocy like this can get things done in the fashion desired by the idiots.

  4. What’s the point of public consultation? The naysayers who have seen it off need to realise that we face an existential threat to our lives in the shape of relentless climate-change adverse effects and hence the requirement to decarbonise out transport system.
    Many citizens pay property tax and so have a say in how our city should develop. It is not just rate-paying businesses that fund the city.
    We should ask the government to declare this route, S2S and the Dodder greenway as strategic national infrastructure.

  5. Elizabeth Scheer April 18, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    If the “widely publicized” campaign (via a Cycling focused web-site publicity campaign) resulted in only 1,200 members of the “public” responding to the questionnaire (with the majority thereof representing the cycling lobby), it can hardly be described as a representative response – can it?

    There are other people who have an interest to what happens to our inner city, not least among them the people who have chosen to make the inner city their home, yet residents were not even invited to the stakeholder meetings at the outset. The proposals put forward are not cycling focused but in reality traffic and flood management schemes, if Dublin is to ever have a chance of competing with other European cities in the league of effective planning and design it will be necessary to take a longer view that considers the potential development and expansion of the capital over the coming decades and indeed centuries.

    There must be a multi party, multi disciplinary approach to any development that has the potential to result in irreversible change to the fabric of inner city life, in that fabric is included not just the residential aspect, but also cultural, demographic, historical, commercial and of course archaeological. The objective of supporting cycling must go hand in hand with the objective of reducing if not eliminating private through traffic in the city centre. The abandoned proposals did not in reality promote this objective, in years to come there will be a need to re-evaluate traffic management in this area if projections as to population and other growth are realized, so why would anyone agree to waste millions of taxpayers money on what in effect were short sighted proposals. Furthermore, the Railway Procurement Agency expressed significant concerns about the safety implications of aspects of those proposals. Let us hope that the next attempt to formulate a plan will take a broader, integrative approach.

  6. Mike’s points above are salient. We need to plan for the future. Yet another record breaking month in February for temperatures across the world. Governments here need to cop on and get the finger out in regards a more coherent approach to how we as a nation are going to decarbonise. We need to do it now, not later. The more we delay, the greater the shock will be for us as a nation later. Cycling as a valid means of transport within built-up urban areas will help with that (as well as all the added benefits of less deaths due to pollution, less illness due to pollution, less stress on society due to reduced noise levels, more livability due to less dangerous vehicles, etc etc etc).

  7. How can the public consultation be outright ignored? How is this justifiable? You put out a public consultation and then you still go and do what you want behind closed doors? Not really an effective means then and not instilling trust in the council or government.

  8. @ Elizabeth — First, sorry for the delay in publishing your comment, comments from new commenters have to be approved manually.

    It was widely publicised, on local and national media and online — I’ve backed that up here: http://irishcycle.com/2016/04/20/yes-the-liffey-cycle-route-public-consultation-was-widely-publicised/

    Re “it resulted in only 1,200″… 1,200 is a massive response to a public consultation.

    Re “The proposals put forward are not cycling focused but in reality traffic and flood management schemes,” — is this more claims that a project which will reduce traffic along the quays is actually somehow designed to allow for more traffic?

    Re “The objective of supporting cycling must go hand in hand with the objective of reducing if not eliminating private through traffic in the city centre. The abandoned proposals did not in reality promote this objective…” — Why do you think this? How does it fit in with the removal of traffic lanes and parking along the quays as part of the project?

  9. You should take a photograph of the quays as it currently exists from the same angle as the rendering at the top of this page. I suggest 8:30am when the full natural beauty of the cars and buses can be seen. Then compare the two and see if people can figure out which one is the “destroyed!” one. Madness indeed.

  10. “It would be absolute desecration of that burial site.”
    What century did these characters come from? Not to mention they are factually wrong as they have no evidence the executed were buried there.

    DCC has a new cycling officer so what is she doing to help cyclists in this case?

  11. Reduce the quays to one lane of traffic, one bus lane and one segregated cycle lane. Problem solved.

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