Liffey Cycle Route backstreet detour gets first stage approval

— NCBI question painted line between pedestrians and two-way cycle path
— Cllr says “there’s no point in fooling ourselves” calling detour a Liffey route
— Committee chairman “very gung ho” cyclists should be in Croppies Acre

Dublin City’s transport committee — with reservations from members — has approved a detour of the Liffey Cycle Route off the Liffey’s quays and onto northside backstreets for around a quarter of the route.

One of the most controversial areas on the route includes the Croppies Acre memorial park in front of Collins Barracks and new less extensive changes for the park may still cause issues for groups who want it left “untouched”. 

Although council officials previously only downplayed the likelihood of historic artifacts or remains in the Croppies Acre site, a senior council engineer Christopher Manzira yesterday  said that they were sensitive to the nature of the area. As we reported recently, “severe” behind-closed-doors lobbying caused a now confirmed major rethink of the project.

However he maintained that an initial archaeological site study and assessment found no archaeological significant remains or material within 1.5 metres under the ground level and there might not be anything of note in the park. He said: “The report was not conclusive whether there was archaeological remains. There was the possibility that there was remains in the centre of the acre or they might not be there at all.”

Manzira said new cycle route detour route — named Option 5 — would be a “fully segregated” cycle route, and that the cycle path would now take up around 3.5 metres of space inside the north wall of the Croppies Acre park. This is compared to the previously planned 12 metres take from the park, when buses and general traffic were planned to be routed along the Luas tracks to allow for a riverside park — none of which is part of the new plan.

Manzira claimed that in terms of the “overall performance for cycling” the new cycling detour is “a much better offering” for the majority of the cyclists. He said that the council plans to proceed with the preliminary design before then using Part 8 public consultation.

Manzira said: “There is concern that we have lost an opportunity for a scenic route along the Liffey by having to divert some of the cyclists — while you lose a view of the Liffey, what this particular route does, which going on the Liffey would not, is connecting well to Smithfield… better connectivity to DIT (Grangegorman) and direct access to the Phoenix Park.”

He said it does not connect as well to Heuston station, but said that “most people are only starting off at Heuston station so they are only starting off their journies”. No mention was made of locations south of Heuston, including the headquarters of the HSE, the headquarters of Eir, St James’s Hospital and the planned National Children’s Hospital on the St James’s site (where staff are being actively pushed not to drive to work), the Irish Museum of Modern Art, or the planned greenways and other cycle routes which are to merger in the area.

Cllr Paddy Smyth (FG) said: “I know there was a lot of local opposition to it and local councillors came under a lot of pressure from residents and businesses there and that’s fine, that’s what happens with these projects.”

He added: “Extending Croppies Acre down to the quay wall would have been worth doing for its own sake as it would have added a huge amount of amenity to the area.”

Cllr Ray McAdam (FG) said: “Just to respond to my learned colleague from the south side, I don’t think any local councillors came under pressure we understood that there was serious concerns that what was the emerging preferred route was negatively impacting on our constituents and that they were able to access their homes etc.”

Cllr Mannix Flynn (independent) said current cycle lanes are plagued by illegal parking and he questioned the waste of time and resources on the project to date.

Fiona Kielty of the sight loss charity NCBI raised concerns about visuals presented at the meeting which showed only a painted line between pedestrians and two-way cycle path running at the back of a Luas stop. She said segregation just using a painted line and have a footpath between a cycle path and a tramway would be problematic for people with visibility impairments or blindness.

Derek Peppard, representing the Dublin Cycling Campaign, said he was disappointed that riverside routes are being abandoned and pushed for alternatives to be reviewed.

Cllr Kieran Binchy said: “I think we are all disappointed that we are not getting the Liffey cycleway west of Church Street.” He questioned if it would be feasible to proceed towards construction of the route from O’Connell Bridge to Church Street while a “proper solution” was developed for west of Church Street. He said he cycles the central section regularly and that it is highly dangerous. 

He added: “If we do proceed with this option [the backstreet detour] we should not call it a Liffey Cycle Route — let’s not fool ourselves that we’ve achieved what we wanted to. Call it a Croppies Acre cycle way or something else, and accept defeat. But there’s no point in fooling ourselves.”

Cllr Ciaran Cuffe (Green Party) — who is on record as opposing the public’s preferred option — said: “We had a great scheme but it’s not so great anymore… But I think it does represent progress and I think we should proceed with what is before us [the detour route].” 

He added: “We have lost the visionary proposals but what is on front of us today is a significant improvement in cycling facilities in Dublin and in that regard it is to be welcomed.”

Referring to the Croppies Acre he said that the new proposals do not impact as much on the memorial park and that he would be “very gung ho” on the view that cyclists should be in the park as a positive force. He said: “The Croppies would be very happy to see activity where they fought over 200 years ago.”

The transport committee webcast can be viewed for a limited time at www.dublincity.public-i.tv.

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8 Comments

  1. I think I have to agree with Kieran Binchy’s take – it’s the section from Church Street to O’Connell Street that’s nuts – that’s where all the bus stops are. I’m coming from Inchicore direction and go past Heuston on to Wolfe Tone Quay, which is mostly ok, apart from the odd bus trying to squeeze past. It all narrows down after Blackhall place, but that’s not so bad – I usually take an assertive position and just go at the same speed as the traffic (although I did have some loon from Barton’s Bus try to get past me there a few weeks back).

    Arran Quay is mostly ok – there’s just a painted line, but it starts to squeeze down approaching Church Street. That’s the first trouble spot – the kerb kicks out, and you also get buses keeping left to use the bus stop.

    I almost definitely won’t use the proposed route from Heuston to Church Street – it’s extra distance, I don’t like flirting with Luas tracks, and the 11 junctions I’d have to negotiate will just waste my time.

    The one big question I have is this: if I am approaching along Arran Quay, will there be a convenient way for me to get on to the route when I get to Church Street?

    I’m not sure about using the route going the other way either – if I turn left over the bridge at Queen Street, is there a right hand turn on to the South Quays?

  2. Flabbergasting and exasperating. Thanks Irish Cycle for the continued great work you do. I really appreciate it and I hope to return to the DCC some day

  3. Regarding the understandable and important concerns from sight-impaired people – why do we have to reinvent the wheel. Why not get some relevant bodies from the Netherlands over to comment on various cycletracks and greenways. I haven’t heard of mass mortalities amongst sight-impaired people in NL. How do they manage to make it work for everyone?

    The new route agreed yesterday – how does this cater for people on the south side of the Rive…..? It really doesn’t seem to imo. Anyone here who regularly commutes along this route, can you comment on whether you’d be prepared to make that extra detour north.

    Christopher Manzira yesterday rejected the option suggested by Cian. I’m not an engineer or city planner so I’m not one to comment, but I would be keen to know the reasonings behind why the proposal was rejected. How would we find this out?

    Regardless of cycle tracks or anything else, having a park extended down to the edge of the river would have been a great amenity. As it is it’s a stink-hole of fumes and noxious gases and danger and noise from vehicles. A wasted opportunity that future generations will scoff at.

  4. @Citizen Wolf
    In regards to the Croppies Park – having it to the waters edge would have been nice, but at the cost of being surrounded on the other three sides with the “stink-hole of fumes and noxious gases and danger and noise from vehicles”…

    This Park has been allowed to rot, being locked up for years. In advance of any transport usage, it should, at the very least, be reopened but the best option in the short term would be to remove its north wall, to allow free access from the LUAS, Museum (which would go some way to eliminate the anti-social use within).

  5. robert dresdner May 26, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    PPlan appears to be to deter cycling with ridiculous designated “routes” ; are these routes mandatory? If such are not adhered to, will “off route” cyclists be subject to fines?

  6. @Alan
    I don’t quite follow your point about a riverside park being surrounded by roads. The point of having the park extend down to the river is that it would be nice to be able to stroll along the edge of the river itself, without the stress of being immediately surrounded by vehicles and all their attendant issues.

  7. @Alan

    If it went or goes ahead, the river front in Dublin would be more car-free in width terms than the much lauded temporary and planned permanent car-free river fronts in Paris: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/aug/02/paris-seine-riverside-expressway-pedestrian

    In Paris the roads which are still open around the river front are closer than the equivalent roads would be with a park on the Liffey. The vast bulk of the public seemed

    Water-front access is highly valued in many cities across the world and reclaiming that space from cars has happened in many cities. Many of these in cities across the world require crossing of larger roads than the Option 3 / 6 quays replacement road with just a bus lane and two general lanes.

    The overall design of this Option 3 / 6 replacement road would have been much narrower than the current road at Wolfe Tone Quay which it would replace — it has a cycle / bus lane, and three wide general traffic lanes.

    The lower amount of lanes, the lower overall space, and the pedestrian crossing would have meant that the new replacement road would have been a vastly different place to start with compared to Wolfe Tone Quay. But even more could be done to help this along, for example: maybe another crossing or better placed crossings, better designed crossing (ramped crossings), slightly narrower general lanes (no need for 3.5 metre lanes in a 50km/h zone), less speed-inducing curves etc.

  8. Robert Dresdner, there is currently no way that I’m aware of to force cyclists to use these routes. Rather there is no way to prevent them from using public roads as an alternative.

    However this won’t stop the occasional psychopath in a car from screaming at you to use the “perfectly good cycle path”. I have no doubt that dangerous and inconvenient cycle paths increase motorist aggression when a cyclist chooses to use the road instead.

    I read an excellent point a long time ago that basically stated that if the off road cycling facilities were in fact superior then cyclists would use them without having to be forced to by laws or bullying motorists.

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