Mixed views on removing cars off quays for bus and bicycle priority

— One councillor suggested cyclists should dismount for 450m pinch point
— Safety higher priority than inconvenience of motorists says another councillor

— Business group has “significant reservations” about plan

Councillors and other representatives on the Dublin City Council transport committee had mixed views of the plan to removes cars off the quays and to give buses and bicycles priority along the Liffey.

The new ‘Option 7’ proposals — which we outlined in detail on Monday —  were discussed at the transport meeting yesterday afternoon. The plan basically includes diverting cars from the quays between Blackhall Place and Church Street, solving a pinch point where the planned two-way cycle path, a bus lane and general traffic cannot all fit.

Alternative route options, including buses and cars sharing a lane, were ruled out due to a lack of bus priority and numerous other reasons, including objections.

Cllr Paddy McCartan (FG) suggested that people cycling should just dismount along the pinch point. He said: “If it’s only 300 or 400 yards, or whatever it is in metres, a simple solution would be… in other cities… I think it’s feasible for cyclists to dismount. I know it’s not ideal, but everything seems to be directed towards the rights of the cyclists.”

Cllr Paddy Smyth (FG) said he was “very supportive” of the design and disagreed with his party colleague. Cllr Smyth said: “It’s a compromise solution, but it’s brilliant that it stays on the quays. Dismounting would disrupt its unique selling of point of having a segregated cycle route from the Point to the Park. It’s imperative that it has to be segregated.”

Richard Guiney, of DublinTown, a business improvement district which is supposed to support all businesses in the core city centre, said he could not support the plan. Guiney said: “I do have significant reservations about the proposal, like Cllr McCartan has said, for the sake of a couple of hundred metres [of a pinch point on the quays], you’re bring cars through residential areas up to North King Street.”

Separately Guiney claimed to know the area but he said that some of DublinTown’s members had deliveries from their M50 depots and there “temptation to find rat runs” down unsuitable streets — there is however no legal way for motorists to cross Smithfield square.

IMAGE: Outline map showing contentious bus, taxi and cycle routes on the quays, with private motorists diverted.

IMAGE: Outline map showing contentious bus, taxi and cycle routes on the quays, with private motorists diverted.

Guiney added: “There are views within the business community that there is an ultimate goal for the city to be a car free zone. Referring back to what I said earlier, there is about 30% of the total spend in the city which comes from people who come in by car. Looking at the map, it doesn’t allay those concerns that there is a strategy to make it very, very difficult to get your car into the city centre.”

The retail spend by car users is also overestimated by retail groups compared to other surveys, which puts the spend closer to 20%.

Cllr Nial Ring (independent) — who has a history of objecting to cycle routes — said he would not be able to support the project and that the council should “start looking at Option 8”.

Cllr Ray McHugh (Sinn Fein) said: “There does not seem to be any other option that is feasible. The priority has to be the cyclist if we’re honest and really want cycle lane going from the Point Depot all the way up to the Phoenix Park. It’s just going to have to inconvenience car drivers… it’s an inconvenience but it’s the safety of cyclists which is a priority.”

Cllr Mannix Flynn (independent) said the plan would be “ghettoising” the problem of traffic and “projecting” it into another area.

Derek Peppard of the Dublin Cycling Campaign said the group are very much so in favour of the project. He said: “Richard Guiney asked earlier if there’s a plan to make the city centre car free and eliminate car shoppers from the city centre… there’s not really. If you want to go to a city centre car park, you’ll still be able to do it.”

Cllr Ciaran Cuffe (Green Party), chairman of the committee, said: “I strongly believe that it’s a game changer and is Dublin’s own cycle superhighway from Heuston Station and the Phoenix Park down to Dublin’s Docklands. I think it deserves to be supported.”

He said that the same kind of concerns were expressed before the pedestrianisation of Grafton Street. Adding: “These changes seem really challenging at the time but can change the face of the city for the better.”

Details of the entire Liffey Cycle Route project is expected to be presented to the next committee meeting on November 23, seeking approval to formal public consultation.

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7 Comments

  1. Can we please stop calling projects such as this ‘cycle superhighways’ (See Cllr Cuffe’s comment above). I know Cllr Cuffe is pro-cycling but it’s a mistake to refer to such projects in such a grandiose way. They’re just segregated cycle lanes.

    Are the quays at present known as vehicle superhighways? No, of course not.

    The proposed cycle route from Heuston to the Point, is going to take up a lot less space that your average road. Calling these projects ‘superhighways’ is counterproductive and will engender opposition from many people who might be on the fence in terms of increasing cycle infrastructure, and who wouldn’t otherwise object if they saw such cycle lanes in the Netherlands.

    Words and ideas are important. Facts sometimes take a back seat out there in the real world, so lets not give more fuel to the fire that cycle lanes are ‘taking over’ our city (they’re definitely not!) or that cycle lanes contribute to vehicle congestion and increased pollution (see the unbelievable UK Daily Mail headline recently, Oct 5 2016).

    Lets just call them cycle lanes.

  2. Stephen McManus October 6, 2016 at 9:41 am

    I am not sure if the name used should be such an issue. London has rapidly become a reference for cross-city cycling infrastructure. They call them cycle superhighways and Ciaran Cuffe was just saying that we will now have our own one.

    One positive is that this name sends a clear message that the objective is to create an as unimpeded as possible route.

  3. I agree completely with Citizen Wolfe. Segregated cycle lanes are the goal. These will provide the greatest impact to cyclist safety. This in turn will encourage more people to choose cycling as their preferred mode of transport. We want the routes to be accessible and inviting.

    We see examples time and again where Irish people respond in significant numbers to improved cycle infrastructure. It turns out that the Irish love cycling.

  4. I always laugh when I see a cyclist dismount sign, and especially above when the Cllr suggested cyclist walk the 1/4 km. have you ever seen a sign that says, “drivers exit vehicle”?

  5. Ciaran Cuffe’s point about these lobby groups claiming to represent city centre businesses objecting to the pedestrianisation of Grafton Street is a good one. Weren’t there objections, presumably from the same people, about the Luas as well. I don’t know how their claims that changes are going to be terrible (“won’t somebody think of the jobs!”) can be treated seriously when their equally adamant objections were proved unfounded in the past. How many of these groups are there anyway?

    I don’t object to the cycle superhighway nomenclature, although I do think it is stupid, rather I think it is import not to let this appear to be a cyclist one measure. This is designed to improve public transport in general, I see huge numbers of busses and taxis crawling along this route every morning., It’s hard to get a cycling only facility in place. Let’s face facts, a lot of people hate cyclists, otherwise why would “why can’t they just walk, they want to have all the rights” be an acceptable thing to say? I don’t see anyone from the council saying “No cars inside the canals, I don’t see why they can’t just get out and walk, everything seems to be about motorists rights”.

    That has far more truth to it actually. Everything really is about motorists rights. Primarily the right to drive the car right up to their destination and ideally park it there. As soon as someone suggests any restriction you get bleating about the war on motorists and claims that there is a shadowy conspiracy to remove the car completely.

    I’d love to know what cities where cyclists are required to dismount to make progress Paddy McCartan is referring to. I imagine they would be the sort of places you would only emulate if you wanted to REDUCE cycling mode share not increase it.

  6. Here is the DublinTown lobby group website. Note the absolute absence of cars in the pleasant city scenes selected for each of the options under “Explore”. Their mission is to “enhance the experience of all people living, working, and relaxing in Dublin’s city centre.” The image they wish to present and the reality they represent are poles apart.

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