Five councillors want cyclists to dismount at College Green Plaza

People on bicycles should have to dismount to cross the planned College Green Plaza — that’s according to Cllr Chris Andrews (Sinn Fein) and four other councillors on the South East Area Committee of Dublin City Council.

The councillors in the Rathgar-Rathmines and Pembroke-South Dock areas of the city represent what was called the Pembroke-Rathmines electoral area. In the 2011 Census the area had the highest number of cycling commuters in Dublin.

Last Monday, April 10, councillors at the committee meeting were given the choice to accept, reject or defer the motion. Such motion votes are symbolic and not binding.

Those who raised their hands to vote to have cyclists dismount across the planned College Green Plaza were, Cllr Sonya Stapleton (independent), Cllr Mannix Flynn (independent), Cllr Ruairi McGinley (independent), and Cllr Anne Feeney (Fine Gael).

Cllr Chris Andrews (Sinn Fein) was the only councillors off screen in the webcast of the meeting, but he indicated he also voted for his motion, which means five councillors voted for the motion.

IMAGE: Cllr Andrews said people are in fear of cyclists on the Grand Canal Square.

Cllr Chris, who proposed the motion, said: “We have seen it down in the Docklands where people are, I suppose, in fear of cyclists. I know cyclists are, and rightly so, quick to speak up for their rights and health and safety but also I think the same applies to pedestrians.”

In reference to the debate over having a defined segregated cycle path or mixing cyclists with pedestrians across the plaza, Cllr Andrews said currently the discussion was on having a “highway or dispersed cycling route, but I feel cyclists should have to dismount to crossing in the Docklands [at Grand Canal Square] and should equally have to dismount in College Green when [the plaza] is up and running.”

He said that at Grand Canal Square the experience shows that “cyclists have very little regard to pedestrians.” He said he was asked about this issue in the context of disable users.

As we reported last month, Dutch cycling experts who are familiar with Dublin said that a clearly defined cycle path is the best option for all users of the plaza and they said that the area has no realistic detour routes for cycling.

Cllr Andrews dismissed other councillor’s suggestions of a design solution, dismissing the difference between cycling all around the plaza and the suggestion of a cycle path.

Cllr Mannix Flynn (independent) also said he wanted cyclists to dismount and said “people with sight impairments would have no way of knowing where the cyclists would be”.

Cllr Claire Byrne (Green Party) said she the motion was premature before the design was released and that she would have to vote against it. She also asked council management for a status update on solutions for Grand Canal Square, which is part of the Canals Cycle Route.

Cllr Dermot Lacey (Labour) agreed that the motion was premature. He said that he was a cyclist and a motorist and that getting cyclists to dismount would discourage people from cycling and said “that’s not good for the city”.

Cllr Ruairi McGinley (independent) said: “Unless there was a clear cycleway, I don’t think you can have pedestrians and cyclists mixing. But the design team need to be open to cyclists dismounting for a particular distance.”

Cllr Patrick Costello (Green Party) said: “The issue is not about rights it way or having one over the other but coming up with a proper, construction design.” He said segregated cycle paths can work better for pedestrians.

Cllr Mary Freehill (Labour) said it would be better to wait to see the full design details.

Cllr Paddy McCartan (FG) said that when he previously suggested that cyclist dismount on a section of the Liffey Cycle Route he never got such a negative reaction via email, so he will be voting to defer the issue until more information will be provided by the design team.

The area manager with the council management said that the details design of how cyclists are expected to cross the space will be made available before the project goes into the planning process and that would happen “soon”.

Vote tied, but motion deemed carried

Cllr Claire Byrne (Green Party), Cllr Dermot Lacey (Labour), Cllr Patrick Costello (Green Party), Cllr Mary Freehill (Labour) and Cllr Kieran Binchy (Fine Gael) raised their hands to vote against the motion.

Three councillors, Cllr Claire O’Connor (Fianna Fail), Cllr Frank Kennedy (Fianna Fail), and Cllr McCartan voted to “defer” the issue. Paddy Smyth (Fine Gael) was unable to attend the meeting.

This means five councillors raised their hands to vote against the motion, five voted to support the motion and three voted to defer the issue and one was absent from the meeting on that day, but the chairman of the committee, Cllr McCartan, deemed that motion was carried.

We have tonight asked the press office of Dublin City Council for comment, but we do not expect a reply until mid next week at the earliest.

12 Comments

  1. So, if plans of a potential cycle-route across the plaza aren’t available yet, what exactly has passed? Does this mean that cyclists WILL have to dismount? If the motion isn’t binding, what’s the significance of this?

  2. It’s of symbolic significance.

  3. This idea could have some merit,maybe it is time to decide that anywhere that cars and pedestrians share the space the car driver should turn off their engine and get out and push their car.

  4. The example of Grand Canal Square should be instructive to these councillors, but for different reasons than they claim. If you provide a wide open space but don’t provide a clear cycle path, and instead pester cyclists to dismount, most cyclists will simply ignore you. It’s not a question of laws, or of right or wrong, but of human nature and respect for desire paths. In areas with limited room and many pedestrians, cyclists will dismount and walk (e.g. Grafton Street), but if DCC refuse to mark a path, even where there is time and space to plan it well, don’t expect that decision to get a lot of respect.

  5. Are pedestrians really in fear using Grand Canal Square? The councillor doesn’t seem very sure of this at all. I suppose he is just making this up.

    I am not against the new plaza being pedestrian only if that’s the best design. However if you have to dismount that is not a cycle route and nobody should be able to claim that it is one. This is the issue with the Grand Canal Square. The fools that designed this put a cycle route right through that area but failed to mark it. This means you follow a cycle route and then suddenly you are not sure where you are supposed to be. There are pedestrians walking everywhere (I’ve never seen a scared looking one) and there are narrow passages limiting you ability to go around obstructions.

    Grand Canal Square does NOT show that cyclists need to dismount. It shows that either they should not be permitted (which is what ‘must dismount’ really means) or they should be have a clearly defined space. This zero-assed system where you simply pretend the cyclists you have directed in to this area do not exist is the problem. Also, if you are going to bar cyclists (once again, this what ‘cyclists dismount’ means) you should not be directing them in to this area at all.

  6. DCC architects/planners don’t want to ‘mess up’ the design of open plazas by explicitly marking a cyclepath in a contrasting colour and then complain that intermixed pedestrian/cycling won’t work? Are these people allowed near the design of other infrastructure in which they are not qualified? A day spent in Netherlands shows this short sightedness for what it is.

  7. Clark in Vancouver April 16, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    This lack of understanding of human nature when walking and human nature when cycling is common but it’s unfortunate when it ends up influencing policy.
    Decision makers should be required to get some education about these matters. Good design where cycling and walking are near each other exist and it’s known what works and what doesn’t. Whoever is designing these spaces aren’t doing their jobs well enough if they aren’t researching what’s out there beyond the Anglosphere.
    They need to tell the designers that cycling through it without dismounting is a mandatory design requirement. To just make it a shared space and hope it’ll work out is not going to work.
    Walking and cycling happen at different speeds and should not be mixed. It’s easy to get the belief that pedestrians are clueless or that cyclists “have very little regard” for pedestrians but these are only perceptions. You can be the most considerate caring person in the world and the design of an area can throw you into conflict with others. This is a fault of the design not character flaws of pedestrians or cyclists.

  8. Good comment from Clark. That’s my experience of living in NL. It was very easy to get about on bike & foot, I don’t recall any issues with conflicts between the two modes wherever I was.

  9. I wonder how the council will react when they get their first claim for injuries sustained by a person in road cleats slipping on the surface when they dismounted

  10. Chris Andrews is from a family who made poor public transport decisions. Todd Andrews closed the Harcourt Line originally!!! He is a complete muppet! A going nowhere career politician – if he had of impersonated a cyclist in Dublin instead of an anonymous email troll he may have some credibility (See reasons why he was kicked out of FF).

  11. The comparison with what goes on in Grand Canal Square is useful as I am sure that some Councillors are receiving complaints from pedestrian constituents who walk through the public plaza that cyclists are coming at them from all directions.
    It is poorly ‘readable’ for both pedestrians and cyclists alike.The internationally acclaimed designer of this space (Martha Schwartz) may not have been thinking of cyclist desire-lines and the fact that is is the through route between North Quays and Grand Canal cycleway.
    I do not know what route I should take through it when coming from Grand Canal cycleway and then heading to get across Samuel Beckett bridge.

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