— Impacts from diverting traffic would be “overall negligible” – report.
— Sight loss charity says shared areas should not be used.
— Boardwalk option would include walking/cycling conflicts.
An alternative solution for the Liffey Cycle Route, Option 8, will cost up to €3 million extra than the ‘safer’ Option 7, which diverts cars off Ellis Quay. Both options strive to solve the issue of dealing with walking, cycling, buses and general traffic at pinch-points on the north quays near Smithfield.
The Dublin City transport committee on May 3 agreed to request that Dublin City Council management prepares a report on the environmental, financial, and traffic impacts of both Option 7 and 8, by October at the latest.
Brendan O’Brien, head of technical services in the transport section of the council, said “The boardwalk is probably to going to add €2.5 to €3 million onto the cost of the project.”
He said that the a proposed shared surface between the James Joyce Bridge and the Rory O’More Bridge would include a painted line on the surface separating walking and cycling.
This would mean that there would be a 2 metres wide two-way cycle lane against the quay wall, with a 0.85 metre footpath surface between the cycle route and the traffic lane. Both areas would be sub-standard compared to widths outlined in Irish design guidance. The details are outline in a draft drawing available on the council’s website.
O’Brien said Option 7 is “a much better option” with less conflicts, but said Option 8 was designed to offer “a way forward.” The boardwalk design would also include cutting into the structure of the James Joyce Bridge.
Because of the two proposed boardwalks, Option 8 would likely require an Environmental Impact Assessment, research to test the strength of the quay wall, flood modelling work, and will require a foreshore licence which would need to be approved by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Councillor and groups have mixed reaction
Cllr Ray Mc Adam (FG), who was a guest at the meeting, said he did not believe option 7 was the correct route to take. He said: “I understand that it is a significant cycling project, but it is much more than a cycling project, if Option 7 was advanced it would represent a significant change to the management of traffic in this city.”
Cllr Mannix Flynn (independent) said he was against Option 7 and that Option 8 was “very good, fine solution.”
Cllr Ray McHugh (SF) said he would support Option 7 because Option 8 would create a bottleneck and also create conflict between cyclists and pedestrians. He said Option 7 would be the safer solution.
Despite a Dublin City Council report stating that the air quality changes would be “overall negligible” and “at worse minor”, the lord mayor, Cllr Brendan Carr (Labour), a guest at the meeting, said that Option 7 would be detrimental to residents because of extra fumes “and that’s my full understanding of it”. Cllr Carr claimed that Option 8 would give cyclists “everything they want”.
Cllr Ciarán O’Moore (SF) said in Clontarf that there was a €6 million cycle route and it’s “only families” who use it and there are “lunatics in lycra gear” staying on the road. He said he wanted to defer a vote until September when the Luas works were finished.
Richard Guiney, CEO of DublinTown, said: “Nothing is ever going to be perfect, but I think Option 8 is one we could support.” As we already reported, DublinTown said that the sub-standard shared pedestrian and cycling path will make for a “good compromise” and “excellent cycle route”.
Cllr Paddy Smyth (FG) said: “We should never let perfect be the enemy of good but Option 8 stretches that credo to its limit… If half the predicted increase in cyclists appears, there’s going to be a huge amount of conflict with pedestrians.”
“I want to get it straight in my head, the manager is recommending an option which is markable substandard compared to the previous design… when the impacts are ranked as negligible,” added Cllr Smyth.
Cllr Paul Hand (independent) said: “I think it’s a bit strange to spend an extra €2.5 to €3 million on a proposed Option 8 when Option 7 is better value for money and I think the concerns that people have are not necessarily true — there may be short-term increases in traffic but you’re also providing a world-class piece of cycling infrastructure which will see a long-term reduction in traffic volumes. That’s the point why you build cycling infrastructure.”
Fiona Kielty, a representative of the sight loss charity NCBI, said that a white line separating the walking and cycling spaces between two bridges in Option 8 would not be enough for a person who is visually impaired.
Kielty said: “Regardless of which option goes ahead, accessible pedestrian crossing should be provided where you are not sharing a crossing in such a way that a visually impaired person will have to cope with cyclists crossing when they are trying to cross. And getting in each other way.”
Cllr Jane Horgan-Jones (Labour) said that she is going to support Option 7 but said she her contribution to the meeting might sound confused as she has concerns about traffic diversions. She said: “I’m supporting Option 7 because after comparing the two options, it’s the safer for cyclists. We’ve had a spate of cyclists deaths in the city, one of whom was a former colleague of mine.”
Keith Gavin of the Irish Parking Association said: “For what it’s worth, We’d give a less than wholehearted welcome to Option 8. It is an improvement in our opinion to what was on offer in Option 7, in that it is less punitive to private car user who have already been clobbered by the other [planned traffic] measures.”
Gavin objected to a report showing low impacts from Option 7 being released shortly before the meeting and he said these were “completely subjective” and using them to argue for Option 7 was “completely bogus”.
Colm Ryder of the Dublin Cycling Campaign congratulated the council staff on their initiative approach, but said Option 8 was like “trying to put a square peg into a round hole”.
He said the conflicts in Option 8 of mixing cycling and pedestrians would be off putting to commuters cycling along the quays. He also questioned why further studies, including a proper traffic impact assessment, on Option 7 were not progressed as had been promised.
Ryder said: “We also have to remember that the Liffey is not just a commuter route, it’s the city. Anna Livia (the personification of the River Liffey). It’s the historic context that we need to consider and where we’re going as a city into the future.”
Cllr Ciaran Cuffe said: “I think many of us, particularly the local councillors, are caught between a rock and a hard place.” The air and noise report, he said only “came to light at the 11th hour” and he had yet to fully digest it.
He said there are real concerns from some residents of the area and the report could include looking at “area-wide traffic calming because there’s huge variation between the fears and concerns of some people and perhaps the actual scientific evidence on what the implications would be.”
Brendan O’Brien said the air and noise modelling report (which was referred to in a report issued the previous week) was issued after councillors requested it, not an attempt to issue information at the last minute.