— Cycling campaigners looked for delay to fix route.
At Monday’s monthly Dublin City Council meeting most councillors who spoke seemed to indicate some concern for cycling safety as a reason to defer a vote on the Clontarf to City Centre Cycle Route, but a minority focused elsewhere.
Many voiced concerns of the conflicts built into the design — similar to the concerns outlined by the Dublin Cycling Campain and IrishCycle.com — but a minority said the council was “bully boy against the private motorist”, and another said that many cyclists want cycle paths on both sides.
Cllr Ciarán O’Moore, Sinn Fein, said he wanted drawings for the route as they were sent out in a low-resolution format. He said he wants the vote on the project deferred by a month.
Cllr Damian O’Farrell, independent, said he had problems with Part 8s for some times and said that the proposal was changed and councillors was only sent the new drawings for the project last week and that the council can’t be putting through the route.
Cllr Christy Burke, independent, said that the manager was trying to “ram” the project approval through the council. He said that he rejected the manager’s plan and wanted to go back to the drawing board.
Cllr Deirdre Heney, Fianna Fáil, said removing a section of traffic lane rather than trees was a fundamental change compared to what was proposed at public consultation and, so, she could not support the Part 8 as proposed.
Cllr Tom Brabazon, Fianna Fáil, said he agreed with his party colleague. He said: “I just think that this is another example of the council acting the bully boy against the private motorist. Here were are again, the people who pay the most to use the roads are getting the least.”
Cllr John Lyons, PBPA, said that it’s welcomed that that plan was changed because of “people power” to save the trees, but he supports Cllr Ciarán O’Moore in asking for a deferral as councillors need more time to consider the design. He said: “There are also other issues in terms of the bus rapid transit system being one of the main reasons why we can’t have a continuous two-way cycle track. That’s another factor we need to explore further.”
Cllr Éilis Ryan, The Workers’ Party, said that she supports the postponement and there was a lack of information.
Cllr Naoise Ó Muirí, Fine Gael said that the route will benefit the far bigger than just Fairview or Clontarf. He said: “We have a fixed space between the trees and the retail side of Fairview and only so much space… if we’re going to keep the trees something else has to give — it’s the parking or a lane of traffic. I’m not delighted to see a lane of traffic going but on balance, this part of the city needs a connection to the city centre because the area should be cyclable to the city centre and, as it stands, it’s not safe.”
Cllr Ray Mc Adam, Fine Gael, said: “There’s two issues that I particularly have a concern with — one is the interaction between cyclists and bus stops at stops.” He said the best way to combat the conflict would be a two-way cycle path.
Cllr Nial Ring, independent, said that the council manager claimed that the revisions to the project was made because of consultation when the u-turn by the council on removing the trees was after 15,000 people signed a petition against the removal of the trees, after the consultation. He objected to the removal of a traffic lane and also said groups, including “his good friends in the cycling lobby” are against the route.
Cllr Rebecca Moynihan, Labour, referenced the number of cycling road deaths this year, and said: “If the tone of this meeting is to be replicated we will prioritise the private car over the safety of cyclists all the time. If we are really going to transform this city and transport in this city to make it safe for cycling, we have to realise that there will be situations where the private motorist will not be accommodated all the time.”
She continued: “People take up less space on a bike and move quicker on a bike. If you’re sick of being in traffic get on it. I just think it’s really important that the people around this room (the council chamber) to remember that if we are going to have a city going into the future that’s environmentally friendly and that people can get around safely, quickly and taking up as little space as possible.”
Cllr Andrew Montague, Labour, said that removal of traffic lanes might be a good thing, he said that there was questions but overall a “step in the right direction” and he would approve it today if it went to a vote but would not object to an delay.
Cllr Montague also questioned why a walking and cycling crossing outside a school was removed from the scheme. Council officials said that this due to the possible impact of the new plan to remove a traffic lane and that the ducting for the crossing lights would be put in place so that the crossing might be put in place at a later date. But they are proposing a delay until they see the traffic impact.
Cllr Ruairi McGinley, independent, said: “Reading correspondence today from a London-based consultants, it’s quite damning really. I see the CEO shaking his head, so, I’d be interested to hear what he says.”
Cllr Michael O’Brien, AAA, in reply to Cllr Moynihan, said: “I can’t get into the heads of ever one of the councillors who are in favor of the postponement, which I am as well, but some of the strongest representations which have been made to us has been from those advocating complete segregation of the cycle lane from the roadway which anything would enhance cyclists safety. It does not stand that those of use are in favor of a delay are disregarding them, it’s quite the opposite.”
Cllr Mannix Flynn, independent, when it does not have the confidence of motorists or cyclists it should not be proceeded with.
Cllr Ryan, added that she agreed with Cllr O’Brien that the current plan would not be good enough for cycling.
Cllr Ó Muirí said that for ever cyclists that wants a two-way cycle path, he meets another who says they want a single-direction cycle path on both sides.
Dick Brady, Assistant Chief Executive in charge of the Environment and Transportation department, said that the project has been floating around for about two years and that all of the interested groups have been consulted with. The project has, however, been around a lot longer — since around 2011/2012 it was first being developed as a two-way cycle path when the city council’s first cycling officer was still in position.
Dublin Cycling Campaign was also listed under project stakeholders but the consultants did not consult them until late in the process. But Brady said that the design is the result carefully listening to people.
Brendan O’Brian, head of technical services of traffic at the council, said that there’s a “philosophical” debate over one-way or two-way cycle paths.
He said that two-way paths can be “very good”, but that the “real problem” they have with two-way is between Annesley Bridge and Newcomen Bridge where there a large number of side roads. He claimed that these would have to be signalised as it would be the only way to safely do it.
He said there would need to be 10 signalised junctions along the stretch of road he mentioned. But that section includes only 7 side streets — three have alternative access points (one of which is also already partly signalised) and five are short residential dead ends with a average length of just 120 metres. O’Brian did not elaborate why Dublin would have to signalise such minor side streets when high-quality two-way routes in London and cities in the Netherlands have non-signalised junctions at minor side streets. Where where such are not dead ends and there is alternative access routes, other cities also look at limiting side street access to cycling and walking only.
O’Brian said: “I would echo what Cllr Ó Muirí said — there is as many cyclists opposed to a two-way cycle path at this location as there are for them.” It is unclear what O’Brian was using to back this view — all written council reports after the public consultation for the project outline a strong preference for a two-way cycle path.
The council have previously claimed that two-way cycle paths will not work for a number of reasons, including that commuters would not use it, despite evidence from London and elsewhere.
Councillors voted to defer the issue until the October council meeting.