There’s a simple solution to the traffic lane reduction in Fairview

COMMENT: Dublin City Council are planning to reduce the number of southbound traffic lanes in Fairview from two lanes to one for a length of just under 300 metres — but it’s not as simple as blaming this on the cycle route.

It clearly is being blamed on the planned Clontarf to City Centre Cycle Route, but the reason for the pinch point is that local councillors opposed the removal of the footbridge.

The footbridge is not compliant with accessibility law and was originally planned to be removed as part of the cycle route project. Extra pedestrian crossings — accessibly to all — were planned to be installed instead of the footbridge.

Some local councillors were concerned with the safety of pedestrian crossings of the 6 lane road (two general lanes in each direction and a bus lane in each direction). This should be part of a wider debate (more on that later).

Others were concerned what impact extra crossing would have on delaying traffic — the unintended result was the removal of a section of traffic lane instead. Likely a far worse for traffic delay in terms of reliability.

There’s an argument to have about reducing the number of lanes of traffic in Fairview to increase quality of life for residents of the area and there’s examples of everything from highway removal to lane reduction (for example: From ring road to city boulevard).

Fighting in support of the lane remove would make sense if it was for better bus or cycling capacity, safety or priority — which helps gives people an alternative to car use.

But that’s not what’s happening in Fairview where the reason for the lane removal is because of an footbridge which was due for removal, was originally planned to be removed as part of the cycle route, and which impedes the mobility of groups of people who can’t use the bridge.

There’s not enough to be gained for people holding onto support for retaining the footbridge — well-designed pedestrian crossings will be safer than people who can’t or won’t use the footbridge dashing across the road (which is a common sight near the footbridge), and pedestrian crossings should also be more accessible for a wider range of people.

The cycle route needs to be made a lot better than planned (for example, by using a two-way cycle path). The cycle route, however, isn’t really the issue here.

It’s also not strictly an issue of the politics of space. It’s more like the politics of making a flawed decision not to remove the pedestrian bridge and nobody bothering to revisit that when it has caused major unintended consequences.

As mentioned earlier, there’s probably a case for a wider debate on what Fairview is.

While the roadway at Fairview serves as a bridging point between three urban regional roads north and south of it, it’s also a local shopping area, it has schools on it and it has residential areas to one side and a large park and community services on the other side.

Hopefully, the alternative transport options provided by the cycle Route and the planned BRT can help with the debate. The focus right now, however, should be getting the cycle route right so that it usable for all ages and abilities.

The fight over the pinch-point caused by the bridge seems like a distraction from that, maybe a welcome distraction by those who refuse to see the dangerous and needless flaws in the current design for the cycle route?

I am editor of IrishCycle.com and have reported on and commented on cycling in Ireland for over a decade. My background is in journalism -- I have a BA in Journalism from DCU and HDip in Print Journalism from BCFE. I wrote about cycling for national newspapers, and then started CyclingInDublin.com for overflow stories. Later the website was re-branded to reflect a more national focus.

9 Comments

  1. I have never EVER used that bridge. I always cross at the road. And whilst some people might use it, I honestly have never seen anyone on it….

    Is this really about that bridge? I hadn’t realised that… Holy heck, it’s a crap bridge because as you point out it can’t be accessed by people with mobility issues. Even if nothing else was happening in Fairview that bridge should be taken down and replaced with something better and more egalitarian.

    Shaking my head…..

  2. This Bridge was renewed around a year ago or so, why I dont know. The Rails and Balustrading was exchanged for new ones and possibly the concrete supports as well. I was in the Post Office in Marino Mart one day and then wanted to cross the road to go into the City. I decided to cross the Bridge for the first time ever rather than chance trying to cross the road with my Bike, also I wanted to view the area from the Bridge. It was very awkward to climb the ramp and steps onto the Bridge. If it was awkward and tiring for me an able bodied person what would it be like for an Infirm person.

    The Fairview Road is very dangerous because of it’s width it needs to be narrowed and there is a lot of very fast moving Traffic, it needs to be slowed down . That Bridge was put there only to convenience Motor Traffic to enable Free Flow, to keep Motorists moving at a fast speed and not for the safety of Pedestrians.

    There needs to be Pedestrian crossings and the Road narrowed, as there is not enough crossing points only one at the Malahide Road. Also the Bridge needs to be demolished.

  3. This is the key point – it’s all about what Fairview is, or could be. It doesn’t deserve to just be a set of shops beside essentially a motorway of sorts. Just back from a trip to Holland – still miss their priorities.

    On the politics of space, this blog is great: https://robertweetman.wordpress.com/2017/11/04/amsterdam-vs-copenhagen-part-1/

  4. Does the bridge have a ramp to wheel bikes up? It looks too steep for that to be easy.

    A map with commentary balloons would make this a bit clearer for those who don’t know Clontarf well, if that would be possible.

  5. Also, would it be worth the council putting a CCTV camera up focused on this bridge and one on the road for a week, to see how many are using the bridge and how many are crossing on the roadway?

  6. I posted a longer comment but it must have gotten eaten. The bridge does have a ramp which you can see on Street View. Here’s a map with the bridge highlighted in red and the alternate walking routes in yellow with orange showing where walkers have to wait for traffic. The two nearest pedestrian crossings are 250+ metres away and require a three stage crossing for pedestrians.
    https://flic.kr/p/CRjCWe

  7. I used the bridge once just to see how it was and I do not see myself using it again. I pass it on foot regularly and what bothers the most about it is that it reduces space on the footpaths so much. Two people can barely pass.

    As all say here, the road should be narrowed and the crossing with Malahide Road also needs to be made much safer for all

  8. Unbelievable to read the local perspective on this bridge. What a wast of money!

    I see Fingal Co Co are going to canvas DCC to retain the current traffic lanes. Bit of a regressive step, but understandable in the absence of BRT and Metro North. Both of these projects seem to be years away (decades for MN). This could be the trigger to get rid of the Fairview bridge, which could enable a better cycle solution.

    http://www.dublincycling.ie/cycling/fingal-county-council-pass-motion-objecting-removal-car-lane-fairview-park

  9. Councillors are generally conservative and change-averse by nature. It’s rare to find creativity and daring among a group of city councillors, anywhere, anytime.

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