Sustainability for GAA can’t stop at plastic in Croke Park

COMMENT & ANALYSES: It’s great that the GAA are banning single-use plastic items such as straws and cutlery at their main stadium, Croke Park, but sustainability for the sports organisation can’t stop at plastic.

The GAA — as both a sports body and the host of large-scale music events around the country — needs to start acting responsible in terms of its traffic management plans for sport and music events across the country.

While other countries might not be perfect, many of them least they try. With measures such as keeping bus lanes open and ramping up bus services; offering free or discounted public transport as part of their event tickets; offering park and ride to people coming from far away where venues are in the middle of towns and cities; and keeping cycle routes open and offering free, convenient and guarded event bicycle parking.

But this is Ireland in 2018. We claim we support sustainability, while actively blocking it all for car use.

Currently the GAA, local authorities and the Gardai (besides a few Garda districts) are acting with two faces — saying they support sustainability and then, not just acting in a unsustainable way, but allowing travel to events at GAA venues to impact on people just trying to get around town and cities in a healthy, safe and sustainable way.

GAA matches are legendary for match goers abandoning their cars — including parking along cycle lanes and footpaths across the country. But the problems are also institutional ones that go beyond lack of enforcement.

One example we have covered in detail is the GAA, Dublin City Council and Gardai working together facilitating coaches parking in cycle paths in Dublin. The GAA alone could say stop.

And a new low is the traffic management plan in Galway last week including opening bus lanes, and curtailing bus services, (and, in the process, needlessly putting the bus lanes open to all traffic signs on cycle paths):

And, let’s be clear about this: Not inconveniencing car use is why bus lanes were closed in Galway and why coaches park on cycle paths rather than the roadway in Dublin.

The things they do in other countries would be great in Ireland, an easy start would be to keep bus and cycle lanes open.

I am editor of IrishCycle.com and have reported on and commented on cycling in Ireland for over a decade.

7 Comments

  1. Hear hear!

  2. Mike McKillen June 6, 2018 at 9:28 pm

    I attended the Rolling Stones concert in Croke Park last month and took the train from Pearse Street to Drumcondra but found myself with a circuitous walk from that station to our entrance off Ardilaun Road. I had a sore knee and was having injections into the joint so it was an arduous walk. I could find no information on access to the event by bicycle.

  3. @Mike: Connolly Station would have probably worked better for you but, you’re right, there’s no mention of bicycle access at these events. I’ll email Croke Park.

  4. I emailed the Sustainability contact at Croke Park. I got good news in the reply:

    “We do indeed have secure bike parking options in Croke Park for match and concert days. We have a two-tiered and a single-tier bike rack located in the Davin car park. This is accessed via St. Margaret’s Avenue off the North Circular Road. There is CCTV in the car park and there is a security presence for matches and concerts. We are also lucky enough to be located close to several Dublin Bike stations, for those choosing that option.”

  5. Mike McKillen June 9, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    Thanks Damien for taking the trouble to contact Croke Park on my behalf. I wonder what is the capacity of those two bicycle racks? Do Garda Siochana members and GAA marshals permit people approaching on bikes to proceed beyond the outer screening barriers?

  6. Being allowed to get to them would be my next question – I would expect that, with a valid ticket for the event, they would allow you through, though might ask you to walk the bike because of the crowds.

  7. I got another very thorough and helpful reply from the Sustainability contact at Croke Park:

    “In the Davin we have a two-tiered bike rack that holds twenty bikes in total and a single-tiered rack beside this that holds ten bikes. The one issue to bear in mind is that if a cyclist’s ticket is not for the Davin Stand, s/he would have to factor in enough time to get around to the stand for which s/he has a ticket.

    There should be no problem getting through the cordon or to the racks. However, I do appreciate that issues can arise – and our two-tiered rack is in place only since the end of last season so not everyone is familiar with it – so if you knew of someone planning to park for a particular event who was anxious about this, they could be put in contact with me. I’m on site for match days and would be available to assist in case of any issue arising.”

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