Major Dublin city cycle routes will remain unconnected as a key section is delayed following what was described as intensive lobbying.
Four million euro of funding for the project was suspended by the Department of Transport pending a review of options on a strategic cycling route after residents in East Wall objected to it.
Dublin City Council had planning permission for the full €10m route between Portobello to East Wall Road at the end of West Road, via the Docklands, but it is now revaluating the section between the north Docklands and Fairview Park. It has said it will consult with residents before going ahead with the East Wall section.
The route in the short term will now only be completed between Portobello and Guild Street in the north Docklands, which is due to open by July. “[This section was] delayed one month due to harsh weather in December,” said Ciarán Fallon, the cycling officer at Dublin City Council.
The project is part of the city’s plan to allow commuters, leisure cyclists and tourists to travel along a network made up of the Dublin sections of the Grand and Royal canals and along Dublin Bay from Sutton to Sandycove, or even further along the coast.
If the project had gone ahead uninterrupted, it would have created the largest completed section to date – 8.6km from Portobello at the Lower Rathmines Road to Bull Island at Dollymount.
A petition signed by residents of East Wall objecting to the cycle route “went missing,” as Dublin Observer previously reported.
The petition was signed by hundreds of residents but was submitted with the wrong reference number. And although it mainly referred to the cycle route, it was only submitted against a small section of the project – a pedestrian and cycle bridge crossing the River Tolka, from West Road to Fairview Park. There is currently no permission for this bridge.
The city council has since admitted that it should have returned the submission or informed the residents of the error.
Council officials and councillors also disagreed on what public consultation had happened with residents in East Wall. Last year Cllr Emer Costello (Labour) told the council’s central area committee meeting of the large amount of confusion around the project and warned that there must be serious consultation with residents to rebuild trust. Cllr Marie Metcalfe (Ind) said an independent facilitator would be needed.
The council originally planned a two-way off-road cycle track on West Road. Residents’ complaints centred on the loss of parking spaces, however a council survey showed little demand for parking on the street.
“Options for the route north of Guild Street are currently being investigated,” said Ciarán Fallon. He said there is now no completion date set for the section between Guild Street in the Docklands and Fairview Park via East Wall.
Late last year one councillor heavily criticised the delay and he confirmed to Dublin Observer this week that his still holds this view.
Cllr Naoise Ó Muirí (Fine Gael) said that the plans for the cycle route in the East Wall area were “withdrawn by City Council officials because of intensive pressure / lobbying by East Wall residents and some of their “local” politicians. In my view this is a short-sighted decision. DCC officials certainly didn’t cover themselves in glory on this occasion but the rationale for the strident opposition from within East Wall seemed pretty flimsy at best.”
He added: “The only real alternative being proposed seemed to be to send cyclists down the East Wall Road, an area still ruled by dangerous HGVs. So the strategic interests of the City are set aside once again and the associated millions of funding may well be on its way back to the Department of Transport already.”
His party colleague Cllr Mary O Shea, at the central area meeting last month, said that “we should all hang our heads in shame” if the funding is lost.
While the council confirmed the funding was suspended by the Department of Transport, the department did not respond to a request for further comment.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON DUBLINOBSERVER.COM