Following from scrapping the idea of speed ramps for bicycles on Clontarf’s promenade last year, officials at Dublin City Council are now reexamining how to reduce the conflict between people walking and cycling in the area.
The cycle route along the coast in Clontarf is part of the long-planned S2S or Sutton to Sandycove cycle route along Dublin Bay.
Last year the council abandoned its idea of speed ramps for bicycles. At the time, The Irish Times reported that the council were copying a Dutch design for cycle path speed ramps before realising that these were designed to slow down mopeds, not bicycles.
A new design is expected to be presented to the council’s North Central Area Committee meeting on April 20.
Speaking to IrishCycle.com, local councillor Cllr Naoise Ó Muirí (Fine Gael) said that the main issue is that the pedestrians have to cross the cycle-path with some cyclists going fast and with a lack of awareness of pedestrians that they are walking across a cycling route.
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While the cycle path and footpath are mostly segregated by some distance in Clontarf, the problem areas are where there’s only a painted white line separating cycling and walking, and at a car park where the cycle path runs beside the parked cars and there’s no direct footpath access towards the waterside.
Cllr Ó Muirí said: “I’m the councillor who actually raised the issue with Dublin City Council about a year and a half ago based on two separate reports of collisions between pedestrians trying to get to the seafront and cyclists on the cycle-lane; one a male senior citizen and the other a young boy. I have tried to keep the issue on the agenda since then. Am fully supportive of the council taking action in this regard but not even sure that it will be enough.”
Comments from the public on the Clontarf Facebook page seem also point to a mix of problems which centres on a lack of clarity of a the current design. The issues raised include people on bicycles going too fast, parents putting children on a cycle path with unloading cars, people walking along the cycle paths rather than using the footpaths, and people walking across the cycle path without looking.
Councillor Ciarán Cuffe (Green Party), who is the chairman of the council’s transport committee said that the paths need to be clearly marked.
“Obviously the needs of pedestrians should be placed first in the transport equation, but cycling comes a close second, and it is important that pathways are clearly marked for pedestrian or cyclists’ use. Good design can generally tackle these issues and if there is a conflict perhaps some slight changes in kerbs or signage should be able to help,” he said.
Cllr Cuffe added: “Looking ahead, the Clontarf cycle facility will be part of the ambitious Sutton to Sandycove Cycleway, and it is crucial that we iron out any design flaws at an early stage.”
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Local TD Finian McGrath (independent) — who is known to get involved with issues of pedestrian/bicycle conflicts — told the Dublin People that he welcomed action “before someone is killed”.
Responding to McGrath’s comments, Cllr Cuffe said “Finian has raised concerns about cyclists in the past, but I wish he would spend more of his time focussing on how to improve facilities for cyclists rather than giving out about them.”
Little progress has happened in recent years on the Sutton to Sandycove route. As part of plans for a cycle network for the Greater Dublin Area, the S2S is to make up part of a longer route, the East Coast Trail, from Arklow to Drogheda. Progress along Dublin Bay has, however, been painfully slow.
Construction on a missing link of the northside section of the S2S, alongside Bull Island, is due start on April 1. Councillors in Dublin City have also joined up with councillors in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to try to further the project.
The project is tied to expensive coastal flood defences in parts, hampered by environmental concerns and the previous elected members of Dublin City Council voted down a €4 million link between the S2S at Fairview to the Docklands.