Dublin City Council is continuing to ignore a plea from NCBI, the national sight loss charity, not to mix walking and cycling outside one of Ireland’s top tourist attractions.
Despite the opposition from the NCBI, and city councillors often raising the issues of footpath cycling, the council are pushing head with the removal of dedicated cycling space and the expansion of shared walking and cycling sections of footpath between Kilmainham Gaol and Hilton Hotel on the Inchicore Road. Kilmainham Gaol is listed as one of Ireland’s top tourist attractions with around 326,000 paying visitors a year.
The city council has provided IrishCycle.com with the most up-to-date drawing of the Kilmainham Civic Space scheme, which confirms that shared footpath space will be extended as part of the project. The drawing in full can be viewed in this PDF (Kilmainham Layout, 2mb).
The NCBI links the conflicts and uncertainty caused by such shared use areas with people who have sight issues having often debilitating independents problems — leaving their home less often, or not leaving their homes at all without a sighted guide.
Shared footpath space is also generally disliked by many people who walk and cycle. On visits to the nearby Rialto area — where shared footpaths were introduced at a roundabout in the centre of the urban village — locals and commuters told IrishCycle.com of their dislike of the confusion and conflict caused by a design with directs moving bicycles onto footpaths.
That Rialto scheme has been cited by obesity expert Dr Donal O’Shea as a prime example of how providing facilities to combat the problem of physical inactivity is not taken seriously.
Shared footpaths and toucan crossing are currently used in Kilmainham, but confined to one junction and two toucan crossings. The shared space will now be extended to all of the footpath outside Hilton Hotel.
As we reported last year in October, at a meeting of the city council transport committee, Fiona Kielty, a representative of the NCBI, referred to a project “coming up in Kilmainham” and objected to the use of shared footpaths.
Kielty said “The suggestion was that cyclists and pedestrians would share an area of footpath. I’ve already brought it up with the people involved with the project itself but I just wanted to make sure that Dublin City Council is not in favour of cyclists and pedestrians mixing, for the simple reason that the most vulnerable pedestrians just can’t cope with that and it would mean that they could not use an area if they knew that cyclists would be all over the pavement.”
Brendan O’Brien, head of technical services at Dublin City Council, said that the council did not want to rule out using shared footpaths and it did not want to be “too prescriptive”.
O’Brien said: “We are aware of the issues, we’re also trying on the other hand to not be too prescriptive for every single occasion… We are aware of the issues and we do intend to continue to liaise with the NCBI for any of these types of schemes.”
He added: “We do have a number of shared space areas, we don’t have a huge amount of them and where we do have them we do have them we try to have a very careful design, and we do consult with the NCBI on these schemes.”
Dublin City Council has had a low amount of shared footpaths compared to Fingal or South Dublin council councils, but the city council is set to rapidly increase the amount of the design used. Shared footpaths spaces is already included in the Canals Cycle route between the North Docklands and Rathmines, and it is planned across a section of the S2S Dublin Bay route under construction, and on the planned the Liffey Cycle Route, the Dodder Greenway, the Royal Canal Greenway and on other projects.
IMAGES: Dublin City Council