— Cllr has history of calling cycling projects “madness”
COMMENT & ANALYSIS: An elected councillor who is objecting to a cycle route from Amiens St to Clontarf in Dublin is a serial objector to cycling projects. This isn’t just our opinion, he has objected to more than three cycle routes — that qualifies as a serial objector.
The independent councillor Nial Ring is a businessman and also a former IFSC banker. He is described in one article as one having being part of “Bertie Ahern’s St Luke’s inner circle” and has reported links to oil companies.
The Irish Times reported last year that Cllr Ring “has said he made a ‘reasonable profit’ from trading in the shares of three publicly quoted companies that have racked up losses of approximately €7 million between them.” The oil company is US Oil & Gas, on their website he is listed as “a former director”, while The Irish Times were were also reporting on non-oil companies Proventus Renewables and IMC Exploration.
On plans for the Clontarf to city centre cycle route, Ring was critical of a short section where there is only planned to be a single general traffic lane in the northbound direction where the roadway is confined at a railway bridge. There is already only a single lane southbound. The design, however, is far from final — the draft drawings note: “Amiens Street / Railway bridge options to be confirmed”.
If his problem was just this pinch point, he could have called for alternatives such removing a small railing outside a shop, which might allow for space for both a cycle path and the footpath on the shop side of the railway bridge support. This would allow for the retaining of three traffic lanes, as there currently is. But instead Ring opted for rhetoric.
Calling the council officials “anti-motorist”, he told The Irish Times that plan was “absolute madness”. The Irish Times quoted Ring: “Most importantly, nobody has ever considered the effect of traffic congestion on the mental health of drivers, but increased road rage incidents indicate that driving is stressful enough without adding to journey times with this madcap lane reduction proposal.”
Cycling in reality has many mental and other health benefits, and it is the best chance of keeping the city moving. Reallocating limited road and street space to cycling allows more people to travel than if that space was, for example, just a general traffic lane.
Ring also called the Liffey Cycle Route “madness”. He was reported as saying so by the Irish Independent and by the Dublin People, a local newspaper. He told the Dublin People that: “I am not anti cyclist but I have sympathies with motorists who are being targeted all the time, yet these are the people who pay road tax and exorbitant parking charges when they can find a place to park in the city, yet are rarely seen breaking red lights or indeed driving on footpaths.” IrishCycle.com can confirm that there is no such tax as “road tax”.
Council records show that Ring was one of the councillors who objected to the original S2S Dublin Bay cycle route connection from Fairview to the Liffey, via the Eastwall area. If that key section of the Dublin Bay route went ahead there would have shortly been nearly an 11km route between Howth Head and the River Liffey.
This would tie into a 4km route already in place to Rathmines along the Grand Canal, which will be linked to a route to Adamstown.
Ring has also objected to cycle paths on the Royal Canal bank. Last June — when plans were still being developed — he put down a motion at the council that: “That this Committee requests that a full review of any proposed plans by Dublin City Council for a cycle lane along the Linear Park on Royal Canal Bank be carried out immediately. This review should include consultation with all stakeholders, especially the local community who currently use this splendid facility and who have rightly expressed concern that the introduction of a cycle lane in such a narrow area would have a detrimental effect on their enjoyment of the amenity.”
If he is referring to the Phibsborough road and Drumcondra section, he may have a point on this one. All users would be better served if the already busy north bank on this section was reserved for walking and running, while the south could be mainly but not exclusively be for cycling. This approach would not cost much or any more than the current plan. But Ring’s public stance on cycling projects does not seem like he is up for reasoning.
Any move to more a more accessible, healthy and sustainable city which takes space from current use is treated as “madness” or “absolute madness”. People ask us what stops progress on making cycle routes which are safe and attractive to people of most ages and abilities, part of the answer is councillors like Cllr Ring. He, however, may be just more upfront in his objections than some of his fellow councillors.
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