— Routes favoured by the public appears to be abandoned
— Two-way route was supposed to serve southside but detoured from river
— Project has suffered numerous delays and setbacks
“Severe” behind-closed-doors lobbying has caused a major rethink of Dublin City Council’s planned Liffey Cycle Route — including redirecting the cycle route away from over 1/4 of the total length of the River Liffey quays and scrapping an option to extend the Croppies Acre park to the riverside.
The cycle route detour is for around 1.2km of the project, running between Church Street and Parkgate Street — where it was previously suggested buses would be routed to a new bus lane mainly following the Luas red line tram tracks. The section includes the narrowest pinch points on the route and so the bus lane was to be relocated to allow for a two-way riverside route attractive to tourists and commuters.
The new rerouting of the cycle path — which the council have drawn up plans for — has happened after what one source called “severe” opposition from local residents and businesses who were against a bus re-routing, and other groups who were against changing Croppies Acre memorial park.
The lobbying pressure was compounded by a city council mistake in selling and then allowing an apartment to be built on a site which was going to be possibly used as a bus detour along the Luas tracks — although with the unrelated sharing of trams and buses planned at College Green, sharing a short section near Smithfield may no longerr be such a large deal.
The moved cycle route, which is due to be confirmed this month, goes against 97% of the 1,200 members of the public who responded to a Dublin City Council public consultation questionnaire. As we reported last year, over 80% of respondents to a widely-publicised public consultation supported two-way cycle options and another 17% voted for one-way options — only 3% voted for “none of the above”. The consultation was widely advertised in local and national media.
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Much of the source of lobbying surrounds issues of the Croppies Acre park, which is a memorial to the United Irishmen who were said to be executed on the site in the aftermath of the 1798 Irish rebellion.
Speaking to the Dublininquirer.com last Setember, Sean Whelan, chairman of the non-governmental National Graves Association, said: “It’d be like taking part of any graveyard that still has interred bodies in it, let alone patriot ones, and just building a road over it… It would be absolute desecration of that burial site.”
However, the status of the site as a historic mass burial site seems to be as much myth than anything else. Heritageireland.ie states that “It is traditionally believed that the men of 98 were buried here after execution” and others claim the bodies were dumped into the river.
According to maps of Dublin in 1798 — which are online — the location of the riverside in 1798 is very different to the location of the current Liffey quays which were formed long afterwards. Current land was a running river — the current quays seem to be located where there was both river and riverbank in 1798.
It claimed the project was “a road widening scheme masquerading as a cycle way” — however, last year when we asked the group to clarify this, they posted an image with red shaded areas which indicated their view of the extend of the road widening in the plans, but areas they shaded mainly included a mix of road narrowing, a transfer of road space from parking/loading to bus lanes, and even a section of cycle path.
And, along its full route, the Liffey Cycle Route, as presented to the public, represents a notable reduction in car parking and motor traffic lanes along the river.
The campaign group claimed that Smythfield would be “dug-up” but at most the Liffey Cycle Route would result in a 3 or 4 metre bus lane following the short length of Luas tracks across the width of square — which is 40 metres wide and over 300 metres long.
They also posted images online and in shop fronts claiming the small Croppy Park would be “destroyed” and the Croppies Acre would be “wrecked”, but this was not the full story. While the plan they were fighting against did include a redirected road via the middle of Croppy Park and a strip off the northern edge of Croppies Acre (option shown below), overall it amounted to road narrowing compared to the current quays and sections of Croppy Park and the Croppies Acre would be extended to the riverside and combined to form a new larger park.