— NCBI question painted line between pedestrians and two-way cycle path
— Cllr says “there’s no point in fooling ourselves” calling detour a Liffey route
— Committee chairman “very gung ho” cyclists should be in Croppies Acre
Dublin City’s transport committee — with reservations from members — has approved a detour of the Liffey Cycle Route off the Liffey’s quays and onto northside backstreets for around a quarter of the route.
One of the most controversial areas on the route includes the Croppies Acre memorial park in front of Collins Barracks and new less extensive changes for the park may still cause issues for groups who want it left “untouched”.
Although council officials previously only downplayed the likelihood of historic artifacts or remains in the Croppies Acre site, a senior council engineer Christopher Manzira yesterday said that they were sensitive to the nature of the area. As we reported recently, “severe” behind-closed-doors lobbying caused a now confirmed major rethink of the project.
However he maintained that an initial archaeological site study and assessment found no archaeological significant remains or material within 1.5 metres under the ground level and there might not be anything of note in the park. He said: “The report was not conclusive whether there was archaeological remains. There was the possibility that there was remains in the centre of the acre or they might not be there at all.”
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Manzira said new cycle route detour route — named Option 5 — would be a “fully segregated” cycle route, and that the cycle path would now take up around 3.5 metres of space inside the north wall of the Croppies Acre park. This is compared to the previously planned 12 metres take from the park, when buses and general traffic were planned to be routed along the Luas tracks to allow for a riverside park — none of which is part of the new plan.
Manzira claimed that in terms of the “overall performance for cycling” the new cycling detour is “a much better offering” for the majority of the cyclists. He said that the council plans to proceed with the preliminary design before then using Part 8 public consultation.
Manzira said: “There is concern that we have lost an opportunity for a scenic route along the Liffey by having to divert some of the cyclists — while you lose a view of the Liffey, what this particular route does, which going on the Liffey would not, is connecting well to Smithfield… better connectivity to DIT (Grangegorman) and direct access to the Phoenix Park.”
He said it does not connect as well to Heuston station, but said that “most people are only starting off at Heuston station so they are only starting off their journies”. No mention was made of locations south of Heuston, including the headquarters of the HSE, the headquarters of Eir, St James’s Hospital and the planned National Children’s Hospital on the St James’s site (where staff are being actively pushed not to drive to work), the Irish Museum of Modern Art, or the planned greenways and other cycle routes which are to merger in the area.
Cllr Paddy Smyth (FG) said: “I know there was a lot of local opposition to it and local councillors came under a lot of pressure from residents and businesses there and that’s fine, that’s what happens with these projects.”
He added: “Extending Croppies Acre down to the quay wall would have been worth doing for its own sake as it would have added a huge amount of amenity to the area.”
Cllr Ray McAdam (FG) said: “Just to respond to my learned colleague from the south side, I don’t think any local councillors came under pressure we understood that there was serious concerns that what was the emerging preferred route was negatively impacting on our constituents and that they were able to access their homes etc.”
Cllr Mannix Flynn (independent) said current cycle lanes are plagued by illegal parking and he questioned the waste of time and resources on the project to date.
Fiona Kielty of the sight loss charity NCBI raised concerns about visuals presented at the meeting which showed only a painted line between pedestrians and two-way cycle path running at the back of a Luas stop. She said segregation just using a painted line and have a footpath between a cycle path and a tramway would be problematic for people with visibility impairments or blindness.
Derek Peppard, representing the Dublin Cycling Campaign, said he was disappointed that riverside routes are being abandoned and pushed for alternatives to be reviewed.
Cllr Kieran Binchy said: “I think we are all disappointed that we are not getting the Liffey cycleway west of Church Street.” He questioned if it would be feasible to proceed towards construction of the route from O’Connell Bridge to Church Street while a “proper solution” was developed for west of Church Street. He said he cycles the central section regularly and that it is highly dangerous.
He added: “If we do proceed with this option [the backstreet detour] we should not call it a Liffey Cycle Route — let’s not fool ourselves that we’ve achieved what we wanted to. Call it a Croppies Acre cycle way or something else, and accept defeat. But there’s no point in fooling ourselves.”
Cllr Ciaran Cuffe (Green Party) — who is on record as opposing the public’s preferred option — said: “We had a great scheme but it’s not so great anymore… But I think it does represent progress and I think we should proceed with what is before us [the detour route].”
He added: “We have lost the visionary proposals but what is on front of us today is a significant improvement in cycling facilities in Dublin and in that regard it is to be welcomed.”
Referring to the Croppies Acre he said that the new proposals do not impact as much on the memorial park and that he would be “very gung ho” on the view that cyclists should be in the park as a positive force. He said: “The Croppies would be very happy to see activity where they fought over 200 years ago.”
The transport committee webcast can be viewed for a limited time at www.dublincity.public-i.tv.