— Garda not continuously present when regulations cited by council require such to close cycle path
— Pushing cyclists onto busy road was considered to be low risk says council
Gardai, not council, powers were used to suspend cycle paths on both sides of the Alfie Byrne Road for Bruce Springsteen concerts, Dublin City Council has claimed, but questions remain around the powers used to allow coach parking on the cycle paths.
The sections of cycle paths used by the coaches, which both Gardai and Dublin City Council approved of, are two-way segregated cycle paths which form the near city centre start of the northern section of the Sutton to Sandycove Dublin bay route. It includes a siginlised crossing of the road.
The Croke Park website says the road is its official event coach parking area, and the Springsteen concerts were not the first time coaches used the cycle path and footpaths.
The Gardai press office previously said that the cycle path was “suspended” for the “safe loading and unloading” of coaches serving recent Bruce Springsteen concerts at Croke Park. They said that: “Sanction was sought and granted from Dublin City Council for the suspension of the cycle lanes.”
When we first contacted Dublin City Council, they also originally followed this. Bernard Lester, senior executive engineer at the transportation operations section of Dublin City Council, said: “Yes, Dublin City Council granted a request from An Garda Síochána to designate Alfie Byrne Road & Cycle Path for Private Coaches to drop-off pre show and pick-up post show, during the recent Bruce Springsteen event.”
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Asked about the impact of large coaches on the surface of the cycle path, he said: “The use of cycle paths and footpaths for coach parking is not normally acceptable but on this occasion it was agreed with An Garda Síochána for general safety reasons.”
In reference to a question on the legal means of closing the cycle path, Lester said: “A Dublin City Council temporary road closure order was not required as Alfie Byrne Road remained open. A temporary suspension of cycle paths or footpaths does not require planning permission or a closure order.”
When we pointed out that, according the city council’s website, closing paths on roads temporarily is very much so in keeping for the need for such an order, he added: “For large events An Garda Síochána liaise with Dublin City Council transportation operations and also transport companies to develop traffic management plans to lessen the impact of events on routine traffic arrangements. An Garda Síochána are empowered under legislation such as Section 21 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994, ( http://www.irishstatutebook.
However, it is unclear how these sections of legislation could be used in this case.
Section 21 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994 states:
21.—(1) If it appears to a member of the Garda Síochána not below the rank of superintendent that it is necessary in the interests of safety or for the purpose of preserving order to restrict the access of persons to a place where an event is taking or is about to take place which attracts, or is likely to attract, a large assembly of persons (in this Part referred to as the “event”), he may authorise any member of the Garda Síochána to erect or cause to be erected a barrier or a series of barriers on any road, street, lane, alley or other means of access to such a place in a position not more than one mile therefrom for the purpose of regulating the access of persons or vehicles thereto.
It is unclear how the above applies as no barriers were used on the road in question on the two nights of the concert. The rest of the section of legislation seems to imply a Gardai should be in attendance, according to information provided by readers, this was also not the case, at least not for the full time the coaches were parked on the cycle path on both nights.
One reader said he actively looked for the presence of Gardai to complain about the coach parking.
Section 6 of SI No. 182/1997 – Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations, 1997 states:
6. (1) A driver of a vehicle or a pedestrian shall comply with a direction given by a member of the Garda Síochána for the purpose of regulating or controlling traffic.
(2) Where a direction given by a member of the Garda Síochána is inconsistent with a provision in these Regulations, the direction shall override that provision.
This also seems to suggest that a garda must be present for these regulations. While a garda may be present to allow the coaches to park in what would otherwise be in an illegal manner, and then leave, they would need to remain present to stop cyclists from cycling on the small sections of usable cycle path.
When we asked what exact did the city council ‘grant’, Lester said: “Dublin City Council agreed with An Garda Síochána the use of Alfie Byrne Road to facilitate coaches serving the Bruce Springsteen concerts. This involved the temporary closure of the cycle paths but Alfie Byrne Road itself remained open during the nights in question. As explained previously, an assessment was carried out to determine an appropriate location for private coaches, to drop-off and pick-up, and Alfie Byrne Road was identified. The use of cycle paths for coach parking is not normally acceptable but on this occasion, it was agreed, for general safety reasons.”
We also asked about the a formal assessment of the safety effects for cyclists and pedestrians using the street as normal, he said: “The safety effects for cyclists and pedestrians using the street as normal was assessed and the risk was considered to be low.”
A senior Garda from the local area was CCed by the council in the email responses provided.