On behalf of the those who have signed the petition to keep the Liffey Cycle Route on the quays, we have written to Dublin City Council. The email presented the first 1,352 names on the petition to the council — that’s over 150 names more than those who responded to the widely publicised public consultation for the project.
The letter was directed to the city manager, Owen Keegan, and CCed to the traffic section for the attention of its department head, Declan Wallace, and it was also CCed to the chairman of the transport committee, Cllr Ciaran Cuffe. The council told us that as Keegan is currently on leave, our email was also forwarded to Brendan Kenny, deputising as chief executive, for his attention.
Full coverage of the Liffey Cycle Route can be found via this link, while recently councillors responded to our survey mostly by saying they want to keep it on the quays, but there was a strong undecided element.
The email to the council is as follows:
Dear Mr Keegan,
1,352 people have signed a petition set up to show that there is support to keep the Liffey Cycle Route on the quays — that’s more than the total number (1,200) of people who responded to the widely publicised public consultation for the project.
As you are likely aware, the current Dublin City Council preferred route for the planned Liffey Cycle Route detours the cycle route off the quays and into backstreets around Smithfield, ie Option 5. There’s difficult decisions to be made because of the pinch point on the quays. It affects the make up of the route between Parkgate Street and Church Street, but the planned cycling detour is fraught with issues and would have higher impacts on cycling than the detouring of any other mode.
The Option 5 detour of the cycle path into Smithfield will:
- Cause more safety and delay conflicts for the two-way cycle path as the backstreet detour has design flaws such as nearly twice as many significance junctions as a route along the quay wall — this makes the backstreet route unsuitable for a two-way cycle path.
- Remove the iconic riverside nature of the Liffey Cycle Route for around 1/3 of the route and remove the prospect of a quay-side public park.
- Not connect well to south side locations such as Heuston station; high-density residential areas at Heuston South Quarter and the Liberties; large centres of employment such as Eircom HQ, the HSE HQ, the Digital Hub, and St James’s Hospital (where more staff are expect to not drive); and key tourist attractions such as Guinness Storehouse, the Irish Museum of Modern Art and Kilmainham Gaol.
- Include unrealistically diversions of pedestrians off existing footpaths for short sections which is not likely to be obeyed and will cause conflict.
- And it will not make many of the objectors happy as it will continue a previous plan to remove parking and loading on Benburb Street and will cause new or stronger objections from hotels and other businesses on Parkgate Street as loading, car parking and coach and taxi waiting areas will be removed or displaced.
There was a period of around six months to a year when little happened publicly with the project and in that time reliable sources have confirmed to me that there was “severe” behind-closed-doors lobbying against keeping the cycle route on the quays. While individuals and groups are entitled to lobby and express their views, it is wrong that the planning of strategic infrastructure is decided in this non-transparent way with little to no respect for the original public consultation. Before it is was indicated new options were to be presented to councillors but, instead, one emerging preferred option — Option 5 — was given as the only way forward.
With Option 5, the removal of car parking, loading space, coach parking and taxi drop off space on Parkgate Street will add further to objections to the route. Many of the current objectors who are against the removal of car parking and relocation of loading spaces off Benburb Street will be left with fewer excuses than before, but some of these people will be still against the route.
Those who are staunchly against changes to Croppy Acre have also stated that they would not be happy with any incursion into the park. Unless those groups have indicated something different to the council, the backstreet detour of the cycle route will also not make them happy as the routing including moving the boundary wall of the Croppy Acre memorial park.
There is another way: Option 6 is unofficial but it is viable. It is outlined here: http://irishcycle.com/2016/05/23/safe-the-liffey-cycle-route-and-consider-option-6/ …I have been assured by traffic engineers and transport planners that Option 6 could be designed to work without unduly affecting buses. On a practical level, it is easy to show that the turns for buses on Option 6 would be less disruptive than how other bus routes will be affected by Luas Cross City and a plan for a plaza at College Green.
Even beyond Option 6, I am personally asking: Given that Option 5 includes major negatives for cycling, as well as negatives for walking and Luas, why were other options not presented to councillors? If the cost of Option 6 is a barrier, lower cost options could have been included.
In recent years, Dublin City Council preempted London and other cities with plans for major high-quality segregated cycle routes, but Dublin is now left behind and the council now looks to be using designs and general route quality which is highly compromised. On behalf of the 1,352 people who have signed the petition, I would ask that the council removes Option 5 from the table, consider Option 6 or other viable alternatives and generally look to use Dutch-quality designs for the route.
I await your considered reply to pass it onto the 1,352 people have signed the petition, which is now attached.