— One councillor suggested cyclists should dismount for 450m pinch point
— Safety higher priority than inconvenience of motorists says another councillor
— Business group has “significant reservations” about plan
Councillors and other representatives on the Dublin City Council transport committee had mixed views of the plan to removes cars off the quays and to give buses and bicycles priority along the Liffey.
The new ‘Option 7’ proposals — which we outlined in detail on Monday — were discussed at the transport meeting yesterday afternoon. The plan basically includes diverting cars from the quays between Blackhall Place and Church Street, solving a pinch point where the planned two-way cycle path, a bus lane and general traffic cannot all fit.
Alternative route options, including buses and cars sharing a lane, were ruled out due to a lack of bus priority and numerous other reasons, including objections.
Cllr Paddy McCartan (FG) suggested that people cycling should just dismount along the pinch point. He said: “If it’s only 300 or 400 yards, or whatever it is in metres, a simple solution would be… in other cities… I think it’s feasible for cyclists to dismount. I know it’s not ideal, but everything seems to be directed towards the rights of the cyclists.”
Cllr Paddy Smyth (FG) said he was “very supportive” of the design and disagreed with his party colleague. Cllr Smyth said: “It’s a compromise solution, but it’s brilliant that it stays on the quays. Dismounting would disrupt its unique selling of point of having a segregated cycle route from the Point to the Park. It’s imperative that it has to be segregated.”
Richard Guiney, of DublinTown, a business improvement district which is supposed to support all businesses in the core city centre, said he could not support the plan. Guiney said: “I do have significant reservations about the proposal, like Cllr McCartan has said, for the sake of a couple of hundred metres [of a pinch point on the quays], you’re bring cars through residential areas up to North King Street.”
Separately Guiney claimed to know the area but he said that some of DublinTown’s members had deliveries from their M50 depots and there “temptation to find rat runs” down unsuitable streets — there is however no legal way for motorists to cross Smithfield square.
Guiney added: “There are views within the business community that there is an ultimate goal for the city to be a car free zone. Referring back to what I said earlier, there is about 30% of the total spend in the city which comes from people who come in by car. Looking at the map, it doesn’t allay those concerns that there is a strategy to make it very, very difficult to get your car into the city centre.”
The retail spend by car users is also overestimated by retail groups compared to other surveys, which puts the spend closer to 20%.
Cllr Nial Ring (independent) — who has a history of objecting to cycle routes — said he would not be able to support the project and that the council should “start looking at Option 8”.
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Cllr Ray McHugh (Sinn Fein) said: “There does not seem to be any other option that is feasible. The priority has to be the cyclist if we’re honest and really want cycle lane going from the Point Depot all the way up to the Phoenix Park. It’s just going to have to inconvenience car drivers… it’s an inconvenience but it’s the safety of cyclists which is a priority.”
Cllr Mannix Flynn (independent) said the plan would be “ghettoising” the problem of traffic and “projecting” it into another area.
Derek Peppard of the Dublin Cycling Campaign said the group are very much so in favour of the project. He said: “Richard Guiney asked earlier if there’s a plan to make the city centre car free and eliminate car shoppers from the city centre… there’s not really. If you want to go to a city centre car park, you’ll still be able to do it.”
Cllr Ciaran Cuffe (Green Party), chairman of the committee, said: “I strongly believe that it’s a game changer and is Dublin’s own cycle superhighway from Heuston Station and the Phoenix Park down to Dublin’s Docklands. I think it deserves to be supported.”
He said that the same kind of concerns were expressed before the pedestrianisation of Grafton Street. Adding: “These changes seem really challenging at the time but can change the face of the city for the better.”
Details of the entire Liffey Cycle Route project is expected to be presented to the next committee meeting on November 23, seeking approval to formal public consultation.