— Diversion around Smithfield part of “difficult decisions” needed
— Bicycle now outnumber cars on Ellis Quay at peak times
— Councillors highlight parking removal, congestion and traffic passing schools
A propose to move cars off Dublin’s quays for a section around Smithfield was “not made lightly” and is part of “difficult decisions” required for a workable plan for the Liffey Cycle Route, Dublin City Council’s director of traffic said yesterday.
He was speaking at a presentation on the project at a meeting of the central area committee of Dublin City Council yesterday, where it was also made public that bicycles now outnumber cars on Ellis Quay in the morning rush hour.
The current proposal for the Liffey Cycle Route includes prioritising walking, cycling and buses on the quays, while diverting motorists off the quays just before Ellis Quay and around Smithfield using streets which are already part of the city’s inner orbital traffic route.
Speaking about the proposed detour of motorists, Brendan O’Brien, head of technical services with the transport section of the council, said: “That’s possibly one of the more contentious aspects of the scheme but it was not arrived at lightly — it was the result of a long process which kicked off in 2012.”
“We’re trying to accommodate all modes on the quays, but where we can’t we have to make some difficult decisions,” said O’Brien. He highlighted how how this is the seventh option for the cycle route to be looked at in detail — even more options were looked at, but deemed unworkable.
He said that the council were at the moment looking at detailed traffic impact assessment, noise and air quality assessments, and an environmental screening report to see if the plan needs to be refereed to An Bord Pleanála.
Cllr Janice Boylan (SF) said that she and other councillors had been contacted by one of the principals of the two schools on North Brunswick Street who expressed concern about extra traffic from motorists diverted off the quays. She said that the roads were already congested for the children arriving by car, bicycle and on foot.
Cllr Christy Burke (independent) said the overall plan was a “great proposal”, but only after he outlined how he is opposed to many practical elements of the plan. He said he was against the removal of car parking spaces along the quays, and he was against both the reallocation a traffic lane and removal of trees at Bachelors Walk.
Regarding Bachelors Walk, council officials said that the removal of the trees was needed if both a bus and a lane for car access were to be maintained. Having only bus lanes and the cycle route on Bachelors Walk a part of a draft City Centre Transport Study proposals, but car park owners and retailers have so-far successfully lobbied against this.
Cllr Burke also asked how many car parking spaces would be lost and how would the council be “compensating the motorists” and the “city’s coffers”.
While lightly banging his hand off the table, Cllr Burke said: “A lot of money is going into cycle routes… but cyclists must learn to obey and respect the rules of the road… they must wear their high-vis, they must have front and rear lights…” and stop at red lights.
Cllr Ray McAdam (FG) said his view on the cycle route had not changed since last year, when he objected to a key element of moving cars off the quays around Smithfield. He said he had been contacted by neighbour who are “keen cyclists” and public transport users but who are concerned about how the project would impact on streets in Stoneybatter.
He said that the rumour mill and related anxiousness was raised because of what council officials have said and how it was reported in newspapers. He said that the area was already congested and that exiting from Arbour Hill street onto the main Stoneybatter street took him 15 minutes yesterday morning.
Cllr McAdam outlined his annoyance at the lack of detailed study done on traffic impacts to-date, criticised the disconnect between the cycle route and city centre transport study, and said he would be reserving his judgement on the cycle route until after proper analyses is available.
Cllr Nial Ring (independent) said: “I was always opposed to this and, I got further information this morning… and I’m even more opposed to it now.” Cllr Ring is a serial objector to cycle paths who has objected to an upgrade of the North Strand cycle route on “mental health” grounds and he also tried to get motoring added to a policy on sustainable transport.
He said that the 60 car parking spaces which are proposed to be removed as part of the Liffey Cycle Route proposals would cost the city funding “for ever” and that there should be an economic assessment of the project. Cllr Ring also said that the drawings for Liffey Cycle Route “preempted” the decision of having having only bus lanes on Eden Quay, which is part of the Transport Study process, not the cycle route.
He wanted to know what planning process will be used to “give people information on how they can oppose this, how they can stop this.” He told the director of traffic that “you might have to go to plan 8 — which will be to leave the north quays alone.”
You can watch the meeting here.