People on bicycles should have to dismount to cross the planned College Green Plaza — that’s according to Cllr Chris Andrews (Sinn Fein) and four other councillors on the South East Area Committee of Dublin City Council.
The councillors in the Rathgar-Rathmines and Pembroke-South Dock areas of the city represent what was called the Pembroke-Rathmines electoral area. In the 2011 Census the area had the highest number of cycling commuters in Dublin.
Last Monday, April 10, councillors at the committee meeting were given the choice to accept, reject or defer the motion. Such motion votes are symbolic and not binding.
Those who raised their hands to vote to have cyclists dismount across the planned College Green Plaza were, Cllr Sonya Stapleton (independent), Cllr Mannix Flynn (independent), Cllr Ruairi McGinley (independent), and Cllr Anne Feeney (Fine Gael).
Cllr Chris Andrews (Sinn Fein) was the only councillors off screen in the webcast of the meeting, but he indicated he also voted for his motion, which means five councillors voted for the motion.
Cllr Chris, who proposed the motion, said: “We have seen it down in the Docklands where people are, I suppose, in fear of cyclists. I know cyclists are, and rightly so, quick to speak up for their rights and health and safety but also I think the same applies to pedestrians.”
In reference to the debate over having a defined segregated cycle path or mixing cyclists with pedestrians across the plaza, Cllr Andrews said currently the discussion was on having a “highway or dispersed cycling route, but I feel cyclists should have to dismount to crossing in the Docklands [at Grand Canal Square] and should equally have to dismount in College Green when [the plaza] is up and running.”
He said that at Grand Canal Square the experience shows that “cyclists have very little regard to pedestrians.” He said he was asked about this issue in the context of disable users.
As we reported last month, Dutch cycling experts who are familiar with Dublin said that a clearly defined cycle path is the best option for all users of the plaza and they said that the area has no realistic detour routes for cycling.
Cllr Andrews dismissed other councillor’s suggestions of a design solution, dismissing the difference between cycling all around the plaza and the suggestion of a cycle path.
Cllr Mannix Flynn (independent) also said he wanted cyclists to dismount and said “people with sight impairments would have no way of knowing where the cyclists would be”.
Cllr Claire Byrne (Green Party) said she the motion was premature before the design was released and that she would have to vote against it. She also asked council management for a status update on solutions for Grand Canal Square, which is part of the Canals Cycle Route.
Cllr Dermot Lacey (Labour) agreed that the motion was premature. He said that he was a cyclist and a motorist and that getting cyclists to dismount would discourage people from cycling and said “that’s not good for the city”.
Cllr Ruairi McGinley (independent) said: “Unless there was a clear cycleway, I don’t think you can have pedestrians and cyclists mixing. But the design team need to be open to cyclists dismounting for a particular distance.”
Cllr Patrick Costello (Green Party) said: “The issue is not about rights it way or having one over the other but coming up with a proper, construction design.” He said segregated cycle paths can work better for pedestrians.
Cllr Mary Freehill (Labour) said it would be better to wait to see the full design details.
Cllr Paddy McCartan (FG) said that when he previously suggested that cyclist dismount on a section of the Liffey Cycle Route he never got such a negative reaction via email, so he will be voting to defer the issue until more information will be provided by the design team.
The area manager with the council management said that the details design of how cyclists are expected to cross the space will be made available before the project goes into the planning process and that would happen “soon”.
Vote tied, but motion deemed carried
Cllr Claire Byrne (Green Party), Cllr Dermot Lacey (Labour), Cllr Patrick Costello (Green Party), Cllr Mary Freehill (Labour) and Cllr Kieran Binchy (Fine Gael) raised their hands to vote against the motion.
Three councillors, Cllr Claire O’Connor (Fianna Fail), Cllr Frank Kennedy (Fianna Fail), and Cllr McCartan voted to “defer” the issue. Paddy Smyth (Fine Gael) was unable to attend the meeting.
This means five councillors raised their hands to vote against the motion, five voted to support the motion and three voted to defer the issue and one was absent from the meeting on that day, but the chairman of the committee, Cllr McCartan, deemed that motion was carried.
We have tonight asked the press office of Dublin City Council for comment, but we do not expect a reply until mid next week at the earliest.