Signs directing “cyclists dismount — walk bicycle” on the Grand Canal cycle route as it crosses Grand Canal Square are not official road signs and were not erected by Dublin City Council.
The area, which is publicly owned, is managed by a private company. But it is not clear that the management company can overrule the Part 8 planning process which allowed the cycle route to cross the plaza area of Grand Canal Square.
“The only official signage at the plaza is Dublin City Council’s white on blue shared cycle and pedestrian sign,” said a spokeswoman for Dublin City Council.
It means the signs have no legal meaning under the Road Traffic Acts and road traffic enforcement of the signs cannot be carried out by the Gardai.
The €8 million square was funded by the Irish Government and part financed by the European Union under the National Development Plan. A combination of the shared surface and the square’s planters and seating, designed by American landscape architect Martha Schwartz, has caused conflicts between users of the square.
The issues of the square are complicated due to the managment arangments for the space. As most recently reported by dublininquirer.com, many publicly owned lands and also apparently public lands in the Dublin Docklands are managed by private management companies.
The system where management of publicly owned land is done by private managment companies is in place due to agreements put in place by the controversial and now defunct Dublin Docklands Development Authority.
It has been long known that managment firms in the Docklands have tried to stop photography in public areas, with security guards harassing people for taking photographs. Some of the managment companies have also attempted to stop children playing in public areas.
The city council spokeswoman said: “The [Grand Canal Square] plaza was originally taken ‘in charge’ by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority and Dublin City Council is in the process of taking over responsibility for the Docklands. As an interim measure and prior to Dublin City Council’s Environment & Transportation Department upgrading the existing signage, the sign attached was erected where the Plaza interacts with existing Dublin City Council infrastructure to allow safe interaction between cyclists and pedestrians on the Plaza.”
She added: “If you require any further information on this, you would need to contact the agents for the Grand Canal Harbour Management Company.”
Asked if there was a timeline to fully integrate the Docklands into the city council structures, the city council said: “The [city council] Dublin Dockland office is in the process of transferring certain areas within the Docklands to the Management Companies that currently operate in the Docklands and is also coordinating the Taking In-Charge of the remaining areas with the Roads Maintenance Division. It is anticipated that this process will be completed during Q4 2017.”
The city council did not respond directly to questions on a consultation recommendations to address the cycling and walking conflict on the square. A presentation given to councillors in 2015 outlined a number of options including permanent or trialed removal of all of the planters, some of the planters, relocating them, or a combination of options. Consultants recommend public consultation on the issue.
The unaddressed conflict on Grand Canal Square led to local area councillors looking for people on bicycles to dismount on the planned College Green Plaza.
Cllr Chris Andrews (Sinn Fein), who proposed the motion for “cyclists dismount” signs on College Green, 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.”
IMAGE: Thanks to Keith Byrne.