Traffic consultants hired by the Law Society have suggested the destruction of part of Mellows Bridge, the oldest bridge in Dublin City, as a way to keep traffic on the quays at Smithfield after the €16 million Liffey Cycle Route is built.
Based on advice from conservation experts, Dublin City Council already ruled out interfering with the bridge, which was built in 1768.
But consultants acting for the Law Society suggested that removing part of the walls of one side of the bridge would aid traffic flow.
When asked if the Law Society agreed with the recommendation to interfere with the bridge, Craig Easdown, spokesman for the Law Society of Ireland, said: “We’re welcoming of any further opportunity to work with Dublin City Council or National Transport Authority on finding the best solution to achieving a quality North Quays Cycle Way.”
Where Mellows Bridge meets the quay wall (pictured above and below) creates a pinch point at Queen Street which is the narrowest point on the north quays. The quays proceeding and following the junction also narrower than the average width of the full quays.
On Monday, The Times reported that city councillors and cycling campaigners criticised the Law Society-commissioned report for opposing cyclist’s preferred option because the report doesn’t account for predicted traffic reduction.
Plans to develop a Dutch-like two-way cycle path along Dublin’s quays were first revealed in The Sunday Times in 2011. The 6km route between the Phoenix Park to the Point Village is seen as a backbone in a network of safer cycle routes but the city has yet to choose an option, with the main problem area around Mellows Bridge at Smithfield.
A proposal called Option 7, which is preferred by cycling and public transport advocates, removes private motorists from the quays at Smithfield — objectors claim that this will flood north Smithfield and Stoneybatter with traffic, while opponents say that it will lead to traffic dispersion and reduction.
Because of opposition from some local councillors, Option 8 was development — it would involve buses and general traffic sharing one lane on the quays at Queen Street, with traffic lights giving buses priority. It would cost €3 million extra because of a boardwalk-like structure for cycling at Smithfield.
Opponents of the boardwalk option claim it would cause safety issues between cycling and walking as the cycle route would criss-cross the existing footpath a number of times, and a narrow shared path would also be needed.
Councillors were set to vote on the two options before the National Transport Authority (NTA) paused funding while it reviewed the project. The review is expected to be finalised in about five months from now.
The Law Society commissioned report predicts a “significant” increase in air and noise from traffic pollution with Option 7, contradicting a Dublin city council report which said the pollution changes would be “negligible”.
The consultants for the Law Society recommended Option 8 but instead of having traffic lights regulating the flow of buses and cars at the Liam Mellows Bridge, the consultants suggest the destruction of part of the, which was built in 1768 and is the oldest bridge in the city.
Easdown said: “The Law Society’s independent consultant’s report bases its assumptions on available data drawn from Dublin City Council documentation, and the consultant’s report clearly states both the approximated assumption and where that data relates to, ie Batchelors Walk.”
“The overall premise of our feedback to the Council is that, even if a lower level of traffic impact is experienced, this would will be detrimental enough to traffic flow to warrant our preference for Option 8.”
Easdown said, “We are welcoming of any further opportunity to work with Dublin City Council or National Transport Authority on finding the best solution to achieving a quality North Quays Cycle Way.”
Colm Ryder, secretary of the Dublin Cycling Campaign said: “The report from the Law Society engineer suggests that Option 7 will not work. But the Law Society report is based on inaccurate traffic assumptions and Facile assessment of noise and pollution data.”
“Dublin Cycling Campaign maintains its belief that Option 7, combined with traffic calming initiatives and public realm improvement works in Stoneybatter and Smithfield, provides the best solution for the Liffey Cycle Route.”