— Consultation now live at DublinCity.ie.
A number of Dublin City councillors in the South East area on Monday called for another cycle route public consultation to be delayed.
The same committee previously voted to delay the South Dublin Quietway and this week some of those councillors wanted to delay the city’s first parking-protected route, Fitzwilliam Cycle Route.
The parking-protected nature of the route has the South Georgian Core Residents Association claiming that they are pro-cycling but against this design, which is used on similar cycle routes in Cork, London, Copenhagen, Dutch cities, and, in recent years, in North America.
Council officials have rejected the call and have started public consultation this afternoon, with details on DublinCity.ie. Council officials have already adjusted the design to try to address concerns, and have said they will aim to do the same after wider consultation. The construction on the route is planned for Spring 2019.
Joe Seymour, director with consultant Aecom, said that the route was a secondary route in the Greater Dublin Area. He added that data from See.Sense, a Northern Ireland-based bicycle light and data technology company, gathered as part of the Smarter Dublin Challenge indicates that the route is “quite popular secondary route”.
Seymour added: “It provides a route down to areas such as Trinity College, and many of the offices in the area, so, it is already an important route. When you provide [cycling] facilities, it is likely to increase importance. As you can see the Grand Canal is one of the busiest routes in the area — that would have had very few cyclists before the facilities were provided.”
He said the buffer area between the cycle lane and the car parking would protect people on bicycles from car doors opening and allow people to safely move from their cars to the footpaths, which will remain the same width as is currently the case.
New uncontrolled pedestrian crossing will also be provided midway along each block as well as at each junction, which will be raised across the cycle track. Footpath build-outs at Fitzwilliam Square will also make the distance pedestrians have to cross much shorter.
Seymour said that not only as cyclists gaining from the project, but pedestrian will be gaining a “lot more facilities” along the street.
Future electric charging points will be provided for, with ducting installed out to the parking area. Bicycle parking stands will also be provided along the route and this should reduce the historic railings as bicycle parking.
The cycle path design at larger junctions is the design which is the city expects to use on a number of cycle routes in the city — the exact design of which is yet to be put in the public domain. The city council told IrishCycle.com that the consultation is to be updated today (Friday).
At the South East area meeting of the council this week, Councillor Paddy Smyth (FG) welcomed the route and said that it’s good to hear there is demand for the route as this one of the criticisms leveled at the project.
He added that the route is not parallel to the Grand Canal Route and people on both end up at different ends of Baggot Street.
Cllr Smyth wanted a “misconception put out at the pubic meeting” that the council were going against guidelines by placing a cycle path beside a footpath — this is most commonly where cycle paths are in Dublin and around the world.
Councillor Claire Byrne (Greens) welcomed members of the South Georgian Core Residents Association in the council chamber’s gallery.
Cllr Byrne said: “I want to be clear on the record that I support cycling infrastructure, I support this section, it’s much needed and I’d like to see it progressed. However, we can’t ignore the fact that residents live on this and have genuine concerns which I hope will be addressed.”
She said that the residents have concerns about accessing their cars — she is aware of best practice but asked that residents be given further reassurance and if there would be ways to protect their parking spaces.
Councillor Mannix Flynn said he is “on record, and wants to see great cycling infrastructure” but said he was “siding with the residents” and wanted the consultation postponed. “I think if you do not have the confidence of the residents you’re doomed,” said Cllr Flynn.
He wanted the council to meet with the residents again — the council officials said that they have had meeting with the residents three times since the last area meeting with councillors.
Council official Christopher Manzira said that the project is in line with international standards for parking protected cycle routes and that there is simular schemes in Cork as well as a small section in place in Dublin City (pictured above).
Manzira said that the council had meetings with the residents and have adjusted the design of the route and will carry out another car parking survey to try to reassure residents. A previous parking survey showed there was enough parking along the route, especially, in the evenings.
Councillor Frank Kennedy (FF) outlined how he was confused by conflicting statements from the council and residents.
He said there was conflicting evidence over three issues — the safety of pedestrians, if the project is procedurally flawed, and if building the cycle route was against the policy of the council to have more residents move into the historic houses in the Fitzwilliam Square area.
Despite what he called “irreconcilable” differences, he want to the council to reply point to point on the latest letter from the residents association which was sent to him.
In the letter — seen by IrishCycle.com — the residents association continues to make they false claim that the project’s feasibility study “failed to assess the pedestrian risks as it exclusively focused on the cyclist” — this is clearly not the case because the study included pedestrian improvements, and not exclusive focus on cycling.
Cllr Kennedy asked if it was within the gift of councillors to delay the consultation.
Councillor Dermot Lacey (Labour) said that Cllr Kennedy had raised some of the questions he wanted to ask. He said: “This is a conflict of the common good and the interests of some residents and we have to find a way to reconcile those.”
Councillor Mary Freehill (Labour) said that she had similar questions and that the issues being brought up were “kind of reasonable”.
Cllr Freehill said: “I hope I don’t find myself being lacerated on Twitter as I have been in the past because I have asked reasonable questions, which is not very helpful when we are trying to get our work done here.”
Cllr Freehill asked that if the consultation is non-statutory why can’t it be delayed or extended.
Cllr Byrne said she backed Cllr Kennedy’s suggestion of replying to the residents again.
Councillor Ruairi McGinley, the committee chariman, said the council had responded in detail and it might need to be clarified what was the outstanding issues. He said the extra pedestrian crossings now planned are welcomed.
Manzira said they have replied to issues, will continue to engage with residents and will reply to all issues raised.
Referring to the cycle Route he said that if the council can encourage people to switch to less polluting modes of transport this would be an improved area to live in.