— Drone footage used to justify the scheme, promised to use it again to monitor it.
— Council claims car congestion will ease when construction work finishes.
An independent South Dublin councillor, who is a member of Shane Ross’ Independent Alliance, has started a petition against a roundabout redesign aimed at making it safer for children to walk and cycle to school.
South Dublin County Council said that redesign is on a road that is “heavily used by school pupils attributed to several primary and secondary schools located in the vicinity”. The roundabout where construction work is nearly finished is the Orlagh Grove Roundabout at Scholarstown Road, Rathfarnham. The work is phase two of the Tallaght to Ballyboden Cycle Route.
Commenting to IrishCycle.com, Cllr Deirdre O’Donovan said: “I’m not anti-cycling, my husband cycles to and from work. I’m pro-safety and it’s not safe at the moment for motorists or cyclists. That’s why we’re looking to reinstate the lanes, we’re not looking to get rid of the cycle lane, just to reinstate the lanes.”
On her petition, which has gained around 3,600 supporters, Cllr O’Donovan said: “The decision to reduce the lanes approaching the Orlagh Roundabout has created traffic chaos in a community already struggling with poor infrastructure and a growing population. We are calling on South Dublin County Council, working on behalf of the National Transport Authority to Reinstate the Roundabout immediately!”
The Echo newspaper also quotes Cllr O’Donovan as stating: “It makes sense that they want to build a cycle lane so kids can cycle to school – St Colmcille’s is one of the largest primary schools in Europe – but what they’ve done to the road and the roundabout is all for the sake of a few kids to go to school. They’ve made it impossible for motorists. Even at a quarter to four on a Saturday afternoon there’s tailbacks up to the roundabout.”
There has been issues with some trucks mounting kerbs but IrishCycle.com understands that this is linked to an unfinished and closed off overflow area, the area near the centre of roundabouts which is designed allow trucks to drive over.
On the web page for the project the council states that the work was due to be finished by November 20, but a note adds: “Due to unforeseen site conditions, underground services and other design and construction issues, the construction period has been extended to Christmas 2018. We sincerely apologise for the continued inconvenience to the residents and businesses.”
In a letter to residents, the council’s contractors said that work is due to be finished on December 21. The councils said that motorised traffic congestion should then be “reduced significantly” by then and that reinstating the old design would mean “months of additional work”.
The delays in construction has frustrated residents but many think the finishing of the works will not help matters — one said: “This is beyond ridiculous. If it stays I’m moving house. Can’t live like this.”
The redesign, which includes shared walking and cycling paths, is a similar design with zebra crossing has been implemented in a number of locations including Lucan and Tallaght — although, on the new design at Orlagh Grove Roundabout, a zebra crossing will only be used on one leg of the roundabout and toucan crossings at the other three arms.
In Lucan, the design Is recorded as increasing the number of children walking and, lesser so, cycling. At one of the roundabouts the number of children walking increased from 183 to 458 and, at the other, from 60 to 314. Children cycling went from 8 to 20 and 8 to 28 at the two roundabouts respectively.
Objectors complain that the roundabout is the closest to an M50 motorway junction and that it was fine before it was redesigned, but reducing the number of lanes at roundabouts is seen by Irish and international transport planners as key to making them safer and attract more people to walking and cycling.
In communications published by Cllr O’Donovan, the acting director of transport, Laura Leonard said: “I have committed to using a drone early on after completion of the scheme to establish how it is operating and if any issues persist. Should anything come to light from this observation, steps will be taken to address.”
Paul Corcoran, chairman of the Dublin Cycling Campaign said: “It’s a poor reflection for a councillor to initiate this [the petition].”
He added: “It doesn’t reflect the need to switch to more sustainable modes of transport in light of our 12 year window to dramatically reduce our carbon emissions and 1,200 people a year dying from pollution caused by cars fumes.”