Dublin councillor objects to road redesign aimed at school children

IMAGE: The redesign of the Orlagh Grove Roundabout at Scholarstown Road, Rathfarnham, with some road markings of the old design also shown.

— 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.”

I am editor of IrishCycle.com and have reported on and commented on cycling in Ireland for over a decade. My background is in journalism -- I have a BA in Journalism from DCU and HDip in Print Journalism from BCFE. I wrote about cycling for national newspapers, and then started CyclingInDublin.com for overflow stories. Later the website was re-branded to reflect a more national focus.

7 Comments

  1. Quick , let’s get it changed back before people realise it makes a huge improvement to the quality of life of many of the residents .

  2. So it’s completely blocked by cars all the time now according to this councilor but the problem isn’t that there are too many cars, it’s that there isn’t enough roads. I feel I’ve hard that before.

    Also, every time I hear “I’m not anti-cycling” I can’t help but hear “I just don’t give a shit about it” tacked on.

  3. “I’m not anti-cycling…”

    Hahaha, once again the ‘I’m not a racist, but….’ sentiment.

    At this stage, whenever I hear that ‘I’m not anti-cycling…’ phrase, I know they’re absolutely anti-cycling.

  4. i cycle to work and back every day,(25klms round trip) and my kids attend the School nearest this roundabout. However, I agree with the councillor here. The one lane only to the roundabout is causing tailbacks and traffic, and created a big problem where there was none. This isn’t the appropriate solution for this site

  5. @Shaun — I just got this from the council:

    “We have enclosed a link showing a drone survey that was carried out at this roundabout showing that the two lanes on the Scholarstown Road Eastern Arm were rarely used and when they were caused conflicts.” Link: https://www.sdcc.ie/en/services/transport/cycle-tracks-and-greenway-schemes/scholarstown-road/

  6. How many of these people drive their kids to the school instead of walking or cycling, and need to park as close as possible to the classroom

  7. I use that route for my cycle commute to Citywest and that new layout neither contributes to cyclist safety or more sustainable forms of commuting. The Cllr. is right. Its dreadful what they did there. I hate cycling through that roundabout now. Drivers – understandably – are spending all their time concentrating on getting through it or not clipping the kerb rather than keeping an eye out for pedestrians or cyclists like me. Recently we got the 175 which is a bus route to citywest. Perfect except now that bus just gets stuck in a huge tailback trying to get through that bottleneck. I leave no later than 8am and in the past I’d have a pretty uneventful cycle up to the Orlagh. Now its spent mostly winding past cars held up by the new layout, and then holding my breathe as I try to get through that narrowed roundabout to the other side. There are plenty of cycle routes and works to improve pedestrian safety that the South Dublin County Council have got spot on (look at the excellent cycleway from Tallaght village up to the roundabout leading into Glenview). But this is a failed effort. The cost to everyone who has to use that route is enormous. So please lads and ladies please don’t give out about a councillor who just points out that the project has not delivered. The changes at Orlagh make life less safe, slower and the bike lanes around that round about are still not direct enough for commuters.

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