Irish Times criticised for €20m “cycle path” article

— Costs in line with high-quality cycle routes in London, says transport planner.

Ireland’s “newspaper of record”, The Irish Times, was criticised as being “misleading” yesterday by a city councillor, campaigners and others for its coverage of the rising cost of the Clontarf Cycle Route.

The article has resulted in confusion on how such a short cycle route could cost as much, but the project includes full road redesign and resurfacing in Fairview, on the North Strand Road, and in part of Amiens Street.

Under the headline “Cost of 2.7km Dublin cycle path jumps to €20m“, The Irish Times reported yesterday that: “The cost of installing a new 2.7km ‘Dutch style’ cycle path from Fairview to Amiens Street in Dublin’s north inner city has almost tripled to €20 million, according to Dublin City Council documents.

While the article focuses a cycle path of 2.7km, the e-tenders webpage — which is aimed at attracting construction firms to bid for the work — makes it clear that the project is for “2.7km of urban road reconstruction between Alfie Byrne Road and Talbot Street and 1km of greenway through Fairview Park along the River Tolka.” It includes footpath and carriageway renewal, including the wide road in Fairview.

The tender page also says that the works will also include reconfigurations of existing signalised junctions, new walking and cycling crossings, CCTV infrastructure, public lighting, granite paving and kerbing, retaining walls, drainage works, watermain upgrades, utility diversions, landscaping, and new street furniture.

It also says that the work includes construction adjacent to and over live rail lines, and on or adjacent to the Royal Canal and Tolka River, and around underground cellars and basements.

The article also recapped on now settled aspects of the project including a previous plan to remove a large number of mature trees. The article is similar to previous Irish Times coverage of projects including cycle routes, which focused on headline costs which also did not only include the cycle routes.

Campaigners said that it is unfair to put the full costs on the cycle route alone when the project includes bus improvement and works inside Fairview Park.

“Luas Cross City cost €62.4million per kilometre to build. The Clontarf scheme is working out at €7.4m/km. Not cheap, but it’s not just a cycleway, it’s also a major upgrade to the bus network, Fairview Park and the public realm along the entire route”, said the Dublin Cycling Campaign on Twitter.

Dermot Hanney, a London-based transport planner who is from Ireland, tweeted: “This cost of €7.4m/km is much closer to the cost of the new quality cycling corridors in London.”

He added: “Frankly if you’re looking at the designs for a new cycle path and you don’t see costs/km in this ballpark I’d be sceptical of its quality. We need authorities to accept this reality.”

Former lord mayor and local councillor Naoise O’Muirí (Fine Gael) said: “Hey IrishTimes this has not ‘inflated’ these are effectively changes in scope. Its going to be a great project; (1) maximise the chance for cyclists to get safely from Malahide Rd to Amiens St and vice versa with dedicated space (2) buses get their own channel for going in and out of the city and (3) major public domain improvements along the route including a new Esplanade in Fairview Park. Should have a 20+ lifespan when completed.”

Maria Mulvany, Raheny based local election candidate for Fine Gael, said: “What a misleading headline and article. The design has been massively upgraded, we’ll get a much improved end product for busses & cyclists. The cost is also in line with comparable projects in London. Very poor journalism.”

The Irish Times also stated the project was first proposed 6 years ago when proposals for the route actually date back at least 8 years ago to 2011 or before it. IrishCycle.com first reported on it in early 2012 and proposals were being discussed internally between council officials at least the year before that.

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. As you alluded to, they also poisoned the well by saying, early on in the article, that 50 mature trees which where historic and planted by famous people would have to be cut-down. It was only later in the article (if you bothered to read further) that they mentioned that, oh, well, actually, that stuff about the trees, well, that was sorted out ages ago, and they’re not being cut down at all.

    Horrible ‘reporting’.

  2. The Irish Times is reliably terrible in its coverage of cycling. I cannot work out whether it is just lazy or ill-willed journalism, or perhaps a mixture of both.

  3. If the same way of costing the cycleway had been used on the sutton to clontarf portion where a sewer was laid and anti flood works were done among numerous other improvements the IT could have reported that that section of cycleway would have cost many millions and made a great anti cycling headline.
    We need to see reports show the bare extra cost of providing a cycleway in addition to all other necessary works,otherwise we could say that providing the watermain cost 20 million and we got a free cycleway and free street furniture.
    Now to see how I can bury the cost of my N+1 in the weekly grocery bill.

  4. Newspaper reports on cycling are often jaundiced and inaccurate. This is despite their criticism of governments re polluting cars/climate change etc. I can only presume it’s a psychological issue of guilty feeling car users at the newspaper? :)

  5. Irishtimes is a propaganda rag for those with the biggest wallets . Has proven this over and over again

  6. @BigX
    This is exactly what did happen! I had people say this to me at the time, after reading about the “millions” spent on the small section upgrade to the S2S north.
    >:(
    Bloody cyclists, they said, “why do we have to pay for cyclists, when it’s us motorists that pay for the roads. When will cyclists start paying their way?”. This was said to me as a direct result of them reading about the “millions” spent.

  7. Oisín O'Connor March 2, 2019 at 11:35 am

    It’s very abstract to criticise “The Irish Rimes” for this kind of crap “journalism”. We need to discuss the names of the “journalist” and subeditor. There are humans behind this rubbish and they need to be held to standard.

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