Councillor campaigning against child-friendly roundabout says “it’s harder to deny climate change”

A councillor who is actively campaigning against a roundabout redesign aimed at getting more school children walking and cycling to school wants her council to act on climate change.

As we reported in 2017, the Citizens Assembly voted to call on changing Ireland’s transport funding away from roads and to prioritise public transport and cycling.

With no apparent realisation that getting people walking and cycling is a key transport-related climate change action, Cllr Deirdre O’Donovan said in a radio discussion in January that “we need to be proactive” on climate change, when moments before she was complaining about roundabout aimed at getting children walking and cycling to school.

The formally non-party South Dublin County Council councillor has recently jointed Fianna Fail.

Some residents have complained online that the traffic changes at the Scholarstown Road and Orlagh Grove Roundabout in South Dublin have caused extra congestion, while other locals have said that the problem is that too many people in the area drive.

Last year, the Echo newspaper quoted 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.”

In the discussion on the Friday Forum on Dublin South FM, Cllr O’Donovan claimed that the shared use path was a National Transport Authority design “and I have to say that because the council have been getting a lot of stick about it” — however, it is standard practice is for the NTA to fund projects but designs are agreed between the councils, their consultants and the NTA.

The logos of both the NTA and South Dublin County Council appeared on drawings for the project and the council ran the public consultation process for the project.

Cllr O’Donovan said she got “an awful lot of stick from cyclists” when she complained about the roundabout.

Referring to a shared walking and cycle path leading to the roundabout Cllr O’Donovan said: “We now have a shared surface path which is so large but only children and parents cycling slowly with children are allowed on it. So, the commuter cyclists, like my own husband, are forced out onto a road that has been so narrowed that two buses cannot pass at the same time.”

However, while commuter cyclist may choose not to use shared paths, is not the case that they are not allowed on them. Despite objections from many people who cycle and cycling campaigners, shared paths have been widely used.

In the discussion Cllr O’Donovan recurringly focused on water conservation. She said buses were full so people cannot get out of their cars, and also said that there was not enough infrastructure in her area.

Cllr Patrick Costello Green Party, who was also in radio discussion, said Dublin City Council asked the Minister for Transport for a meeting on cycling but has gotten nothing but “tumbleweed” since.

Cllr Costello said: “For me the real worry are the people who accept climate change but aren’t willing to do anything about it. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report says we have 12 years to act — we should have been acting long ago.

He added: “We had a debate in the council chamber and everybody spoke about how important climate change is but the moment there’s going to be a vote on a bus gate for College Green or improving cycling and public transport which impacts on car drivers you have all of these people voting against it.”

He said that people look for alternatives but that the projects councillors object to are part of the alternatives.

Cllr O’Donovan replied and said that she voted against the Dodder Greenway “because it was not going to take one car off the road”.

DRAWINGS OF THE REDESIGN:

MORE: Details of the Scholarstown Road Improvement Works (sdcc.ie)

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.

3 Comments

  1. Climate delayers.

  2. The only problems I see there are the length of time the roadworks have been going on (since well before Christmas) and the way it mixes cyclists and pedestrians on a wide path.

  3. There was a cycle path before which has now been subsumed by the new dual pedestrian/cycle wider path and that’s fine from the roundabout down to the school but the roundabout design itself is dangerous as it’s so narrow now that trucks, vans, buses etc are faltering on their approach. There are many photos of larger vehicles stuck trying to get around it. The problem with Knocklyon is that we have a really woeful public transport service and lots of families who live miles away from the local school. People who can cycle, do cycle but many of us cannot. If you have to drop three children to primary school or creche and then get yourself to work, you really are going to have to drive.

    This is not just a problem affecting a few people – thousands of people have signed an online petition and many local TDs and Councillors are supporting this, not just the one you mentioned. People are parking their cars overnight in housing estates beyond the roundabout to avoid a 30 minute queue down the Scholarstown road in the mornings. With more housing planned for Knocklyon, on this very road, we need a better public transport option if we ever hope to take cars off the road.

    But for now it’s making people’s commutes a misery, I don’t ever recall any cyclists complaining about the situation before they changed the roundabout – what’s the problem then with changing it back?

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