IBikeDublin protesters keep cycle path free of Spice Girl coaches

— Reasons for not using other areas for buses includes avoiding traffic disruption.
— “Alternative route” involves cycling on busy roads and deadly junctions.
— Authorities say Spice Girls coach parking on cycle path is Garda issue.
— Campaigners say NTA and city council should not sign off on flawed traffic plan.

Both the National Transport Authority and Dublin City Council yesterday distanced themselves from a Garda plan instructing coaches to park on top of the popular S2S Dublin Bay cycle route.

As we reported on Thursday, Ciarán Cannon, a Fine Gael junior minister; Paddy Monahan, a Social Democrats local election candidate; Donna Cooney, a Green Party candidate and Green Party councillors Ciaran Cuffe, Patrick Costello and Claire Byrne have all objected to coaches parking on top of the Alfie Byrne Road cycle path.

According to I Bike Dublin campaigners and videos and photos posted online, the cycle path was kept clear of all but one bus.

The actions of campaigners to protect the cycle path meant that the cycle path remained functioning in rush hour this afternoon. Videos showed and sources said that there was a steady flow of people cycling, including parents cycling children from a creche in Eastpoint Business Campus.

A spokeswoman for Dublin City Council: “An Garda Siochana compile and implement general traffic management plans associated with large scale outdoor events. This is done in consultation with the relevant parties associated with the event. The summary of the traffic management plan is available on An Garda Siochana website.”

“Issues to do with the licencing of private coach drop off and pick up/ parking are a matter for the Event Organisers (MCD in this instance) and the NTA. The Event Organisers are required by the NTA to source a suitable site to facilitate this in order that required licences can be issued. It is the understanding of Dublin City Council that a number of alternative locations were explored but were deemed not viable. Alfie Byrne Road was considered to be the only viable option,” she said.

She added: “Queries relating to An Garda Siochana arrangements and legal mechanisms for the control and management of this area should be referred to the Garda Press Office.”

Previously the Gardai directed this website to contact Dublin City Council. IrishCycle.com again yesterday contacted the Garda press office, but no response was forthcoming before the time of publication.

National Transport Authority spokesman Dermot O’Gara, said: “NTA licences issued to bus operators for events like this cover the operation of the service from the passenger pick-up point to the passenger drop-off point. What happens to the vehicle after that is determined by An Garda Siochána in accordance with whatever traffic management arrangements they have in place for the event.”

The traffic management plan for the concert claimed that the National Transport Authority coach parking unit which cost €1.7 million is not suitable. This is despite part of the calls for such a parking unit to be built related to parking for large events, and that the planning permission for the coach parking includes extra time allowances for events.

“This is a bus storage facility. It has no facility to drop off or load patrons” the management plan claims. However, cycling campaigners have said that they have no issue with passenger drop off or loading on the Alfie Byrne Road as long as the roadway is used rather than the cycle path being blocked.

Ciarán Ferrie, a spokesman for IBikeDublin said: “We are being failed on all sides by the authorities whose role it is to ensure our safety. An Garda Síochána has prepared a Traffic Management Plan which, in our view, makes the roads less safe for people cycling. Dublin City Council has approved that Traffic Management Plan and has instructed private coach operators to park on the cycle path.”

He continued: “The National Transport Authority operates a coach park five minutes’ drive from Alfie Byrne Road which is specifically designed to accommodate parking for special events and concerts and in which parking is permitted on a 24 hour basis and access and egress is permitted up to 12 midnight, seven days a week. Despite that, the NTA has issued licences to coach operators which disregard the safety of people who cycle.”

Ferrie added: “There are close to a hundred thousand people cycling in Dublin city daily and the Alfie Byrne Road cycle path is an important part of the very limited infrastructure that keeps people safe while cycling. It is unacceptable that this infrastructure be closed off to facilitate private coach operators serving a privately funded event at one of the busiest times in the day.”

Last year, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan wrote to the then Acting Garda Commissioner in relation to the related matter of illegal parking in cycle lanes which, he said, was forcing cyclists to dangerously merge with other traffic.

Earlier this year, Minister Flanagan stated: “I am concerned that there are continued risks to cyclists on Irish roads. While pleased that there has been an increase in the issuing of fixed charge notices for parking in a cycle track, I am fully aware that more can be achieved to make cycling safer. Roads safety is a collective responsibility, and I would urge the public to be aware of such responsibilities towards other road users, especially vulnerable users such as cyclists.”

Yesterday, a spokesman for the Department of Justice said: The Minister has raised the general issue with the Garda Commissioner. With regard to the specific incident referred to [the Alfie Byrne Road], it is understood that a temporary measure was, in this case, necessary to overcome significant safety implications of an event of this magnitude.

The traffic management plan discusses potential impacts on general traffic, but there is no analysis of bicycle traffic flow and no direct mention of the safety of people who cycle.

An appendix of the event management plan, which deals with coach parking, states: “The consensus opinion is that Alfie Byrne is the most suitable (only site). It can cater for a large volume of coaches with the least impact and inconvenience to city wide traffic and local residents. We appreciate that the it’s use has a serious impact on the cycle lane but alternative routes and advance information we hope will mitigate the impact.”

It is unclear who the consensus mentioned in the document includes.

The claimed alternative cycle route listed on a map in the document does not provide for segregated cycling access back onto the S2S. The Alfie Byrne Road cycle path was busy yesterday evening, including children being transported from a child care facility in Eastpoint Business Campus and commuters coming from the Docklands.

According to a number of sources, Gardai yesterday at first directed people to the Fairview Park gate on Alfie Byrne Road but this gate was locked yesterday evening and is not part of a current designated cycle route in the park. Dublin City Council officials on charge of the park were unaware of the proposed detour and there was no signs outlining it.

As IrishCycle.com has previously covered, monitored bicycle parking at large events is the norm in many cities. For example, in San Francisco it is a legal requirement to provide bicycle parking for events requiring a street closure and with  anticipated number of participants greater than 2,000. The traffic management plan for the Spice Girl at Croke Park has no mention of bicycle parking.

MORE: Spice Girls Event traffic and coach plans

A sample of the reaction on Twitter:

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.

4 Comments

  1. According to the event management plan for the concert at Croke Park:
    “The consensus opinion is that Alfie Byrne is the most suitable site.”

    Well, I’d like to know what exactly went into this ‘consensus’ decision, because it’s utterly appalling that this very busy commuter route for people on bikes was deemed void for that exact purpose. Instead they decided that this important PUBLIC facility was to be used for PRIVATE coach operators to park their multi-tonne vehicles on top of.

    Was there any real consideration for what all the people on bikes would do? Are they even aware of just how many people cycle here?. They was no alternative route available because the ‘alternative’ route existed on paper only. The supposed entry to Fairview Park to access the alternative route was locked and inaccessible for people on bikes. The incompetence of those who are supposedly in charge is astounding.

    It reminds me of the Great powers in the 1800s carving up chunks of Africa and Asia by simply drawing lines on maps without any understanding of the actual local conditions, and without any care for the local inhabitants. Indeed the locals were deemed to be inferior so they didn’t matter at all. It sounds very much like the attitude shown for the safety of people on bikes in this country.

    In addition, who undertook an audit of whether the cycle-track could withstand the weight of the coaches? …….Actually that’s a rhetorical because we all know that no-one carried out any such audit. Would the the private coach operators have had to contribute to any repairs that would need to be done? No, of course not, ……that was another rhetorical question.

    Who decided that these coach operators should be allowed to drive these massive vehicles onto the UNESCO biosphere reserve buffer zone? Where’s the accountability for any of this?

    Who owned the metal bipod stands that held the signs saying that the cycle lane was to be closed? They weren’t put there by either the Gardai, nor Dublin City Council, nor the NTA. Were they put there by the management group responsible for organizing the concert at Croke Park? If so did they have the appropriate licence to place these signs on a public right-of-way? Again, does no-one care about following the rule of law?

    The cycle-lane was supposed to be closed from 5pm, but at least one coach driver blocked the cycle-lane from before 4pm. When I told him to move he refused. Why did the Gardai just stand by and ignore this illegality?

    According the the Garda traffic plan, the cycle-lane on the west side of the road, down towards the E Wall Rd end was to be kept clear of coaches, and yet multiple coaches drove on top of the cycle-lane and blocked it. Why did the Gardai just stand by and ignore this illegality?

    Where’s the accountability for any of this? The Gardai cannot be above the law. The Gardai are sworn to uphold the law, and yet they repeatedly failed to do so today whilst simultaneously managing to create a situation that actually endangered people on bikes.

    As shown today, by the people who volunteered to keep the Alfie Byrne cycle lane open, people travelling by coach were still able to attend the concert without the cycle-lane being blocked. So, next time, maybe those in power would like to form a consensus with those of us who commute by bike and who are directly affected by poor and ignorant decision making.

  2. Maybe the next time we should put this sort of effort into protecting the cycleway at the time of the planning and license application. If we could get legal representation to challenge the concert in the first place we would be on a stronger footing. Completely agree with Citizen Wolf’s letter. Well done to everyone involved with protecting the cycleway.

  3. Mike McKillen May 25, 2019 at 9:33 am

    Well said Citizen Wolf!
    It is clear that these ‘event management plans’ for traffic/parking are not drawn up by AGS but rather by private engineering consultants acting for private event promoters.
    AGS merely implements them without any regard for the road safety of thousands of people who cycle using infrastructure like this.
    It’s time to sit down with promoters and their consultants because it is clear both the City and AGS merely rubber-stamp what is presented to them by promoters.
    And there is always the legal injunction remedy open to us.

  4. Citizen Wolf….Alfie Byrne Road may well be the most appropriate place for coach parking…although one has to ask about NTA coach park!….but not coach parking on the cycle lane. Traffic restrictions/diversions are possible to enable this to happen without using the Bike Track!

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