WATCH: Family on cycling holiday blocked by barriers on Grand Canal

— Barriers which block child seats and panniers issue for locals on route too.

A family with children on a touring holiday were blocked on the Grand Canal greenway in Dublin yesterday, forced to use busy roads.

The Grand Canal greenway was built as part of a €25 million project which included ESB and other utility ducting. The greenway starts on the city side at Inchicore and offers a nearly 9km traffic-free route to Adamstown.

The barriers on the Grand Canal Greenway were installed to cut down on mopeds using the canal path, but the gates on the route seem to have a bigger impact on legitimate users. IrishCycle.com readers have previously told this website that the barriers do not stop horses or mopeds from being used along the canal and are a source of danger where groups of youths gather.

The tourist family had two children with them — one on their own bicycle and one on a child seat. The bicycles were loaded with touring panniers.

The barriers also block bicycles used by people with disabilities, larger Dutch bicycles or other bicycles with wider handlebars, and cargo bicycles and bicycles trailers used by parents to cycle their children, as well as carrying pets or other cargo.

Twitter user @CitizenW0lf, who caught the family having to turn back on his bicycle’s camera, said: “This family had cycled across Europe, only to be met with this shite here. Utterly embarrassed to see this happening.”

The twitter user said that the flag on their bicycle suggests that they were Czech.

Last year when covering this issue, 85% of 368 respondents to a poll run by this website said that they would me more likely to use the canals if the restrictive barriers were removed. Another 8% said that they may be more likely to use the canals if the barriers were removed.

The “eyes on the street” approach to planning and design shows that when there’s more people using a space, passive surveillance reduces the number of isolated places where crime can take place unseen and makes areas unwelcoming to anti-social behaviour. This was used to keep DublinBikes stations safe.

At the time last year, Katrina McGirr, spokeswoman for Waterways Ireland, the all-island body which looks after canals, said: “The canal towpaths managed by Waterways Ireland welcome a wide range of users, including leisure cyclists, walkers and commuters. The barriers in place have been placed to assist the safe use of the towpath by these users. Anti-social and criminal behaviour is a matter for the Gardai.”

Asked what exactly the barriers are designed to stop, McGirr said: “I can confirm that the barriers are in place to regulate the users of the towpath, encouraging safe speeds and recognition of the diversity of users. Anti-social people within some communities have always used a range of activity to impact on their own communities usage of the public recreational space on the towpath. Waterways Ireland has worked with the Gardai over many years in addressing these issues and will continue to do so.”

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. “Anti-social people within some communities have always used a range of activity to impact on their own communities usage of the public recreational space on the towpath.”

    I’m lost.

  2. The more people who can use the greenways for enjoyment and utility the less will be the opportunities for vandalism. Anti-social use of the facility thrives when the law abiding citizen is excluded. It has been shown again and again that those who wish to abuse the Grand canal way are not inconvenienced by the gates. I have seen youths passing the gates with a pony and sulky in less time than I can get my bike through. The pony is lead through the kissing gate and the sulky is lifted over the gate. If Waterways Ireland and the county council are unaware that they are only stopping the legitimate users they are not fit to control it.

  3. On the very same day that I saw this family turned back by these gates I saw two horses being ridden by two guys on the exact same stretch of Greenway. The gates kept the family on bikes out. It didn’t keep the youths on horses out.

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