A father of a 4-year-old boy, who was “left in tears” after adults shouted at the boy, has criticised Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council for painting no cycling markings on wide paths in Marlay Park.
While there’s been a boom in families cycling in the COVID 19 lockdown, some pedestrians have become more nervous. Derek Mills, a resident of the area, claimed his son was “no where near them” when the adults took their frustration out at his son.
He claimed that despite the social distancing requirements, before he could intervene, the annoyed adults got “within a few feet” of his son and shouted at the little boy on May 14.
Mills, said: “While Dublin City Council are making some progressive steps recently, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council have decided to be more regressive in their approach. These attractive pieces of art are now on nearly every turn in Marlay Park. My four-year-old left in tears after been shouted at by two separate adults for cycling his 14inch danger machine no where near them. They actually got within a few feet to share their aggressive wisdom.
“He learned how to cycle here about six weeks ago and has been there almost every day since without issue until today,” he said. “I wouldn’t normally want the attention but this has infuriated me.”
Mills added: “I can no longer bring my one-year-old up on back of bike to see the wildlife too. The only area I can see its allowed is the service entrance which is shared with car drivers and service vehicles. It covers a very small and unsafe area of the park for young children cycling. There are Sheffield stands beside the coffee shop that you can no longer cycle to according to these signs — farcical.”
Ruairí Ó Dúlaing, a senior parks superintendent, said that it was not the council’s intent to dissuade the likes of children and families on bicycles, but that park had a problem with people cycling at speed on the paths. He said that the council would be open to looking at more nuanced signage and consulting with groups on the issue.
It is understood that the signs were planned to be painted on the paths in the park before the lockdown but the work to paint them only happened around May 15.
Oisín O’Connor, a spokesperson for DLR Cycling Group, a local branch of the Dublin Cycling Campaign, said: “Cycling too fast in parks is a problem. Driving too fast on roads is also a problem. There is not a single road in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown where driving has been banned, because of a minority of drivers going above the speed limit. To do so would appear absurd to most people. This kind of decision should be taken transparently, with full consultation with councillors and all park users, including cycling advocates.”
He added: “The first thing that should be considered in matters related to cycling is ‘what effect will this have on children cycling?’. Sadly, this is just the latest example of children being an afterthought when it comes to cycling safety and enjoyment, both in infrastructure and policy.”