New no cycling signs in Dublin park leads to 4-year-old “left in tears” after adults shouts at him

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.

IMAGE: One of the new no cycling signs.

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.”

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.

17 Comments

  1. “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”

    Majority Oisin. Majority. Excellent point well made though.

  2. Oisín O'Connor June 2, 2020 at 8:38 am

    Yes, definitely a majority of drivers are speeding on the roads. Just needed to connect it between the minority of people cycling & minority of people driving. In other news, I have requested all records of the data of all those speed monitor signs you see in DLR. It will make interesting reading.

  3. this is Not new. in 1990 I was stopped by a park warden for cycling in the park. he even phoned my parents I was11.. I grew up living in the estate across the road, cycling was always prohibited in the park. but to access the mountains we used to go through the park

  4. NOTICE TO CYCLISTS, SKATEBOARDERS, AND ROLLER SKATERS
    Be aware that pedestrians have the right of way at all times, and often move erratically.
    Please be considerate:
    – keep to a responsible speed,
    – stay in control, and
    – slow to walking speed to pass.

    There, was that really so hard?

  5. @Barak, yes exactly. Something like that is all that’s needed (in short term). And have park wardens on hand to address the minority who don’t stick to those rules. In long-term, segregated paths in all parks (like the Baldoyle-Portmarnock Greenway) is what’s needed.

    Now if the same level of dedication was given to making drivers aware of their responsibility to other road users, we’d be making real progress.

  6. I entered the park yesterday and a man in his 30s cycled in, over one of these no cycling signs, then slammed on the brakes narrowly missing a 2 year old coming around the corner on a scooter. A small child is likely to be very seriously injured by a cyclist. I agree signage should be modified to make it clear kids on bikes is okay. Same rules as cycling on footpaths no? Parents with children are allowed on footpaths?

  7. What Mr Mills appears to not realise either through his own ignorance or otherwise is that his four year old “cycling his 14 inch danger machine” is likely to be looking anywhere but straight ahead and hit into an older adult/elderly person walking in the park and possibly causing them to fall and suffer an injury. The problem of course with very young children on bikes etc in public spaces is lack of parental supervision so for the safety of all park users cycling and scooters etc should not be permitted in Marlay Park.

  8. Going for a walk in the park is about enjoying the peace and tranquility. Marlay Park is too small a space for cycling. Can parent not get off their bikes in the park to show there children nature and respect for fellow citizens. Joseg

  9. Where is there a safe place to take kids cycling if not the park? Would you have a 4 year old cycle on the main road? I’m a parent and I wouldn’t.

  10. Emigrant of earth June 3, 2020 at 9:37 pm

    Jhonn McCabe,

    I partially agree, parents needs to provide safety and better supervision . But don’t forget when you were a kid . As a child you supposed to make mistakes , and those adults who shouted with the kid , should reconsider how they react to a child, causing trauma and stress for his family is not the solution. I understand that people are all hyped up and stressed out for many good reason,but there must be a respectful clear way of communication between adult and child . End of the day this child may become the next president ,and you don’t want him to take revenge , do you ? :)

  11. When did we all become so precious? Our parks are where children should be able to play, living in DLR is becoming farcical.
    Pedestrians need to have some level of self responsiblilty, last week I witness a pedestrian walk right into a cyclist and knock them off their bike because they didnt look before walking into a cycle lane with headphones on.
    A child on a scooter ran into me in Marlay the other day, their parent and the child apologised, incident over.
    Plenty of countries manage to have cyclists and pedestrians happily use the same parks, roadways and paths, why cant people accept that others deserve to use our ammenities too and children never learn to be careful or respectful cyclists and pedestians if we dont expose them to these situations.
    Walkers are not the only ones who deserve to enjoy our parks.

  12. Elaine Shealing (Mrs) June 4, 2020 at 7:19 am

    I have enjoyed many parks around Dublin especially Marlay Park, I have a disability, and have met MANY a child at speed on bicycles and scooters without any regard for other park users. I did suggest to one ‘yummy mummy’ with a coffee in her hand that she should ‘rein in’ her children to be told to ‘Eff off it’s a free country.”

    Yes I was once a child, but my parents instilled in me respect for others and especially respect for my elders, so in this instance neither ‘yummy mummy’ nor child had any respect whatsoever.

    As for social distancing and cyclists, there is a form of cycling called SINGLE FILE and not 3 abreast on the public road.

    When I was a cyclist we would respect other road users no matter what form of transport was being used, mechanical or animal, however in the last 20 years or so I have witnessed a growing increase of cyclists of ALL ages having no regard to the laws of the land and rules of enclosed spaces… No cycling MEANS no cycling…

    There is a reason – an accident has happened therefore in this instance in this article the guardian / parent is responsible for the child disobeying the rules, whether the child has learned to cycle 6 weeks ago or 6 months ago doesn’t matter, you are breaking the long standing rules of the park. The parent wants to change the rules because the child now can ride a bicycle?

    No….

    Have some respect for others..

    Presently cyclists use footpaths (without marked cycle path), they break red lights ad nauseum, they cycle on roadways when there is a perfectly well maintained cycle path (no glass on it) and take up entire traffic lane instead of cycling single file. They think they own every available surface and now want our parks?

    HAVE SOME RESPECT if there is a sign that says no cycling then do NOT cycle. Children need to understand there are rules and regulations that they must abide by. That’s the way life is. In time to come will they drive their cars on footpaths? Will they break red lights? Because Daddy said we don’t need to obey the rules?

    This article is yet another example of flouting rules and the law by cyclists.

    From a former avid cyclist

  13. Thank you Elaine. Your points are very clearly made.

  14. Hello Elaine… thank you for your comment. Telling somebody to “rein in” isn’t really a civilised way to speak… it would be far more helpful to talk to someone and try to explain your issue.

    The type of comment being left under this article are unfortunate, but in another way great as they show grown adults like yourself think so illogically about today’s cyclists that they see little wrong with an adult shouting in a four-year-old’s face in the middle of a pandemic.

    Also, you’re brushing over the fact the council said it was not their intent to ban children cycling. But people like you let your grievances and hate about cyclists cloud your judgment and get angry at little children.

    As for you being a former cyclist, that doesn’t for one second justify your hate. Cyclists going three abreast is very uncommon and usually indicates a depth perception issue in the eyesight of some drivers can be very dangerous.

    And I know changes can be hard, but saying something should stay the way it is just because it’s been that way for a long time is a poor article. We should look at the pros and cons of every change, not just say it’s always been that way.

  15. The main issue with cycling in Marlay Park is adults. Those who move at speed without regard for the ‘trauma’ caused to older people as they whiss by them. Then there are the adult who see the park as the place for their children to freely express themselves ie dont worry your never wrong. The park is extremely busy and unless adults and children proceed in a restrained manner they are ruining the experience for the majority who are on foot.

  16. Disappointed to see some of the responses to this article but it really doesn’t surprise me. John McCabe post just made me chuckle though. He simply cant hide his hatred for people on bikes, even children – God love him

    My “ignorance” was bringing my four year old up to that park every day for six weeks. He can now cycle up to 10km and his confidence has hugely grown with this independence. – what a terrible father I am.

    I have since returned to the park in recent days since the comments were made by DLR parks that these signs are not directed towards children and even families cycling. Unfortunately, as long as these signs are not clear that children can cycle,it leaves it open that this can still happen again and knock his confidence. I’m not sure if I could be as calm the next time so it may be not worth it for us.

  17. As for the Irony of Mrs Elaine Shealing comments HAVE SOME RESPECT, It wasn’t lost on me. I wish you had the respect to actually read what was written in the article. You seem to have addressed points that were never made and ignored the fact that a 4 year old child was shouted at. It wasn’t you by any chance?

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