Two Dún Laoghaire TDs, who describe themselves of supporting cycling, while objecting to sections of planned safe routes to schools. The objections relate to points on the routes where motorists are disrupted.
The level of rhetoric around politicians stating that they support cycling but object to parts of cycle routes where motorists are impacted has been slowly increasing in recent years in Dublin. That trend seems to have accelerated in the last year as council advance quick-build projects.
Both local TDs — Cormac Devlin and Jennifer Carroll MacNeill — have written letters expressing their support for cycling in the same breath as objecting to key sections of the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council’s planned three new quick-build cycle route.
The council said the routes are designed to help children cycle to school. The three routes are planned to be built by using a combination of existing greenways and cycle paths and connecting such using a mix of quick-build cycle paths, filtering out through motor traffic on quiet residential streets, and junction changes.
The main areas of concern for the TDs are filtered permeability at Avoca Avenue and making Deansgrange Road one-way to accommodate a two-way cycle path.
These are key sections which will link existing infrastructure. Replying to the TDs on social media, a number of residents with an internist in providing for cycling said that the alternatives won’t work due to issues like complex junctions which aren’t easily fixed. This is a view shared by DLR Cycling, a branch of the Dublin Cycling Campaign.
Oisín O’Connor, a spokesperson for the group, said: “The key element of the Council’s proposal is to have a connected network of safe walking and cycling routes. All of our members, most of whom are local parents of schoolgoing children, support the proposals put forward by the council, mainly because the proposed connected network is largely direct, coherent and safe.”
“It’s disappointing to see some TDs and some Councillors coming out in opposition to these plans, while claiming to welcome them. The water network, the sewage network and the road network are all connected up and safe for local residents to use. There is no valid reason why the cycling network shoud be disjointed and disconnected,” he said.
In relation to making Deansgrange Road one-way for motorists to provide for safe cycling, O’Connor said: “It’s natural to be cautious about proposed changes and people who are not as familiar with the society-wide benefits of active travel infrastructure need to be taken on a journey — in reality most people fall into this middle ground category.”
The last year the NTA’s Bike Life survey found that “84% of residents in Dublin also support building more physically separated on-road cycle tracks, even when this would mean less space for other road traffic”, and there’s similar support for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods which face vocal opposition in the UK but polling research found that a majority of residents support then.
However, as with similar walking and cycling projects in Ireland, the UK and elsewhere where motorists are disrupted, vocal opposition is evident against the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council’s plans.
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O’Connor added: “Unfortunately, as we have seen in reaction to other progressive proposals, there are a small number of people who’ve taken a militant stance in regard to the Deansgrange Road proposal in particular. As seen with the Coastal Mobility Route, once installed and most local people see the wide benefits, it’s very hard for extremists to reverse successful initiatives. The only way to find out if people’s genuinely-held concerns turn out to be true, is to trial and observe the results after at least a few months.”
In a letter to the council, local Fianna Fáil TD Cormac Devlin said: “There is strong public support for improving safer cycling and pedestrian routes in the County. The vast majority of the three schemes proposed by officials are welcome. Unfortunately dismenitation of these plans was sporadic as several estates had not received the Council printed brochure.
“That said, legitimate concerns exist surrounding the impact of the closure of Avoca Avenue and the proposal to make Deansgrange Road one-way. These aspects of the routes should not proceed as proposed and alternatives should be considered,” said Devlin.
He added: “I note residents, community, civic society and business groups from Dun Laoghaire Rathdown have engaged with officials and made a significant volume of submissions, I trust their views will be given proper consideration when officials come forward with the results of this public engagement process.”
In a letter to residents, local Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, said: “I’m writing to you today in relation to the proposals to make Deansgrange Road a one way road under the ‘New Safe Walking and Cycling Routes’ proposal. I may have already been in contact with you by phone or email, but I wanted to send a letter to affected residents so as you know exactly where I stand and what I am doing on this matter.”
Carroll MacNeill added: “While I am supportive of infrastructure that improves safety for cyclists and pedestrians, I believe that this particular element of the proposal has significant practical effects that are hugely challenging. I believe this proposal, in its current format, should not go ahead. The junction with Kill Lane is one of the busiest and largest in our whole area. I have worked very closely with the Council to support the development of additional cycle infrastructure in other areas, and while many of us actively welcome enhanced cycle facilities, we have to recognise the practical realities of that already extremely busy junction.”
In another letter regarding Avoca Avenue, Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, said: “While I am supportive of infrastructure that improves safety for cyclists and pedestrians, I recognise that this proposal has significant negative impacts on the of long-standing residents. I believe this proposal, in its current format, should not go ahead.
In referring to the filtered permeability￼￼ planned on Avoca Avenue, she said: “I cannot agree with the proposal to close Avoca Avenue, and I cannot quite understand the logic of it.”
Filtering out through traffic by using bollards or planters is a standard method of reducing traffic on residential streets to make walking and cycling more attractive.
She added: “Other changes have made a lot of sense to me, because they have accommodated both car access and cycle routes, whereas this one will only accommodate cyclists and cause significant disruption. I have worked very closely with the Council to support the development of additional cycle infrastructure, but we must look after both residents and other area users.”
When challenged by DLR Cycling on Twitter, Carroll MacNeill said that she has been “completely supportive of every new cycle initiative so far” in the DLRCC area and that she only objects to two streets.