A TD and councillors have voiced concerns over the removal of bollards protecting a cycle lane in Limerick City, while the council has defended the action stating it happened “in response to Trader concerns regarding access to their premises”.
Yesterday, IrishCycle.com reported how bollards on Limerick’s only cycle lane protection so-far built with the €10m July stimulus funding the council was given was removed already.
A spokesperson for Limerick City and County Council said: “Limerick City and County Council takes all representations from members of the public into account when making decisions.
“The decision to remove some of the recently installed wands on a section of Wickham Street was in response to Trader concerns regarding access to their premises,” he said.
The council spokesperson added: “The council is actively exploring further solutions that will meet the needs of the traders and cyclists in this area.”
A TD for Limerick City, Brian Leddin (Green Party), said: “The Council must treat as one of its highest priorities to create a safe, connected and coherent cycle network in the city, but also in Limerick’s suburbs, its towns and its villages. Only by doing so will we see a significant uptake of cycling. The benefits are in health, safety, and in the vitality of our streets.”
He added: “Removing segregating wands, having only recently installed them, is a poor signal to send and it has made Wickham Street less safe for people on bikes.”
Cllr Conor Sheehan (Labour) said: “I am really disappointed in this and I feel like it is a regressive move. While I understand and appreciate the concerns the traders have in relation to access the basic issue remains that this cycle lane is now once again unsafe for cyclists.”
“The wands were installed because of the persistent problem of a minority of feckless motorists consistently parking on the cycle lane since it was installed. My concern now is this behaviour will resume now that the barrier has been removed,” he said.
Cllr Sheehan added: “If we are to meet our 2030 climate change targets then we need to reduce our reliance on private cars for inter urban journeys. I will be raising this at the next meeting of the Council, this is deeply disappointing.”
Cllr Elisa O’Donovan (independent) said: “Many people have been in touch in relation to the removal of safe cycling infrastructure on Wickham St. Limerick Council notified me earlier that these bollards should not have been installed last week as traders have requested that no bollards be installed. I have met with traders.
She added: “It was my understanding that it would be a safe cycle route. I have expressed my dismay to the council that local representatives were not included in this decision and will follow up at the December metropolitan meeting.”
However, Cllr Emmett O’Brien (independent) said the removal of the bollards was “common sense” to unprotected the Lane and expose it to illegal parking and loading.
The councillor who has previously objected to the Shannon Bridge protected cycle Lane used by a large number of school children, said: “Common sense from @LimerickCouncil to remove bollards unnecessarily impending traders commerce & deliveries! Pedestrianise it. Accommodate all.”
Cllr O’Brien also defended illegal parking on a new cycle lane on Parnell Street, in 2019 he tweeted: “40 years plus of momentary doubling parking has developed on the 1 commercial street left in the city, Parnell Street, to allow mostly tradesmen run in/out of hardware stores, etc. This will hardly change over night in spite of the bike lanes that I’ve yet to be seen used.”
Limerick Cycling Campaign yesterday questioned why one of the five loading bays around Wickham Street was turned into car park around the same time as the council was removing bollards on the cycle lane:
2/ The recently removed loading bay on Thomas Street to facilitate on-street parking for 2 cars. This is a terrible misuse of valuable space. @LimerickCouncil must be the only local authority reallocating space in favour of on-street parking. pic.twitter.com/Y7bgU0MHR9
— Limerick Cycling (@LimerickCycling) December 10, 2020
Speaking to IrishCycle.com yesterday, Conor Buckley, chairperson of the Limerick Cycling Campaign said: “Limerick received €10 million in July stimulus funding. This is significantly more than other regional cities.”
He said: “The addition of wands on Wickham Street was the only notable improvement to cycling infrastructure in the city since this budget was announced. Wickham street serves as a busy cycling route that connects the east of the city to the busy milk market, down to the river path out to the university. To see cycling infrastructure being removed is very concerning.”
“The lack of intent around the implementation of cycling infrastructure in Limerick is extremely concerning. We have received significant funding yet we are not seeing the progress that is happening in other cities. There seems to be a real shortfall when it comes to delivery and implementation particularly in the city,” Buckley said.