Sustainable transport campaign groups have called on Dublin City Council to press ahead with the Strand Road cycle route trial in Sandymount after STC, a group which was set up to oppose the project, pulled out of a community form.
STC said that they are to seek a planning review of the project. The objectors have also billed themselves as “Pro Cycling” — an echo of many groups which object to cycle routes across different countries.
Dublin City Council proposed the route as a COVID-19 mobility project. By making Stand Road one-way space is freed up to be used as a cycle path and this would link up to a route to Sandycove. In total it would be over 10km of near-continuous segregated cycle route.
The council today said on social media that it was extending the deadline for the public consultation on the Beach Road section of project. So-far it’s unclear if construction of the main project will be delayed or not.
Dublin Cycling Campaign and Dublin Commuter Coalition said today that they want the council to press ahead with the already delayed “rapid deployment” trial.
Kieran Ryan, a spokesperson for the Dublin Cycling Campaign, said: “While we are disappointed that some groups have decided to withdraw from the community forum, we are still fully supportive of the proposed Strand Road trial. Today marks five months since the six-month trial of a cycle route along Strand Road was first proposed.”
He added: “There is nothing to be gained by further delaying this trial, which has already gone through extensive public consultation, and we hope to see the temporary cycle route put in place as soon as possible.”
Feljin Jose, public relations officer with the Dublin Commuter Coalition￼, said: “We support the Dublin City Council proposal in its current form and wish to see the trial implemented as soon as possible with a view to monitor, learn and adapt during the trial.”
Jose said: “Dublin City Council has gone above and beyond by holding community forum meetings and conducting a consultation which received thousands of responses. The fact that respondents were 2:1 in favour of the proposal demonstrates that there’s large support for this proposal.”
“It’s regrettable that a small group of opponents have delayed the proposal so far and are continuing to attempt to delay it further. We hope that Dublin City Council can resolve this quickly,” he said.
He added: “Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council were able to implement the Coastal Mobility Route in two months. This six month trial was first proposed five months ago with implementation another month away. Further delays would make the design and consultation period longer than the trial itself which would set a terrible precedent for this new trial method in the Dublin City Council area. We will never meet our climate action or air pollution reduction targets if opponents are able to stall every small measure like this.”
In an email sent to the council, the STC group — which was set up to oppose the trial cycle route — said it was asking for An Bord Pleanala to review the planning of the route.
In the email, STC group said that itself and a “large number of other community groups” wanted a planing review, but instead of listing groups, it only named one other group, SAMRA and then listed streets, roads and even areas.
It said that it believes that the council’s “proposal as presented requires planning permission given its scale and its cumulative effect on the Sandymount, Ringsend, Irishtown and Ballsbridge communities.”
The email said: “DCC has stated in a reply to our solicitors that it believes its proposal qualifies as exempted development but we do not agree with this proposition and have received advice to the contrary.
“As you are aware provisions already exist under current legislation to deal with such situations and accordingly we have now instructed our professional advisors to prepare a S.5 referral to An Bord Pleanala [pursuant to the provisions of the Planning and Development Act 2001/2017] in order that the matter can be adjudicated upon,” it said.
Dublin City Council did not respond to a request for comment before publication of this article. However, the council and the National Transport Authority rely on the the Road Traffic Act 1994 (Section 38) as amended by the Public Transportation Regulation Act, 2009 (Section 46).
The legislation allows for wide-ranging changes to existing roads and streets, including fully closing off streets to motorists.
Public Transportation Regulation Act, 2009 expands the meaning of traffic calming in Road Traffic Act 1994 to include the ability to “restrict or control the speed or movement of, or which prevent, restrict or control access to a public road or roads by, mechanically propelled vehicles (whether generally or of a particular class) and measures which facilitate the safe use of public roads by different classes of traffic (including pedestrians and cyclists).”
The primary legislation, enacted by the Dail, goes onto added that this “includes for the purposes of the above the provision of traffic signs, road markings, bollards, posts, poles, chicanes, rumble areas, raised, lowered or modified road surfaces, ramps, speed cushions, speed tables or other similar works or devices, islands or central reservations, roundabouts, modified junctions, works to reduce or modify the width of the roadway and landscaping, planting or other similar works.”
The STC group did not mention a High Court injunction, rather it it said “…we would ask DCC/NTA/Dublin Bus to wait for the result of this referral before the trial period or any works are commenced.”
It said that “We believe this to be a fair and balanced approach”, however, the delay involving in going to An Bord Pleanala would likely take at best months or more than a year, which would make the project redundant as a COVID-19 Mobility Response.
Echoing other groups around the world which claim to support cycling while objecting to cycle routes, the STC group said: “For the avoidance of all doubt we wish to put on the record that all of the above community groups are” Pro Cycling” and support the “Off Road” Cycle-Way as envisaged by the original S2S proposal which has been in existence for many years. We would sincerely ask that DCC re-engage with the NTA and Minister Ryan to make it possible so it can be enjoyed by everyone including visitors to our wonderful capital City.”