— City Council said it is seeking further advice before making a final decision.
— Cllrs back objectors to COVID mobility project despite need for lockdown.
— “Concerted campaign to halt or delay the six-month” says campaigners.
Four Dublin City Council councillors are promoting an emergency motion backing objectors who are seeking to stall the Sandymount cycle route trial, which is due to start next month.
The news has promoted the Dublin Cycling Campaign this morning to warn: “There is a concerted campaign to halt or delay the six-month trial of a safe cycle route on Strand Road. Some local councillors are supporting and enabling those who wish to see this project fail.”
The group added “Make sure your local councillors know where you stand on this issue” and linked to a list of councillor contact details.
In a statement issued on Monday morning, Dublin City Council told IrishCycle.com that the council believes “that it is correct to proceed with the scheme as originally advised but in light of this communication from the STC it is seeking further advice before making a final decision.”
STC refers to Serpentine Avenue, Tritonville Road, Claremont — it is a group set up to oppose the cycle route. As we report in a separate article today, there are little or no online record for some groups mentioned in emergency motion.
The council said that it was having regard to Government advice on the need to implement walking and cycling and related projects to address transport issues arising in the current COVID-related environment, and the need to develop sustainable transport projects to address the transport elements of the climate and biodiversity emergency declared by the Government in May 2019.
It said that the council “have engaged an independent consultant to undertake a screening exercise for Appropriate Assessment and Environmental Impact Assessment of the trial, the view of the consultant is that neither are required.”
The council added that it was asking that: “community groups would still engage with the forum as the forum comprises a wide range of views on the scheme including those residents in support of the scheme. The engagement to date has been constructive and informative and Dublin City Council would very much wish this to continue.”
The South East Area Committee motion is in the name of four councillors — Cllr James Geoghegan (FG), Cllr Dermot Lacey (Labour), Cllr Paddy McCartan (FG) and Cllr Claire O’Connor (FF).
The motion by the councillors asks that the area committee meeting today (Monday) “acknowledges the depth of community feeling expressed towards the proposed Strand Cycle Route Trial as represented in the online public meeting organised by the ‘STC Community Group’ attended by over 300 Sandymount residents on the 4th of January 2021”. IrishCycle.com understands attendees also included those who support the trial.
The emergency motion by the councillors went onto ask that the committee “notes the statement by STC” — IrishCycle.com reported on the details of the statement last week.
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In an email to the council, the STC group said that the “proposal as presented requires planning permission given its scale and its cumulative effect on the Sandymount, Ringsend, Irishtown and Ballsbridge communities.”
The email by STC said that Dublin City Council “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.”
The group is at the early stages to referring the matter as a planning review issue to An Bord Pleanala. The council is not obliged to pause the trial and there has so-far been no mention of looking for a High Court injunction which would stop the trial from going ahead.
For the trial and similar projects, Dublin City Council relies on the Road Traffic Act, as amended by the Public Transportation Regulation Act. The legislation, enacted by the Dail, allows for wide-ranging changes to existing roads and streets, including fully closing off streets to motorists.
The legislation allows the council 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).”
It “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 councillor’s motion also includes to look to “resolves to reduce the current community divisions that have arisen as a consequence of the proposed trial by whatever means necessary”.
However, the motion also notes that the STC group has requested “that the business of the Strand Road Interim Cycleway Community Forum should be paused until their referral has been adjudicated” — in other words, the four councillors are backing the call to pause the Lord Mayor’s forum which seeks to resolve divisions while they are also requesting that divisions are resolved.
The councillors also want the committee to write to the “Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan and the National Transport Agency to revisit the ‘Feasibility Study and Options Assessment Report on the Sandymount / Merrion to Blackrock Cycle Route Corridor Study – September 2015’ with a view to constructing a promenade along Sandymount Strand and delivering a long term cycleway on the seaward side of the Strand Road.”