Strand Road cycle route trial given red light by High Court

— Transport Minister says Government to assess today judgement.

A trial cycle route on Strand Road in Dublin — which was planned to use one lane of traffic to make a two-way cycle path — has been blocked by the High Court.

At 12.10pm, Village Magazine tweeted: “Flynn/Carvill win their judicial review of the Sandymount cycleway. High Court says cycleway was permanent not temporary, that it was ‘road development’, that pollution and nuisances were not considered in Conor Skehan’s inadequate screening report and there should have been EIA.”

Transport minister Eamon Ryan said: “We will assess today’s Strand Road decision and will work with local authorities so they can continue to promote better public health, enhance the local environment and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”

Former Lord Mayor Cllr Hazel Chu (Green Party) said: “This is an utterly disappointing decision on Strand Road cycle way. The very point of a trial is that it’s temporary so as to assess whether something works or not.”

She added: “We must continue to push for better, safer and sustainable cycling and walking infrastructure for all.”

Cllr Catherine Stocker (Soc Dems) said: “This decision is a huge blow to the delivery of safe cycling infrastructure in the South city and has potentially far-reaching implications for the improvement of active travel infrastructure across the country. The Coastal Mobility Route was put in place using similar provisions and may now potentially be under threat.”

“We are at a critical impasse in terms of climate, congestion and air quality and we no longer have the luxury of moving slowly. Ambitious measures are needed to meet our climate targets and Dublin City Council have shown just such ambition in moving forward with this project,” she said.

Cllr Stocker added: “The Social Democrats are strongly of the view that Dublin City Council needs to stay the course and appeal this decision. Strand Road is predicted to be below sea level by 2050. Opposition to measures that reduce carbon emissions is misguided and does a disservice to the local community.”

Reacting to the judgement, Kevin Baker, chairperson of Dublin Cycling Campaign, said: “We’re bitterly disappointed by this outcome. It is a lost opportunity to trial an amenity which would have enabled people of all ages and abilities to safely and comfortably cycle along the seafront on Strand Road.”

He said: “We’ve seen a similar amenity in neighbouring Dún Laoghaire, the Coastal Mobility Route, become an overwhelming success over the past year. It has enabled more people to cycle and it has reinvigorated the coastal communities through which it passes, including Blackrock, Dún Laoghaire and Sandycove.”

“Strand Road is a vital missing link in a coastal cycle route around Dublin Bay. Dublin Cycling Campaign will continue to engage constructively with all stakeholders to find a safe and attractive cycling solution on Strand Road, which remains a hostile environment for anyone who wishes to cycle there,” Baker said.

He added: “We are also in a climate crisis, to which our transport emissions contribute significantly, so the onus is on the authorities to create an environment where sustainable, emissions-free transport modes like cycling become the norm, rather than the exception.” 

Background

The High Court case was brought by Peter Carvill, representing the Serpentine Avenue, Tritonville and Claremont Roads (STC) group, which was set up to object to the trial cycle route, and Cllr Mannix Flynn, who is a councillor in a neighbouring area and is a serial objector to cycle routes. While the case was on-going, a judge has granted a stay — a temporary legal block — on all works related to Dublin City Council’s Strand Road cycle path trial in Sandymount.

Cllr Mannix Flynn and STC claimed that the council are going beyond its powers by not applying for planning permission for the cycle route trial and by not catering out an environmental assessment. It was recently stressed in the High Court that this was especially needed because Dublin Bay is a protected area.

The objectors environmental concerns follow objecting groups previously suggesting a host of alternative options which would have seen work closer to the coast line.

On the issue of planning permission, the council and the National Transport Authority have relied 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.”

Cian Ginty
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.

4 COMMENTS

  1. If this notice is correct its a major setback for simple road improvement projects nationwide and likely to raise further challenges.
    I await view of full judgement

  2. The judge says that the proposed cycle track (on an already existing surface) needed an EIA. In that case, then there’s no reasonable way that the ‘alternative’ route along the sea wall could ever be approved…

    The area is protected by EU law and nothing can be done without first trialling other options… ie.. on the existing road, which is what DCC were doing.

    If the area is to be protected, as is the law, then does any account have to be taken with respect to the number of cars using the area?

    The number of cars on Irish roads has almost tripled since 1990. Just 30 years & car numbers have almost tripled. That has a massive environmental impact. Where are the EIAs for that level of damaging increase?

    At what point is it the responsibility of the Irish government (a signaturee to the protection of the biosphere) to step in and say, ‘this is too much’. If they allow more and more cars – where are all the EIAs for that?

  3. If this decision remains, then any changes to roads needs planning permission. So does that mean that any segregation including wands or bollards or kerbs would need planning permission? All the segregation works that have gone in around the city; have they all had planning permission? And does the decision also mean that no trials are possible without planning permission?

  4. Strict application of planning permission laws only apply when they favor wealthy people. The poorest get their canal-side tents bulldozed, without notice, even if they are asleep inside them. Interesting that the politician who got elected in the local By-election is one of those who played both sides of the SRCR debate. Tell us something new?

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