A Dublin councillor has claimed that supporting a group which states that a cycle path will “destroy” Ballsbridge village does not amount to him objecting to the cycle route.
When speaking on Newstalk this morning, Cllr Dermot Lacey (Labour) took issue an Irish Times article covering how he, along with Cllr James Geoghegan and Cllr Paddy McCartan (both Fine Gael), put forward an emergency motion to write to the NTA “in support of the Ballsbridge traders’ concerns” against the BusConnects plans.
According to The Irish Times, the three councillors were supporting a group of businesses between 2 to 18 Merrion Road in Ballsbridge. The businesses wrote to the council two months ago seeking that the councillors “pass a priority motion to request BusConnects to cease work on this plan” and re-focus the plan “for the benefit of all citizens and not just a vociferous cycle lobby”.
The newspaper said that Hugh Creegan said rejected the idea that the plan would destroy Ballsbridge. He said that the plan would amount to a net loss of just one parking space.
But the businesses, which the councillors supported, said that the project amounted to the “imposition of unworkable cycle lanes to the detriment of drivers” and that this is “ageist”.
At least some of the businesses involved have an apparent connection to a city-wide anti-cycling group. As IrishCycle.com previously reported, Ballsbridge Living was listed as a member of the ‘Cycle Lane Action Group’, which Cllr Mannix Flynn is listed as a spokesperson for.
When contacted earlier this year, Ballsbridge Living pointing this website to the private email address of Patrick Byrne. Byrne, a Ballsbridge-based pharmacist, used his business name Paddy Byrne Life Pharmacy to donated €400 to the group opposing the Strand Road cycle route.
Emails sent to Ballsbridge Living and CCed to Byrne on for that article asked if Byrne was a spokesperson for Ballsbridge Living on this issue, who Ballsbridge Living represents, and if it is a member of the Cycle Lane Action Group, which is objecting to cycle routes. No reply has been forthcoming.
Today, just a few days after the UN Secretary-General called the lastest IPCC report a “Code Red for Humanity”, Cllr Dermot Lacey (Labour) that the concerns of the businesses are “legitimate concerns”. The IPCC has stressed the urgent need to decarbonise all sectors of society and transport is the second-worst sector in Ireland for carbon emissions.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: “The viability of our societies depends on leaders from government, business and civil society uniting behind policies, actions and investments that will limit temperature rise to 1.5°C. We owe this to the entire human family, especially the poorest and most vulnerable communities and nations that are the hardest hit despite being least responsible for today’s climate emergency.”
But Cllr Lacey told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show that it is his job to “challenge everything” and that he “wants to see better cycling infrastructure”.
Cllr Lacey, Cllr McCartan and Cllr Geoghegan supported objectors who were against Dublin City Councill’s Strand Road cycle route trial and Cllr Lacey twice and Cllr McCartan once voted against holding public consultation for the South Dublin Quietway.
When discussing the story today about BusConnects on Merrion Rd in Ballsbridge. The below images shows the plan for the section near the businesses. Main change: Continuous bus lanes. Much of the cycle tracks look narrow.@BusConnects might confirm if there's updated designs? pic.twitter.com/0ZRxte87D6
— IrishCycle.com (@IrishCycle) August 13, 2021
“I have long ago given up on receiving fair coverage from you but we have not objected to the cycleway through Ballsbridge, said Cllr Dermot Lacey in an email to IrishCycle.com. “We agreed to bring the concerns of the residents to the attention of the NTA and seek a response.”
Cllr Lacey said: “There were a number of concerns – my own particular ones was the one about a parking facility outside the cycle lane – as a cyclist I simply don’t like them – though the addition of the buffer zone along Fitzwilliam Street has eased that for me somewhat and the second was my preference for the cycle route to go along the north side of the Dodder rather than along Anglesea Road at the Ballsbridge end.”
He added: “The NTA had not bothered to send us Councillors the letter they had sent out locally so we were in the dark about the details – accordingly we agreed to write to the NTA seeking a meeting – that seems fair enough to me and the NTA accept in their letter that the businesses have genuine concerns and have agreed to meet. As I have said so often Dialogue works.”
Kieran Ryan of the Dublin Cycling Campaign said on Newstalk that the street is 6-7 lanes wide at the point under contention.
Despite Google Maps showing mostly 5-6 lanes at this point of the street, Presenter Pat Kenny was confused about how wide the road is and claimed that buses and cars would have to share.
Ryan said: “It’s part of the overall BusConnects plan to improve bus transport and we rapidly needed to improve public transport. We need to provide more space for walking and cycling. We need to reallocate space away from private cars and we know we have to do this in relation to the climate crisis that we are facing at the moment, we’ve had reports from the IPCC this week and the Environmental Protection Agency in Ireland.”
Dublin Commuter Coalition, a sustainable transport campaign group, said: “What stage of the climate crisis are we at when councillors are making backhanded comments about sustainable transport volunteers, leaping to defend parking from being moved around the corner all the while saying, ‘I’m a cyclist meself’… Is anyone else exhausted?”
Cllr McCartan and Cllr Geoghegan did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.