A key section of Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council’s Active Schools Travel plan on the Deansgrange Road has been deferred until at least January 2022 after strong opposition to disrupting car traffic.
Local Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael councillors put forward a notice to force council officials to abandon a plan for a two-way cycle path on Deansgrange Road. The space for the cycle path was planned to come from making the road one-way. A vote was to happen at a council meeting on Monday, but it is understood to be put off.
The motion from councillors was proposed by Cllr Marie Baker (FG) and Cllr Mary Hanafin (FF). It was seconded by Cllr Maurice Dockrell (FG), Cllr Michael Clark (FF), Cllr Jim Gildea (FG), and Cllr Mary Fayne (FG).
As IrishCycle.com reported previously Fianna Fáil TD Cormac Devlin and Fine Gael Senator Barry Ward are among some of the most high-profile politicians objecting to the route as proposed by officials.
There are local campaigns both for against the planned six-month trial making around 900 metres of Deansgrange Road one-way to provide a two-way cycle route.
The cycle path would form part of two of the three planned routes making a quick-build network of routes, which also made use of existing infrastructure. The three routes to schools were announced in September 2020.
Public consultation found that 63% (3,987) of the 6,431 overall submissions supported the project, while 499 submissions or around 8% of submissions objected to the Deansgrange section.
Council officials and campaigners for the route said that suggested alternative routes would be indirect and involve a number of complicated junctions.
Tom McHugh, Acting Chief Executive at Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, wrote to councillors this afternoon outlining the deferral.
McHugh wrote: “Following the large number of submissions received recently on the Deansgrange element of the Active Schools Travel project, and following discussions with Councillors, it is now proposed to commence a further process of engagement with all stakeholders. All options will be considered before proceeding with the Deansgrange related elements, which form part of two of the proposed Active School Travel routes.”
He added: “All works proposed in relation to the Deansgrange element of the works will be deferred until the engagement process is completed, with a report to issue to the elected members at that time. The report will be completed by January 2022.”
He said in the meantime, it is proposed to withdraw the notice from councils in its current form.
The notice from the group of councillors read: “Pursuant to Section 140 of the Local Government Act 2001, as amended, this Council directs the Chief Executive Officer to provide safe, segregated cycling in the Deansgrange area, while maintaining two-way vehicular traffic on Deansgrange Road.”
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Cllr Shay Brennan (Fianna Fáil) said: “Further consultation is a cop-out. We can have much more info in 6 months if we began the live trial now! We must get more serious about this, we need a solid, safe and direct cycling network. The alternative is an unusable network of local compromises and further car-clogged roads.”
Cllr Séafra Ó Faoláin (Green) said in a statement issued this afternoon: “I am extremely disappointed to hear the Executive has decided to delay this trial. This has already been through one of the largest consultation exercises in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council’s history, with the majority of the thousands of respondents in favour of the cycleway.”
“A Council report on alternatives to this route found that every alternative route offered worse outcomes in regard to “Local Economics, Safety, Environmental benefits, Accessibility and Social Inclusions and Physical Activity,” he said.
Cllr Ó Faoláin said: “This does present a real opportunity for locals who may not have engaged in the previous process to make their voices clearly heard. We have been inundated with support from parents, many of whom who were planning to allow their children to cycle to school but will now have to drive them, making a chaotic traffic situation even worse.”
He added: “Ultimately, the group that will suffer the most from this is children. They have no vote, but their trips to and from school will remain dangerous, and their future will become more dangerous. With every delay we push tougher and more extreme climate action measures onto their generation. This is not fair”