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.”
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”
I have cycled in this area for the better part of 40+ years, so I sat in on the web event hosted by DLRDCoCo. In all that time DLRDCoCo have done little to make cycling safe for anyone, much less vulnerable cyclists. Abbey road is a wide road that leads from the Sallynoggin area to Rockford Girls school and is more suitable for a cycle lane. In addition the entire length of Rochestown Avenue has been resurfaced and repaired and no provision was put in place to facilitate cycling. Fortunately the junction at Bakers Corner was revised and the dangerous pinch point heading South bound was removed – eventually. The Roundabout at the end of Abbey Road nearest the School is dangerous for cyclists. I have had several near misses particularly at the exit leading to Deansgrange as the pinch point means cars turning down this road are prone to cutting across cyclists trying to continue in the direction of the school. I have written to the Council but to no avail. The DLRDCoCo council plan that will close the route North bound on the Deansgrange Road will greatly increase the traffic on Abbey road thereby increasing the hazard for anyone cycling. Also, why do DLRDCoCo persist with painting sections of the road as islands? All this does, is force vehicles closer to anyone cycling, as they have done on Stradbrook Road. A cycle lane would have been preferable. In close proximity to Rockford School is CBC Monkstown. Again, no provision of safe cycling infrastructure seems to be planned here either. The cycling plans seem to have been formulated without much reference to the needs of cyclists, particularly young cyclists. What should happen is planning the routes with schools as the centre and not the meandering, fanciful routes that provide cycle routes but without much consideration of those that may have to use them. Labelling these cycle lanes as Safe Routes for Schools is erroneous. They smack more of Trophy projects which wastes resources and the good will of locals rather than infrastructure that actually works.