“Alternative” Sandymount cycle route is dangerous and would take years, says campaigners

— Latest “alternative” from objectors includes narrowing footpaths and mixing cycling with motorists.

Campaigners today said that a new “alternative” design issued yesterday by opponents of Dublin City Council’s proposed trial of a two-way cycle path on Strand Road is “dangerous”, and would take years to get planning for and to construct.

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STC — which stands for Serpentine Avenue, Tritonville Road, Claremont — is a residents group that was set up to object to the cycle route trial which was originally set to take place for six months starting in 2020.

STC, in the High Court, used environmental protection law to block a cycle path planned on an existing roadway largely because of its claimed potential effect on Dublin Bay. Now the group has issued a new “alternative” plan which downplays the impact of building combined flood defences and promenade in Dublin Bay.

The group brought the council to court over its plan which would have made Strand Road one-way to make space for a two-way cycle path. The High Court ruled in favour of the group, but Dublin City Council has said it will appeal the judgment.

The latest “alternative” proposes are at least the fourth version of different suggestions STC has made to avoid disrupting cars on Strand Road.

The new proposal is highly glossy looking compared to the previous suggestions from the STC group, but still includes major design issues where people cycling are mixed with motorists and footpaths space is again sacrificed rather than affecting motorists.

STC yesterday again claimed it is “pro-cycling”, but the Dublin Cycling Campaign today said: “The STC group is not pro-cycling, no matter how often they repeat that mantra. They are pro-status quo. Pro-car dominance. Pro-climate denial.”

Dublin Cycling Campaign said: “This new plan doesn’t resolve many issues, including at the Merrion Gates, where it is proposed to create a ‘bicycle/vehicle shared lane’, ie no safe cycling infrastructure. Cycling infrastructure must support and enable people of all ages and abilities.”

The Dublin Commuter Coalition, a sustainable transport advocacy group, said: “This ‘new plan’ is just the NTA plan from 2016 that was shelved in 2018 due to widespread local opposition. Except it’s not even segregated for all of Strand Road. It’s just dangerous.”

“Nobody is going to let their children cycle on this,” the group said pointing to this image of a pinch point along the route where the cycle route would be mixed with motor vehicles:

IMAGE: Graphic from STC report showing pinch point with narrowed footpath, sub-standard cycle track, and lane shared between cycling and motoring.

The commuting and active transport campaign group said: “People have been trying to build better versions of this plan for over 20 years. This isn’t new. There’s no guarantee that it will get planning permission because it involves building a boardwalk onto Dublin Bay for a section which is an EU Special Area of Conservation.”

The Dublin Commuter Coalition added: “Their timeline shows four months for design and four months to get planning permission. That’s just impossible. It will take years… Even if it does get planning permission, it would be over six years (at least) by the time it’s finished. And it would cost twenty times more than Dublin City Council’s trial cycleway.”

In a press release, Audrey Hanley, a spokesperson for STC said: “We wish to re-iterate that our group is very much Pro-Cycling; the vast majority of local residents are committed active cyclists, fully supportive of an off road cycle track of the type envisaged by the original S2S (Sutton to Sandycove) cycleway proposal which has been in existence for many years.”

She claimed: “Our collective opposition to the proposed-on road proposal advanced by Dublin City Council is based on the negative effects of the huge volume of displaced traffic, and consequent pollution, on Sandymount and adjoining areas arising from the closure of the northbound lane of Strand Road. The small, narrow residential roads of Sandymount, Ringsend and Irishtown were not designed to accomodate this much traffic and such closure would have a significant adverse effect on the surrounding areas.

Dublin City Council has claimed that the project would result in traffic reduction and that it would monitor traffic levels on other roads and streets in Sandymount. STC walked out of a community forum meeting in which the council detailed possible traffic reduction measures around Sandymount Village and it has never suggested its own publicly.

Hanley added: “We have designed this proposal to try and work with the National Transport Authority and Dublin City Council to resolve these issues together. This is not a definitive proposal and we would welcome their engagement and expertise to modify the proposal as they see fit in order to reach a satisfactory outcome for all. We hope that DCC and the NTA will engage with us constructively and employ their resources to finalise this ‘Way Forward’.”

On page 20 of the STC’s proposals, Jim Dowdall, a Director at Enviroguide Consulting, is quoted as stating: “It is my view that the proposed project can be implemented without having any significant impact on any European Sites and therefore provides a viable long-term alternative to the current DCC proposal.”

In 2011, Connor O’Reilly, a director at the National Parks & Wildlife Service, said the habitat loss around Dublin Bay due to the S2S project which focused on using flood defences and promenade designs could be “quite significant”.

IMAGE: Graphic from STC report showing new flood defence wall in Dublin Bay.

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