Universal Access is the aim for greenways, according to transport Minister Eamon Ryan in reply to a parliamentary question, but the reply falls short of a promise to ban restrictive barriers on walking and cycling routes.
Even chicane gates (pictured above and below) can block or hinder larger cycles, including recumbents, cargo bicycles, trikes and trailers.
Councils and other public authorities in Ireland have a long history of blocking legitimate users to try to stop anti-social behaviour and illegal activity. As this website has reported on before, the illegal activity is rarely stopped while people with disabilities and users of different sized cycles are blocked or hindered from using greenways and other cycle routes.
Restrictive barriers are already viewed as illegal under disability access requirements, but these are seen as hard to enforce in Ireland and successive ministers for transport have failed to show leadership on the issue when greenway guidance is in their remit. UK guidelines called LTN 1/2020 Cycle Infrastructure Design is seen as efficiently banning such barriers.
In his parliamentary question as found on Kildarestreet.com, Kildare North TD Bernard Durkan (Fine Gael) asked what “efforts are currently being made to approve and install only gates that allow universal access to persons with disabilities and users of non-standard bikes by specifying access for bicycle vehicles in accordance with the UK LTN 1/2020 Cycle Infrastructure Design along popular greenways and prominent cycle routes throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter.”
Minister Eamon Ryan (Green Party) said: “As Minister for Transport, I have overall responsibility for setting Guidelines for the Construction and Maintenance of Road infrastructure, including for Greenways and Active Travel. Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) have certain powers for National Roads and the National Transport Authority (NTA) have certain powers for the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) in relation to traffic and public transport.”
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“As part of the increased rollout of such infrastructure I have convened a group to oversee and co-ordinate overall guidelines and standards. This includes work under way by my Department in relation to the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets (DMURS) and the Traffic Signs Manual, by the NTA in relation to the National Cycle Manual and the TII in respect of Greenways. It should be noted that a review of the National Cycle Manual is being undertaken by the NTA and that the revised document will incorporate/reference all relevant cycle design standards for both urban and rural areas. This group will engage with stakeholders as part of it work,” he said.
He added: “A specific element of the work of the oversight group is a request, by me, to examine the issue of access controls on Greenways and other Cycle Infrastructure. I will pass on the suggestion to consider the UK guidelines in this regard to the group. It is my aim to provide Universal Access to Greenways and thus to ensure that people on wheelchairs, people on all types of bicycles as well as people with buggies can access the great outdoor amenity that Greenways provide.”