Deansgrange cycle route will be a compromise, but better than elsewhere in Ireland, says council

— Project will take at least 6-8 months in the Part 8 planning process.
— 6 parking spaces and footpath space to be lost on Dean’s Grange Road.
— Councillors getting emails objecting to the graveyard route.

A planned graveyard detour of the Deansgrange route cycle route — which was first reported by last week — will include narrowing footpaths and a reduction in car parking spaces.

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Robert Burns. Director of Infrastructure and Climate Change at Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council said that the plan to detour the cycle route will require a reduction in footpath widths, but will allow two-way car access on the road.

He said that the council are aware of the sensitivities of routing the route via the graveyard.

“What we hoped for is a relatively quick build route to have it ready starting for the 2021 school year… the key difference is that we’re not doing something that quick,” said Burns told councillors at their monthly meeting.

He said that the previous option of making the road one-way for motorists to make space for a cycle path without a detour was “causing a significant challenge for a lot of stakeholders in the area, it was seen as something that was becoming a challenge”.

Burns said that the draft drawings provided give an outline of the project and further details would follow.

Burns said the new plan “is a compromise”, but said, “We have got to think objectively about this, I’m not aware of another village or town in Dublin or in Ireland that would have a connected and reasonably direct two-way cycle route going through its village or town.”

Cllr Séafra Ó Faoláin (Green Party) said to his fellow councillors that there will be people who will ask them to vote against it but that, for the children who would be using it, councillors needed to show leadership.

A short time later after listening to fellow councillors, Cllr Ó Faoláin said on Twitter that it was “Stunning to hear some councillors who opposed one-way system now not committing to vote for the upcoming Part 8.”

Cllr Shay Brennan (Fianna Fail) said: “When I first saw of this new compromise, I actually thought it was satire — ‘children’s bike path diverted through local graveyard to preserve local traffic’, that does not sound good on paper. But I am going to give it a very guarded welcome because at least something will be done.”

He said it was a pity that councillors let the delay happen and that there would be further delay. He said that we are facing gridlock, an existential climate crisis, and daily unsafe conditions for walking and cycling.

Cllr Brennan added: “The compromises are being made by the pedestrians with narrower footpaths, by the cyclists that have to undergo the diversion and graveyard users, they are not being made really — with the exception of the loss of 6 car parking spaces — by local businesses or motorists… if we’re not careful we’re in real danger of ending up with an unusable [cycle] network of compromises.”

Cllr Michael Clark (Fianna Fáil) said: “I fully appreciate that this has been a very contentious issue over the last few months. Over my two and a half years as a councillor, no issues has generated as many emails, phone calls and social media pile-ons as this one.”

He said that at all times, along with other councillors, he looked to retain two-way traffic on the road, “while seeking to improve cycling”.

Cllr Clark added: “Given that two-way traffic has been retained, I do see this new plan as a step in the right direction. While acknowledging — as we [councillors] have seen our inboxes in the last few hours a whole new set of controversies has been created.”

He said he will be keeping an open mind on supporting it.

Cllr Carrie Smyth (Labour) said: “If we’re going down the Deansgrange Cemetery route, it has to be 24/7, because we cannot restrict it… it needs to be open and available for anybody who wants to use it.”

Cllr Dave Quinn (Social Democrats) said: “I have to express a very reluctance acceptance of this option… I’m hugely disappointed not from any interest other than the fact that it’s the science that we need to take the most cognisance. Have we forgotten what was reported and visible on our screens for COP?… Climate change isn’t something we can compromise with.”

He said the current plan is unlikely to get motorists out of their cars and reduce emissions.
He added: “We’re not showing leadership, compromise has greatly damaged the vision which was presented to us.”

Cllr Melisa Halpin (People Before Profit) said it was not about compromise but “taking account of what people want”. She claimed that public consultation had fallen by the wayside with the project before this despite a very large number of submissions on the projects.

IMAGE: A poster against making the road one-way.

She added: “I think going through the Cemetery is a great idea”. She said that it was not just about motorists vs cyclists and that buses would now not have to detour.

Cllr Deirdre Donnelly (Independent) said that she does not think she has had as many emails on any issue in her seven years as a councillor.

Cllr Donnelly said that she would have huge concerns about the safety of using the graveyard at night.

Cllr Jim Gildea (Fine Gael) — an ex-oil executive — said he was “horrified” at the original plan to make the road one-way. He said that since then he has suggested alternatives including the one being proposed to some degree.

He said: “I am giving this a guarded welcome… I have reservations about the lack of a right-turn lane into Kill Ave, which may well cause a bottleneck on the whole road. But as I said earlier we need to compromise.”

Cllr Maeve O’Connell (Fine Gael) claimed there was not enough transparency without giving any examples or details of such.

Cllr O’Connell — who has previously objected to safety measures of narrowing wide entrances to housing estates complained that “all of these interventions at the start of Covid these were Covid interventions”. But this is simply not true of the Deansgrenage Cycle Route which was branded as a route to schools project from the start.

Cllr O’Connell said: “We’re also not clear what is the purpose of each project is. It seems to change from one project to another — is this about climate mitigation, is this about encouraging more walking and cycling, is this about encouraging less car use… it seems to move depending on what each project is. I think that causes a level of frustration.”

Cllr Justin Moylan (Fianna Fáil) said that the issue has become very divisive and said that there would need to be sensitivity going via the graveyard.

Cllr Denis O’Callaghan (Labour) said the graveyard should be seen as an attraction.

Cllr Tom Kivlehan (Green Party) said that he’s sad to see that the project is not going to include the one-way system.

He said: “We set out to try to recover Deansgrange from being a massive crossroads which it is at the moment and trying to reduce the traffic coming through that village to give it that semblance of civic space. But it seems that we are going to lose that in favour of cars.”

Cllr Mary Hanafin (Fianna Fáil) said she was looking forward to working to resolve any sensitivities that may arise.

Cllr Jim O’Leary (Fine Gael) claimed that it is not a compromise but a better solution.

Cllr Marie Baker (Fine Gael) said that the extra engagement has allowed people who didn’t feel like they had their say to have it.

Cllr Baker said: “I’m going to quote a figure which was often quoted by the people of the area — 86% of them who were against the original one-way traffic proposals.” On this claim, council officials have previously pointed out that only 499 or 8% of the overall submissions objected to the Deansgrange section and locals who agreed with the proposals were counted among 63% (3,987) of members of the public who support the overall project including the Deansgrange section.

The Part 8 process is now expected to start and officials will report back to councillors next year on its progress.


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