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Extending Dublin Bay cycle path onto East Wall Rd could be dangerous for cyclists, some councillors claim

— Route would extend S2S cycle path 680 metres south-east to East Road.
— A number of councillors claim cycle path would be worse for safety and environment.
— Most councillors voice concerns against standard cycle path at bus stop design.
— Two councillors wanted officials to draw up off-road alternatives across unknown lands.

LONG-READ REPORT: Local councillors expressed a mix of concern and support for a quick-build extension of S2S cycle path onto East Wall Road, with a number claiming the cycle path would be worse for safety.

The last cycle route proposed via East Wall was rejected in 2011 by councillors after a campaign of misinformation against it. If built it would have linked the northern section of S2S Dublin Bay cycle path to the Docklands and onto the Grand Canal Route as far as Rathmines.

Most of the route had Part 8 planning approval, but after councillors objected to a bridge over the River Tolka linking the route to the S2S, the Department of Transport cut off funding for the northern section of the project.

Fast forward a decade and the new comments from councillors were made at the last Central Area Committee before Christmas on December 20, 2021. Most, however, agreed to go out to public consultation with the project.

Alec Dundon, senior executive engineer at the Environment and Transportation Department of the council said the proposal would require to take space from one of the two current lanes of traffic from the Eastpoint Business Park entrance on Alfie Byrne Road to just before Aldi on East Wall Road.

This would provide the space for a quick-build extension of the cycle path which is part of the existing northern section of S2S Dublin Bay cycle route. It currently ends on the northern side of the Eastpoint Business Park entrance.

Dundon said that with everything going well the project could be tendered for in Q1 2022 and going to construction in Q2 2022. He said that a route further along East Wall Road is part of a larger project and this would be a kind of interm scheme.

At the local area council meeting, it was said that the is building site due to start construction on the corner of the Alfie Byrne Road and East Wall Road and that this may cause issues because the developer had permission to use the public footpath during construction. But it was agreed that the cycle path project would go to public consultation if council officials did not view the building works as an issue that would affect progress on the cycle route.

What councillors said

Cllr Cat O’Driscoll (Soc Dems) said that it was great to see better connectivity in cycle routes.

She asked if it was an opportunity to improve the footpath along the route which are in disrepair.

Cllr Joe Costello (Labour) said it makes a lot of sense to continue the cycle path onto East Wall Road route and he should continue to St Joseph’s Co-Educational National School.

Cllr Costello said: “I have a concern about where you’re going to end…. the school is where a lot of kids are going to be coming to and from in the morning and afternoon and a lot of them are going to be cycling to it, you don’t seem to have included the school in those proposals and I think it needs to be included. There is no school zone there and it is a dangerous area because of the traffic coming out of the docks.”

Cllr Declan Meenagh (Labour), who has 5% of vision, said that he supports safe cycling but claimed the design planned isn’t safe because of a design feature called a ‘bus stop bypass’, in other words, a segregated cycle path behind a bus stop.

He said: “We know that they are unsafe, it’s been proven in London”.

But this is however denied by Transport For London, which continues to use the design. The design is a basic element of having segregated cycle paths at bus stops. Not only is it used in other countries such as the UK and the Netherlands but the basics of the design has been used in Dublin and other parts of Ireland within no notable issues for years.

Cllr Meenagh added: “Again, the toucan crossings, two [pedistrains and people cycling] cannot cross safely and really what cyclists need to do is dismount and slowly take the bike across the road.”

Cllr Janet Horner (Greens) said: “I might just mention I the island bus stops that a lot of work has been done in the department in how they can be made safe and secure particularly for people with disabilities. As we know it’s not possible for people with disabilities to dismount from a bike very very comfortably in order to be able to walk across. The idea to ask people to dismount is not disability friendly.”

She said the planned cycle path would benefit the people of East Wall.

Dundon said that the council are aware of the issues with bus stops and cycle paths.

“I know that there are proposals being developed at the moment for signalising the crossing for pedestrians crossing the cycle lane — it’s something that has not been formalised yet and it’s not in the Traffic Signs Manual and we cannot actually implement it,” he said.

Dundon said: “What we are doing is putting in the infrastructure which will allow for the signalisation of that crossing point subject to the designs being approved by the Department of Transport. I know it’s something that is being pushed by the BusConnects project to try and get this kind of upgraded design through the Department.”

Cllr Nial Ring (independent) — a serial objector to cycle routes who once tried to have motoring “recognised” in sustainable transport policy — claimed that this “headlong rush to do away with car lanes as detrimental not only to car drivers but to the environment because more cars will be snarled up.”

He also claimed that providing a segregated cycle path on East Wall Road does not make sense in terms of cycling safety.

He made vague claims about a possible alternative off-road route on undefined lands north of East Wall Road, but even after a puzzled response from a council official did not outline what exact land he was referring to.

Cllr Ring added that he supports Cllr Meenagh on bus stop designs.

Cllr Christy Burke (independent) — who is the chairperson of the council’s transport committee and previously objected to reallocation of space from cars to cycling on the quays — said he agreed with Cllr Ring that an off-road route should be looked at.

Both councillors asked that this apparently alternative route across undefined land should be included in the public consultation.

Both councillors also said that people need cars as if somebody suggested otherwise — after watching the recording of the meeting more than once, IrishCycle.com can confirm nobody said otherwise.

Cllr Burke however said that parents of children using the school (pictured below), where there are 3-4 lanes of traffic outside the school, have complained about how unsafe the road was. But he suggested flashing school warning lights was the answer to this, not a reduction in space for motor traffic.

Cllr Janice Boylan (Sinn Féin) said that she agreed with Cllrs Burke and Cllr Ring, and said that as far as she is concerned that the project would lead to more congestion.

Cllr Boylan said: “I’d have serious concerns around the island bus stops, they are not getting good feedback at all and I’m just left wondering why are we even thinking about putting them in if the feedback has been very negative.”

She said the project would make the heavy traffic worse, therefore, making it “less safe for pedestrians and cyclists”, she also said that parents requested flashing lights for the school and she said that would make things safer.

Cllr Cieran Perry (independent) also raised the issue of segregated cycle paths at bus stops. He said: “At any meeting that it is proposed, it’s something that’s consistently raised by the PPN [Public Participation Network] disability activists, and I think it’s something that we really need to address. We need absolute buy-in from the disability activists and sector.”

He said he’s generally supportive of cycling infrastructure.

Cllr Meenagh thanked fellow councillors for their support. He said “there would be very little faith” in “a signalised crossing for just a cycle lane” and added: “I mean is a Guard going to stand there and enforce a bike traffic light can anyone in this committee tell me that a Guard is going to stand there with a checkpoint enforcing it… the disability community does not have faith in this.”

He said he was happy with most of the project and would like to see it going ahead for public consultation.

It’s unclear how the arrangement he is suggested could work with a two-way cycle path and there are already complaints from parents that children interacting with buses does not work on unidirectional cycle paths, such as the route on Griffith Avenue which Dublin City Council claimed was mainly for school children.

Cllr Eimer McCormack (Fianna Fáil) said: “Regard to the bus stop islands, I’ve seen it myself, they really are dangerous for people. And everybody all of our society should be at this table, disabled people from all spectrums should be around the table talking about this.”

Cllr Ray McAdam (Fine Gael) said: “I’m slightly torn on this because I do feel that there is a desperate need for improved cycling, a protected cycle lane along East Wall Road. However, I’m concerned that the interactions with the junctions with Church Road and East Road may actually have the law of unintended consequences and make things more dangerous than they are at present.”

He however said that that he’s equally concerned that the project is ending at East Road and that measures were needed on East Road to make it safer. He said that the project should link in with the traffic calming project planned for the East Wall area.

Cllr McAdam added that he would support the project proceeding to public consultation to get feedback from locals and others.

Dundon said East Road would be looked at if the East Wall Road project went ahead. He said that the island bus stop is not a core part of the project, it was being provided with a planned BusConnects orbital bus route in mind.

Dundon said that the public consultation could run until the end of this month and that a report on it could then be brought back to councillors. It is likely this is delayed.

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