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Irish authorities directed to stop using restrictive barriers on walking and cycling routes

— Universal access and free-flow of cycling needs to be included at access points.

Access points must comply with universal access and the free-flow of cycling, a direction from Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan’s department to transport authorities has said.

The ministerial direction mentions kissing gates by name, but could be seen as extending to measures such as chicane gates (pictured above) which impedes the flow of cycling on busy routes.

The Department of Transport has directed the National Transport Authority and Transport Infrastructure Ireland that access points that do not comply with universal access and the free-flow of cycling should be viewed as non-compliant.

Wheels for Wellbeing, a UK charity that works to enable access to cycling for people with disabilities, has published A Guide to Inclusive Cycling infrastructure. It outlines how the many types of barriers which have been tried in the UK pose issues for people, and how bollards are the preferred access solution, with a minimum distance between two bollards or kerbs “should be no less than 1.5m.”

The ministerial direction to the transport authorities outlines how all existing and future should not include access control points, and that projects that include such should not be funded, including those under construction.

Brian Leddin, a Green Party TD for Limerick, said: “We have to develop networks that are safe and segregated but also that don’t provide obstacles to people who want to cycle

He said: “The removal of these impediments to cycling will make choosing to cycle much more appealing to a lot of people. There are categories of cyclists that are completely blocked because of these types of barriers, including cargo bikes, larger bikes, bikes with trailers, electric bicycles and various kinds of other mobility aids, trikes and adapted cycles.”

He said this is especially the case for users of adapted cycles who don’t have the choice of dismounting or cannot or find it difficult to manoeuvre their bicycles or trikes around gates.

Deputy Leddin said: “This this is a strong direction to the NTA and TII, it means that no new obstacles will go in but it also means that existing obstacles should be removed as well — which is very significant when trying to roll out networks which are usable to the widest number of people.”

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“Often local authorities react somewhat impulsively to challenges they might have in areas that create other problems. These kind of blockages are often put in, well-meaning but not thought through. And some local authorities are more zealous about them than others… Now it’s important that there’s a clear direction to local authorities via the NTA that the free-flow of cycling has to be paramount when making these decisions,” he said.

Asked if he was aware of such barriers blocking constituents, he said he’s had complaints and it’s something that’s raised frequently with local representatives.

Leddin said: “Not far from where I live, I’m aware of a very significant one in Moyross in Limerick. I’ve seen children and elderly people trying to get bikes through and it’s really difficult. It’s a barrier to mobility between two adjacent parts of the city.”

He said scramblers are an issue and the Government is legislating so that Gardai can seize scramblers when off the road in parks and other such areas. He added: “When trying to solve the issues of scramblers we cannot be creating more problems for more people. Especially when we’re trying to attract and encourage people to cycling.”

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