Dublin City Council sets up walking and cycling office

— Not enough staff was seen as a huge barrier to progressing projects.

Dublin City Council is setting up a dedicated walking and cycling division, which would complement work by the traffic and roads divisions of the council, the council’s Traffic and Transport Committee were told this month.

The new staff are funded by the national Government and are part of a process happening at different councils to put in place staff to support the rollout of cycling infrastructure national.

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Brendan O’Brien, the council’s executive manager for transport, said that the new unit should be staffed by 22 people by now and that is to grow further once extra new staff are employed, the process of which is on-going.

14 of the 22 staff will be people transferred over from the transport department of the council. Separately, 10 staff in the transport division would continue to work on other active travel projects and staff in the road section would work on projects with walking and cycling elements too.

Speaking at the council’s Traffic and Transport Committee on February 9, O’Brien said that the team would be headed up by Andy Walsh an executive manager for engineering at the council, who has equal seniority to himself. He said that Walsh’s team would be handling major walking and cycling routes including the Clontarf route, the Royal Canal Greenway and the permanent Liffey Cycle Route.

O’Brien added that active travel would be partly handled by three sub-sections of the council, including the new active travel division, the transport division which he heads, and the roads division headed by Dermot Collins executive manager for roads.

School zones, safe routes to schools, rapid build routes, traffic-free streets, and communications would still be handled by the traffic section. The roads division will be looking at some of the wider projects such as the Dodder public transport bridge and the Point roundabout replacement project.

The 5-Year Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Delivery plan is seeking to plan and build up to 140km of cycling and walking infrastructure. The council said that this is made up of 55km from 27 existing projects and 85km from 31 new corridors.

O’Brien said that projects are at too early of a stage to answer detailed questions. Routes, he said, would be a mix of cycle paths and quiet street treatments.

“The projects that are listed are the projects that are kicking off or are funded in 2022. As we go through this process, there will be more projects that start to come into it,” he said.

The projects listed so-far can be found in a separate article.

He said that Andy Walsh would also be updating councils as progress is made on different projects and quarterly reports would be issued to local area committees of councillors.

“We want to get to that point of having a network rather than coming to you [councillors] with what seems like a small section of cycle track in a particular area. We want to have it now that it’s part of a network and what we’re designing and building is this network, it’s not individual sections anymore… what a city needs to become a cyclable city,” he said.

The proposed network of cycle routes is made up of around 22km of what the council calls “existing high-quality network”, 160km to be delivered under the Active Travel Programme and 88km to be delivered under Busconnects.

Major projects to be implemented under both Section 38, Road Traffic Act, 1994 and either Part
8 or Part 10 of Planning and Development Regulations, a report to the committee said. But it said that the “majority of the network will be delivered under Section 38 of the Road Traffic Act, 1994” while “A key element of the delivery process will be ensuring that Elected Representatives and the public are fully engaged and informed on the plans and progress in the implementation of the
network.”

Cllr Keith Connolly (Fianna Fáil) said that consultation was key and that local area councillors sometimes don’t even get to see plans. He welcomed the route planned from Finglas to Killester which he said would help connect to schools.

Colm Ryder, a committee member representing the Dublin Cycling Campaign, said: “I’m delighted to see the logical approach that being proposed — I think it is a great way to go in using section 38” [of the Road Traffic Acts, to progress projects].

He asked why there’s a difference between the council’s core network and the NTA’s Greater Dublin Area Network.

O’Brien said: “Our suggestion to the NTA is that it’s not primary or secondary routes anymore, it’s actually connected routes that’s important.”

Cllr Janet Horner (Green Party) said: “I’m obviously delighted to see a lot of work going into cycling policy and I would love to see a similar programme for walking, to see how we can do walkability better.”

She also could there also be clarity around what projects would be finished by the end of the year.

Gary Kearney, a disability advocate — who objects to most cycling projects, has spoken against the removal of obstructive barriers on shared paths, and also spoke supportively of illegal car parking — claimed without any detail that none of the projects proposed are vulnerably pedestrian-friendly.

Responding to a presentation on mainly cycling, Kearney said: “He mentioned cyclable, cycling lanes, cycling and cycling. Nowhere was there anything with limited mobility.”

Kearney has repeated been reminded that there are people with disabilities who cycle in Dublin, but again implied at cycling didn’t help people with disabilities. He claimed people were being excluded and said “what I am supposed to do except get a bit frustrated”.

O’Brien said that the main report presented to the committee was covering the cycling network, so, that was more of the focus of the presentation. He said he had also outlined how the council was installing an unprecedented number of new pedestrian crossings and all of those would be accessible.

(Video is audio-only — unrelated slide shown as a static image throughout)

MORE: Raft of new projects listed in Dublin City Council’s 5-Year Walking and Cycling plan


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