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Dublin by handcycle: Blocked by barriers on greenways, hemmed in by narrow protected cycle lanes and getting stuck in tram tracks

— “We don’t put barriers for the whole community in place because of speeding teenagers or people dealing in cars, do we?” he said on barriers on walking and cycling routes.

Despite barriers on greenways that blocked him, new protected cycle lanes that he found too narrow for comfort and his front wheel getting stuck in tram tracks, Ellis Palmer Babe, a Liverpool-based journalist who uses a handcycle to get around, is upbeat about a visit to Dublin.

As well as sampling the joys and barriers on the River Dodder Greenway, Palmer took in the DLR Coastal Mobility Route which he says can be improved on, and he took part in the monthly iBikeBop critical mass.

In an interview with IrishCycle.com, Palmer said: “In general, I find cycling in Dublin to be quite enjoyable and accessible, despite falling into the Luas tracks several times in the city centre and encountering narrow segregated cycle tracks which were difficult to pass on my handcycle.”

He said that his front wheel fell into the Luas tracks and his back wheels were fine, but passers-by had to help him out of the track grove. He didn’t fall over and was not injured but being stuck there was worse he said.

Yesterday, he tweeted out a video of him trying to get around a kissing gate while cycling with cycling campaigners along the Dodder Greenway in Dublin — it has been retweeted over 500 times so far. Even after detaching the front wheel of his cycle, he was unable to independently pass through the barrier.

As reported recently, Irish authorities directed to stop using restrictive barriers on walking and cycling routes. But there’s still a long way to go and some communities fear scrambler use increasing, despite little evidence the scrambles were fully blocked by the barriers.

“Bollards, when they are appropriately spaced, allow everybody to get through safely, quickly and easily, said Palmer yesterday after his visit to Dublin. “But also there are solutions like CCTV cameras maybe that could be used to clamp down on antisocial behaviour more effectively. “

He route along the Dodder Greenway was blocked by restrictive ‘kissing gate’ barriers — but he said “chicane gates are awful” too, and bollards is what councils need to focus on.

Palmer said: “After getting stuck on Saturday I basically noted that any young wan using a scrambler, say, would just be able to carry it over the wall, which was lower down than the kissing gate, so it doesn’t really stop those who are intent on antisocial behaviour from being antisocial. It just stops people with different mobility impairments from being able to use the infrastructure as inclusively as they could and should.”


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“If adequate youth services, we wouldn’t have such antisocial behaviour. We don’t put barriers for the whole community in place because of speeding teenagers or people dealing in cars, do we?” he asked.

Maybe unexpectedly, Palmer liked cycling in bus lanes because of their width. He said: “What I really enjoyed about Dublin was the great amount of bus lanes in the centre of the city allowing me to cycle unencumbered on my non-standard cycle and also faster standard cyclists to pass safely and quickly.”

The narrow width of some of the Covid protected cycle lanes is a general complaint IrishCycle.com has heard over and over. But, while it often seems like it’s the faster cyclists who complain, there the issue of how it might put slower cyclists under pressure too.

Palmer said: “Narrow widths can make it difficult to use them safely and/or you find yourself being extremely self-conscious if you are holding other cycle users up in a segregated route… That embarrassment might just be internalised ableism.”

He said that painted cycle lanes often feel better for him so he’s not left “fearing veering into the curb or hitting a light segregation”.

While the DLR Coastal Mobility Route is seen as a high standard of cycle route in Dublin terms, Palmer highlighted that it’s “too narrow in parts as a handcycler”. He also said that there’s an accessibility issue with shops in Blackrock, he said: “Many of the shops were inaccessible to a wheelchair user travelling independently.”

He said “width and surface quality and consistency” were key in getting segregation right.

He added: “It’s not necessarily about ripping out your infrastructure and rebuilding it from scratch, but thinking about how different groups of people from different perspectives might find your infrastructure and addressing any blackholes you might have. Consult disabled people, Independent Living Movement Ireland have a great list of activists around the country.”

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Cian Ginty
Editor, IrishCycle.com

3 comments

  1. A great article Cian and highlights what we have said for a long time that cycle tracks are not fit for purpose in Dublin that they exclude a community of cyclists from using them such as accessible bikes trikes and even as we have heard some cargo bikes. Maybe we might eventually get proper wide segregated tracks and articles like this one show why they are needed

    Reply
  2. Very good article. Agree, the narrow protected cycle lanes are a bit a joke at this stage. If the council are serious about increasing active travel then they need to be serious about installing decent sized cycle ways.

    Reply

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