— Access points should include “universal access” and “free-flow of cycling”.
Ireland’s two main transport authorities have written to councils directing the removal of barriers on walking and cycle routes, including greenways.
As we reported at the start of the year, the Department of Transport wrote to the National Transport Authority and Transport Infrastructure Ireland. The letter outlined how the provision of access point controls “must be provided in a manner which ensures universal access (including for people with disabilities) and the free-flow of cycling” and “Where an access control point does not meet these requirements, it is considered noncompliant.”
National Transport Authority, which mainly looks after urban projects, and Transport Infrastructure Ireland, which has oversight of greenways as well as other inter-urban routes, wrote to councils.
Up till now, guidance on greenways favoured putting in barriers before there was any proven or foreseeable need. Restrictive chicane gates have been installed at nearly every single access point along many greenways in recent years when such gates are very unusual in other countries.
The even more restrive ‘kissing gate’ barriers have also been used widely by local authorities and Waterways Ireland. These were recommended against in guidance but still installed by councils and others.
Councils were told that all existing, under construction, planned, and future infrastructure for active travel should not include non-compliant access control points. The two letters to councils were sent in February and can be read in full below.
Councils were also asked to gather a list of existing non-compliant access points.
The NTA provided its letter to councils to IrishCycle.com, while TII released its letter after a Freedom of Information request.
TII confirmed it also had a copy of the ‘Draft Department of Transport Active Travel Advice Note: Access Controls at Pedestrian and Cyclist Facilities (June 2022)’. This document relates to the details of what will or will not be acceptable control methods at access points.
TII said that the document “remains subject to the deliberative process” and so its release has been refused. The decision-maker for the request said: “I can advise in relation to Record No. 2 that the Department of Transport is currently finalising this Advice Note and plan to publish this Advice Note during the summer months.”