— Cross-party support for unsubstantiated claims from residents objecting to cycle route.
Councillors in Dublin City claimed last week that car-using residents on Sean Moore Road “cannot get out of their houses” and are “hostages in their own homes” without any evidence to back such a claim — when IrishCycle.com visited the road this week residents were driving in an out of the housing estate freely with little or no delay.
The complaints come after the redesign of the junction of Sean Moore Road and Beach Road — this has been redesigned to include the removal of a slip turn and installation of a pedestrian crossing for the first time across the eastbound end of Sean Moore Road.
Construction work was on-going when councillors made their comments. While it is well-known that road works cause extra traffic congestion and that it takes time for motorists to adjust to new layouts, councillors seem to choose to ignore this and make unsubstantiated claims about residents being trapped in their own homes — a common trope against active travel routes.
The issue was raised by Cllr Daniel Céitinn (Sinn Féin) at South East Area Committee Meeting on July 11. He said that he was hugely supportive of changes just before he said he wasn’t supportive of the changes on Sean Moore Road.
Cllr Céitinn said: “Like other councillors, I’m supportive of many of the changes of the Covid mobility scheme and improving cycling infrastructure. But what recently got my attention was the change of road space allocation at the Sean Moore Road / Beach Road junction.”
“From the reply [from council officials] it says it has nothing to do with the Strand Road cycleway, but if you look at the Beach Road / Strand Road options, it’s very clear that there was a plan for a cycle route to travel through that junction and remove the left slip turn,” he said.
He said: “The slip turn was removed as part of this junction upgrade which is not what anybody had expected or requested but is couched in terms of upholding the council’s responsibility under the Disability Act which I feel is quite disingenuous.”
Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets (DMURS)– nearly a decade old — outlines that slip turns should be removed in urban areas for safety and accessibility reasons. First published in 2013, the manual states: “Omit left turn slips, which generally provide little extra effective vehicular capacity but are highly disruptive for pedestrians and cyclists.”
It adds: “Left turning slips generally offer little benefit in terms of junction capacity and increase the number of crossings pedestrians must navigate. They also allow vehicles to take corners at higher speeds, exposing pedestrians and cyclists to greater danger.”
He asked if the DMURS standard is an “absolute requirement”.
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Cllr Céitinn continued: “It’s very clear that the space was co-opted to change the road space allocation without any allocation or permission process or any of that. It has left residents feeling very frustrated, furious and, frankly, feeling bullied by the council. They cannot get out of their houses, they cannot get back into their houses.”
According to councillors, Dublin City Council claim that traffic monitoring has not found significant extra levels of traffic.
A visit to the road by IrishCycle.com on Wednesday at lunchtime and another at the evening rush hour found that residents in cars were driving in and out of estates with little or no delays.
The Sean Moore Road cycle route had public consultation, this did not include the extension to the junction of Beach Road, on which work was ongoing this week, or the new pedestrian crossings at the junction. It is understood that councillors were aware that the junction was to be redesigned for new crossings, but were not fully aware of the redesign details.
Cllr Céitinn said: “The [centre] lane access that they used to have was removed for the cycle route that goes up Sean Moore Road, there was a very good reason for that in the first place because of the volume of traffic that goes through the area and down Sean Moore Road. And now they are left sitting in it [traffic] for 30-40 minutes when they need to leave their house or get back to their house.”
No evidence was given to the claim that it took 30-40 minutes to exit the estates off the road as an ongoing issue as opposed to something that might have happened while construction works were ongoing.
He said that, unlike residents in nearby Sandymount, residents on Sean Moore Road cannot afford to take a legal case against the council, and that it feels like the community is “ridden roughshod over” because of this.
Cllr Céitinn questioned what planning process was used when Part 8 was not used, but councillors have been reminded a large number of times that Section 38 of the Road Traffic Act, 1994 as amended by Section 46 of the Public Transportation Regulation Act, 2009 allowed for permanent changes to existing streets and roads.
Cllr Claire Byrne (Green Party) said she did not have a huge amount to add but did not entirely agree with Cllr Céitinn.
She said she was one of the councillors who had campaigned for the new pedestrian crossings which are “very much needed”, but asked why there was no public consultation or consultation with councillors.
“I appreciate that the traffic monitoring shows there isn’t a noticeable increase in traffic, but as Daniel has outlined, we’re hearing directly from residents of the challenges that they are having accessing their homes and getting out of their homes,” she said.
Cllr Byrne said: “I’ve passed down there myself recently and I’d feel that there’s a noticeable increase in the traffic as well, particularly on the outbound direction from the city. I’d welcome the suggestion that we get a full presentation on this on the September meeting, just so we can get clarity.”
Cllr Mannix Flynn (independent) — who in the same meeting asked officials how he could object to all projects — said that consultation could have brought people along and it’s just about communication.
Cllr Flynn falsely claimed that residents are “hostages in their own homes”.
Cllr Claire O’Connor (Fianna Fáil) said that the presentation in September needs to focus on the issues that residents are having so that issues are not put off until another month after that.
Cllr Danny Byrne (Fine Gael) said residents are “really really anxious” and that there needed to be a “compromise”. He said that the situation has been really badly handled and there has been a lack of consultation.
Chairperson of the local area committee Cllr Dermot Lacey (Labour) — who has a history of backing cycle route objectors and who lobbied officials after SuperValu Ranelagh wanted the removal of bollards installed as part of Safe Routes to School Programme — said that residents don’t believe the council.
“That’s quite a hard thing to say. Trust has gone. They don’t believe what the council are saying, they don’t believe what we’re saying because we’re bringing back the information and that’s something I am asking senior officials at Dublin City Council to reflect on,” said Cllr Lacey.
Cllr Lacey was last year accused of “Olympic levels of gaslighting” after he claimed that cycling campaigners were “not pro-cycling” but “anti-car” and he claimed that nobody was against the Strand Road cycle route.
For the short timeIrishCycle.com observed the junction a number of motorists were able to enter and exit the estate on Sean Moore Road with ease:
At other times — despite being a relatively heavy rush hour nearby in the city centre — there was gaps where there was no traffic:
Other motorists were able to exit the junction so quickly, IrishCycle.com was not able to get video footage:
Although, IrishCycle.com spent more time observing the road at different spots. Only around 10 minutes was spent at one estate entrance where motorists were able to enter and exit from the estate with ease.
Dublin City Council did not respond to a request made last week for a copy of the response provided to councillors.