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Luas Finglas: Public, politicians, and officials object to NTA diktat to remove cycle route from tram extension project

“Public representatives, local authorities, residents, and the wider community” have reacted strongly to a diktat by the National Transport Authority which removed plans for walking and cycling routes along the planned Luas green line extension to Finglas.

As reported in January, documents released under Freedom of Information showed that officials at the National Transport Authority told the Luas Finglas project team at Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) that they should remove sections of cycle paths from project drawings along the planned tram route.

The Luas project would extend the green line around 4km north of its current northern terminus to Charlestown in Finglas and near the M50. It is to include four new tram stops.

Walking and cycling routes which were shown in the 2020 public consultation drawings were removed from the latest consultation when ended in January. The intervention by the NTA not only shocked transport and cycling campaigners, but the TII project team also strongly argued against the move.

It also went directly against transport Minister Eamon Ryan — when launching the first Luas Finglas public consultation in 2020, Minister Ryan said: “…The government is committed to improving sustainable public transport and I am also pleased that there will be a pedestrian and cycling path along most of the route…”.

Today, Feljin Jose, chairperson of the Dublin Commuter Coalition said: “The most common comment in the Luas Finglas public consultation was about active travel. Of those, 87% were opposed to the removal of the continuous walking and cycling route from the project.”

He added: “We’ve been campaigning on this since the preferred route was announced in December so we’re delighted to see so many others also raise the issue.”

IMAGE: A map of the route.

The public consultation report which was published today by TII, said: “Most of the responses mentioned the removal of pedestrian and cycling facilities from some stretches of the route on the Preferred Route (compared to the Emerging Preferred Route), following a large amount of social media activity on the topic.”

It added: “There was strong opposition to this proposal with over two-thirds (69% of the online responses) of the respondents rating the walking and cycling proposals as poor or very poor. Many of the comments also related to the removal of the pedestrian and cycling facilities (38% of the total comments), stating this was a missed opportunity.”

The report said that “This was raised by public representatives, local authorities, residents, and the wider community.”

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“Significant negative feedback” that walking and cycling routes were reduced

Part of the summary of the response from Dublin City Council’s Planning and Property Development Department said that “There was significant negative feedback that the Preferred Route plans had reduced cycling and walking infrastructure.”

The report said: “[The council] States that care should be taken to ensure the need for high-quality connections and environments for pedestrians and cyclists is addressed. DCC asks the decision to remove the cycle-track alongside the Luas route is reconsidered and the provision of off-road tracks through the green network and alongside the Luas line is reinstated as integral element of this project.”

The summary added: “Asks for clarification to be given as to how cycling along or across the Luas track may be safely incorporated into the scheme. DCC also discourages the sharing of the road between vehicles and vulnerable road users where opportunities are available to avoid vehicular and pedestrian/cyclist conflict.”

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Cian Ginty

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