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Clontarf route: Unofficial Q&A (aka: People need to stop lying, and talking nonsense)

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: From Monday, the work on the Clontarf to City Centre project will step up including a detour to southbound traffic through part of Fairview and North Strand Road. Over the last week, there has been a lot of misinformation spread by some in the media, anti-cycling councillors and others on social media. So, here’s a Q&A to sort out any confusion…

Sorry if you might get a bit of an irreverent tone from this article. That’s aimed at lies, misinformation, and disinformation.

This has not been helped by poor reporting, misleading framing and a lack of context in articles by the likes of the Irish Times and RTÉ. Editors at both outlets opted for scaremongering headlines with phrases such as “banned” and “closure”, and did not making it clear the extent of the project.

All this disruption for a cycle route?!

No. Despite the media and others focusing on the cycle route element of the project, the disruption is because of the construction of what is now a much larger project.

Clontarf to City Centre route project started as a cycle route, but it expanded into a much larger project. It now includes upgraded bus stops, new footpaths throughout, much-needed new crossings, new greenery, other public realm improvements, and full resurfacing of the bus and traffic lanes.

The upgrade of the water main was also added to the project. Otherwise, Irish Water would have had to replace the 100-year-old water main at a different time — this means the project is more disruptive at once but this better than the alternative of Irish Water having to rip up the new surfaces a year or two after the rest of the works are finished.

But the pro-cycling lobby is just mentioning the water main now?

The water main has been part of the project for some time. Any claims otherwise are just plain wrong. Also: Did you forget about all the other things mentioned in the last section?

There’s no conspiracy — although you can partly blame the media for simplification, years of calling it just a cycle route when it was far much more, and a good deal of bad faith from some councillors that want to protect the status quo.

How can you justify this? The road is closed / blocked off / people won’t be able to get out of their homes!


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The road will not be closed. There is a detour in the southbound direction only. Motorists will be able to access their houses and businesses etc in the northbound direction, and looping around if needed.

The road will also be open to buses and cycling in both directions — sustainable transport in Dublin carries the majority of people into the city centre, at peak times around 70% of the people entering the city centre are outside cars. If everything was mixed into the one-lane southbound traffic would be worse as there would be no benefit to taking the bus which carries more people.

What about the people who really have to drive?

It’s a major construction project and sadly people will be disrupted, there’s really no getting away from that and claiming otherwise won’t help people.

The people who really have no choice but to drive would be best served by all councillors acting like leaders joining the call, for those who can, to use alternative modes of transport — it’s the same for the media. As this website reported on July 15: Council officials asked that travel by car should be avoided if possible.

It might sound harsh to some, but everybody needs to stop acting as if this isn’t a major project that has been agreed on by councillors, already debated for years, contracts have been signed and work is already underway. The misleading statements and reporting are not helping anybody.

If you drive a car along this route and really care about those who really need to drive, it’s up to you and people like you to drive less.

Look, we know it’s Owen Keegan’s or Eamon Ryan’s project/fault.

The Clontarf to City Centre route has been in the works for over a decade and much of that time involved councillors debating the issue. The project was eventually approved by councillors in 2017 and stakeholder engagement is ongoing since.

The first stage of the project, looking at options for making space for cycling on Newcomen Bridge, which is where North Strand Road crossings the Royal Canal, started before 2011 — around two years before Keegan became the chief executive of Dublin City Council and long before Ryan became Minister.

The car-loving residents of Dublin City and beyond, make Keegan out to be some kind of evil cycling mastermind who “messed up” Dun Laoghaire, when he was head of DLRCC, and now he’s “doing the same to Dublin City”. The reality is that far more substantial progress has been made in transferring space from cars to cycling in and around Dun Laoghaire since he left and a majority of residents like the changes once they see them in effect. Of course, some people will always complain.

But it was the Greens!

Nope. There was cross-party support for the project from councillors. Of course, some disagreed and others just about agreed with progress. It’s called democracy — it’s imperfect and messy but the least worse system out there.

But there was no consultation!

There was. Not only was there statutory public consultation before councillors voted to approve the Part 8 planning for the project, there has also been ongoing stakeholder consultation since.

Is there any chance that you have been misinformed by anti-cycling councillors? Or careless media reporting? Or maybe some lad on Facebook?

There was no notice the road was going to be made one-way!

There were warnings on social media, warnings on signs on the roads approaching the area, and warnings in press releases. Councillors and stakeholders were also informed.

Most of the media didn’t bother covering the issue when the city council issued the first press release weeks ago about the divisions and how, those who can, should use other means of transport — this website covered this on July 15.

What about the business which closed?

The only business to close was owned by a man who has been obsessed with opposing the project for years. He closed his shop the day construction started and months before the diversion to start tomorrow. He made this announcement in advance of the closure but after he had a new job elsewhere. He is now selling his small shop for 1/4 of a million euro.

The cycle route should have gone through the park!

The project has been in the works for over a decade, debated for years, covered in the media, and work on the ground has been ongoing for months now, so, talking about what could have been is kind of like crying over spilt milk at this stage. Sorry, but it is time to move on.

If you really don’t want to move on — even if the cycle route went through the park around Fairview, the water main would still need replacing and south of Fairview the cycle route would still have to be built along the road. Even in Fairview, the project involves resurfacing the road and footpaths.

So, just suck it up? Is that it?

No, that’s not it. But the spreading of misinformation and disinformation has caused extra unneeded stress and anger. Who does that help? It does not help the people who really need to drive and it does not help North Strand residents (the majority of who don’t own cars) or businesses who need to get on with life. It does not help any other issue, such as people cycling having to mix with taxis and buses through an active building site.

There will need to be more changes to streets in Dublin and around Ireland to make walking, cycling, and buses more attractive. The changes will be hard for some and we need to focus less on wholesale opposition and more on how impacts can be minimised on people. There also has to be the realisation that when motorists have had most of the space on streets and roads for so long, taking the away can feel like oppression.

I still don’t believe you.

Then I have some snake oil to sell you… or some timeshares, NFTs or something like that.

Where can I find out more?

You can get more information at C2CC.ie. Although the city council are slow to update some information such as the bus stop details and section of drawings involving those.

*****

Temporary clarification pending further info: The section on notice originally contained the following paragraph: “Houses and businesses around the project were also leafleted, but a common issue is that some people just bin any leaflets as junk mail without looking at them, and, of course, the leafleters might have missed some places.”

This paragraph has been removed pending checking on if a large area around the work area didn’t receive leaflets. We have heard complaints that areas north of the work area did, but that those closer did not. This may turn into a correction and, if it’s an extensive issue, it will also be covered in a separate news article.

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