These are Cork cycling things: Projects stalled and watered down, sanctioned blocking of protected lanes, and no sense of urgency

— Projects which have had planning for years now “perennially stuck at detailed design phase”, says campaigners.

Cork City’s progress in providing for cycling has taken one step forwards in the last two years but two steps back this year, according to the chairperson of the Cork Cycling Campaign, Conn Donovan.

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A wide range of issues around the delivery and maintenance of cycling projects and related issues were listed in a 19-part Twitter thread outlining the many issues facing the development of cycling in Cork.

“After a really progressive 2020 and 2021, it looks like many indicators for the work to make Cork a bike friendly city are not good,” said Donovan. “We took a step forward in 20/21 and we’ve taken 2 back in recent months. There’s little good news coming down the pipeline, lots of proposed projects staring at the bin unfortunately also.”

Cork City Council was allocated €29.6 million in walking and cycling funding in 2021, but only claimed €19.1 million of that. At the end of Q2 2022, Cork City was just below the national average of the number of Active Travel staff employed compared to the number of positions which funding was allocated for by the National Transport Authority.

“In 2020 and 2021, light segregation was installed to keep vehicles out of cycle lanes in dozens of locations in the city. This practise seems to have been halted,” he said.

Donovan back up each point with a quote tweet or link to an article regarding the issues he highlighted.

Quote tweeting the below tweet, he said there are “large gaps in the row of bollards in several locations in the city.”

He said that projects that “have had planning for years” now “seem to be perennially stuck at detailed design phase”:

Donovan said that new projects — such as the Bandon Railway Greenway — that were supposed to start construction in 2022 have yet to even go for planning permission.

He criticised the fact that the only indoor bike parking in the city closed a few months after it was opened, pointing to the following tweet showing the parking when it was first opened. This closure of a Cork City Council facility in a council-own building is in sharp contrast to Dublin City Council paying for spaces for bicycles to be made available in privately-run car parks.

Councillors showing their support for cycling in principle, but then getting cold feet at the first sign of trouble or complaints is a recurring issue. While some councillors are still stuck with the claim that Cork isn’t suitable for cycling.

“BusConnects plans were announced and were heavily criticised by Cllrs, with a FF Cllr calling the people who designed the plans ‘balm pots’,” he said. On this, he linked to an article on Tripe + Drisheen covering how Cork City councillors slammed BusConnects plan.

He said that cycle route proposals which are “already of low-quality” due to poor junction design, widths, and lack of segregation have been modified and watered down further by councillors.

He pointed to an Irish Examiner article which covered how city councillors voted 19-8 to remove a cycle lane in front of a school. Councillors said that they were providing car parking for a GP surgery, a pharmacy and other businesses, but, at the time, Donovan said: “Parking arrangements already exist at this surgery. People are invited to park in the car park to the rear in accordance with the signage. Legal on-street parking directly outside it is not an option due to pedestrian crossing.”

“Other proposals have provoked huge backlash,” said Donovan in the thread. On this, he linked to an article about Ballincollig residents who are campaigning to “Save Our Roundabout and Roadlayout” — the roundabout in question is of the type which is widely recognised by transport design professionals as being unsuitable for urban areas and unsafe for people walking and cycling.

Donovan criticised the current Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Deirdre Forde (Fine Gael) for inaction and a lack of leadership. He said: “Calls to ask the Lord Mayor to show leadership on Active Travel and Public Transport have not been entertained by City Hall, the same agency that is responsible for securing a major modal share shift over this decade.”

He also highlighted how dockless bicycle share companies are being given the cold shoulder by Cork City Council.

Donovan said that several of the TFI bike share docking stations promised in 2020 were not delivered, such as County Hall, or are built but not operational, such as Connaught Avenue.

He pointed out how the Planning Regulator rebuked City Hall for low cycling targets in Cork City’s Draft City Development Plan. The regulator called on the council to implement ambitious targets for modal change along with a monitoring regime.

The thread also pointed to examples of where cycle route closures have occurred “almost weekly” along the city’s South Quays “with no diversions or alternative routes in place”:

And how protected cycle lanes have also been closed with permission from the councol for private business:

And to make it worse, he said, some of the same cycle lanes have been dug up and left in poor condition for months afterwards:

And he pointed out how new infrastrue — paid for by walking and cycling funding — is often confusing to use:

Donovan also said: “Research projects that have been suggested by volunteers have not been able to secure public or private funding,” and linked to a Tripe + Drisheen article covering such.

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