Interim Ranelagh cycle route: Councillors mainly focus on car parking and loading

— Businesses and cycle route objectors start in contact with councillors before meeting.

The 3km interim Clonskeagh cycle route, which includes Ranelagh Village, was discussed for over an hour yesterday at the South East local area committee meeting of Dublin City Council.

It is one of the two southside quick-build cycle routes reported on last week.

Councillors mainly focused on parking and loading with one councillor saying it was a question of the “survival of the urban village”. Most councillors also expressed some level of support for the project

Council official Niall Kinsella, an engineer in the Active Travel section of the council who is focused on interim cycle routes, took questions. He said to councillors that the project balances different requirements including providing a continuous cycle route at the same time as providing parking where possible and loading for businesses.

Kinsella said that there are some difficult choices to make including removing car parking and small sections of bus lanes. He said the current bus lane does not provide a high level of service, this was a view shared with some councillors but not others.

Public consultation on the project is expected to start at end of the month, and an increase in loading space is expected to be provided, Kinsella said. There will be a loss of around 40 car parking spaces, but only around 5 of those would be in Ranelagh Village.

Lack of safe connection to city centre

The council previously displayed images showing how the route would link to the city centre with a two-way cycle path using one of the two traffic lanes beside Harcourt Luas stop — but a map as part of the presentation to councillors leaves the route short of this at Charlemont Street.

Cllr Claire Byrne (Green Party) asked how the route will connect from Charlemont Street to the core city centre — there is a cycling-unfriendly, multi-lane, one-way system between the street and areas like most of Harcourt Street and Camden Street.

She said: “If you’re coming down Charlemont or if you’re trying access Charlemont, those are very dangerous routes,” she said. “So, I’m just wondering why the scheme is stopping at the bottom of Charlemont and we’re not looking at how it connects.”

But, on that question, Kinsella only referred to the Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network Plan, implying future projects would look at the issue.

Cllr Byrne also said that the Clonskeagh route has been presented to councillors before and wondered why councillors were acting as if it has been “plucked out of nowhere”.

The concept of rolling out interim routes in a systematic way was outlined last year when the council launched its new plans for an Active Travel network. The Active Travel section of the council also visited every council area committee to brief them.

Parking, loading, and a mix of supportiveness

Cllr Paddy McCartan (FG) has previously objected to cycle routes including the Strand Road route, and the South Dublin Quietway, and in 2016 he suggested that an impasse at a pinch point on the Liffey Cycle Route could be solved by cyclists dismounting.

But yesterday Cllr McCartan claimed he has “long advocated for schemes like this and been very supportive of them” and he recognises the “diminishing role of the motorist”.

He asked for officials to confirm if the decision was “out of their [councillor’s] hands” and wanted to know the cost of the project. It was confirmed the project is being planned using Section 38 of the Road Traffic Act as amended, which does not require councillor approval. The approach, however, is one where council management tries to keep councillors on-side.

James Geoghegan (FG) said he cycles the road the whole time and wasn’t sure what exactly was to change along much of the route which already has plastic bollards protecting cycle paths.

He asked if the endpoint of the project was going to look like the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown section of the route south of the River Dodder which he said was a proper segregated cycle route.

Cllr Geoghegan said he was seeking details because he does not want to “mislead people” or unnecessary ruffle feathers that don’t need unruffling.”

In response, Kinsella said that the interim cycle route would include a more continuous route that is currently in places and, where there is space, wider cycle lanes. Kinsella outlined how a different team is working on the permanent project, so, he cannot speak for them.

Cllr Geoghegan added: “And finally, a lot of lessons will have been learnt when all of these things were put in in the first place, we changed things around to facilitate various businesses and I hope you have that information so you don’t make the same mistakes again, the same rows.”

This is an apparent reference by Cllr Geoghegan about bollards installed on the cycle lane in Safe Routes to School Programme which were removed from outside SuperValu Ranelagh after businesses lobbied councillors and councillors, in turn, lobbied council officials for the removal of the bollards. This was revealed in documents released after a Freedom of Information request that reported on.

Cllr Hazel Chu (Green Party) asked if parking was being removed for “two proper cycle lanes” and asked about loading spaces, partially off various side roads.

“I’ve had a number of businesses say that they are not against the cycle lane but they do have an issue with loading. Is there a way to allocate loading spaces for them?… I know you have two there marked but can there be more and perhaps off the various streets?” she said.

Cllr Claire O’Connor (FF) said he was “very supportive” of the project and hopes it can be as ambitious as possible. She said, like Cllr Geoghegan, she cycles the route twice on a daily basis.

“There’s a sense from businesses if car parking is taken away that business will go down and there isn’t that sense that there’s a buoyancy and balance in that this will bring in new businesses in terms of cycling. If you go into a business with a bicycle helmet on I think businesses presume there’s less likelihood that you’re going to spend, so, I think we need to eradicate that culture and if businesses can be maybe be appraised of that,” she said.

She said that she would love to see a marketing push to promote the positive side of the cycle route upgrade.

Cllr Mary Freehill (Labour) — who last August complained that Ireland is “Kafkaesque” for the removal of 14 parking spaces to provide bus stops for new orbital bus routes — said yesterday that people drive to Ranelagh because of the lack of orbital bus routes.

“People have no alternative because there is no public transport, the frequency of the 18 bus has been diminished and nothing else has been added to it,” said Cllr Freehill.

Cllr Freehill said: “Has there been much focus on the survival of the urban village and the impact it [the cycle route] would have on the urban village?… The general survival of the urban village and the businesses there, I think, has to be focused on.”

Just moments after Kinsella said repeated that they hoped to increase the amount of loading bay spaces, Cllr Freehill said she heard mention of only one loading bay for the village and asked how would that work.

Cllr Mannix Flynn (independent) — who has objected to and brought a Court case against the council over the Strand Road cycle route trial which would have reduced car space — said that the scheme is not going to remove any cars when the main issue in the city centre is “the overbearing hostility of cars.”

He claimed that the project is designed for a “certain class of people” and that it is “certainly not going to impact positively on working-class people and their communities.”

Last year he claimed that cycle routes were not being provided in working-class areas when several cycle routes were and still are in planning which partly or fully went via areas seen as working-class. This is a tactic used against cycle routes which has also been seen in the UK.

Cllr Flynn also asked if disability groups or the council’s traffic committee were consulted, asked the for the projects to be referred to the traffic committee, and asked about how the funding for the project was being spent.

Cllr Deirdre Conroy (FF) asked what can be done for people with disabilities and people who have to park along the road. She said: “Not everybody can cycle in the terribly cold and wet winter, so, some people just have to park there.”

Kinsella said no disabled parking was being removed.

Cllr Dermot Lacey (Labour) said he will soon be collecting his bicycle after the last one was stolen before Christmas and hoped to cycle on the planned schemes.

Cllr Lacey said: “Some if not all of us have received a very detailed submission from the Voice of the Visually Impaired with a lot of questions relating to this scheme and the next one. In particular, in relation to bus stop islands. They have a legitimate right to raise questions and have them answered.”

“Several speakers have referred to deliveries. Cllr Freehill is right, we have to strike a balance here between protecting our urban villages and providing this infrastructure — while I don’t think any of us are advocating wide-scale parking, we do have to have places for delivers if our urban villages are to survive, so, that has to be looked at,” he said.

WATCH: The meeting can be viewed in full at — the discussion covered above is in the first hour of the recording after a short intro.

Presentations and sample drawings from the presentations:

Charlemont Street

Ranelagh Road

Ranelagh Village

Ranelagh Village south

Junction at Miltown Rd. Eglington Rd.

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