Dublin City Council has said that “anti-social behaviour” from scrambler users was the reason why it blocked off permeability for children cycling to school by placing kissing gates at points between the Hole in the Wall Road and Newgrove housing estate in Donaghmede.
Barriers such as kissing gates are against the principles of universal access and can also block or hinder people with disabilities, parents with prams and elderly people.
Alan Downey, a local resident and cycling campaigner, said that there was no warning or consultation ahead of the council installing the gate last week.
Downey said: “A direct route to local sports facilities and school used by me and my family for many years was removed without warning. The gates don’t address anti-social behaviour in the area and any just move it along to the next greenspace.”
He added: “It’s disappointing and frustrating that Dublin City Council chose to lock out disabled people, families with buggies and anyone using an adapted cycle out of a safe quiet route and one of their local parks.”
A spokesperson for Dublin City Council said: “Following on from numerous complaints and requests from local residents requesting that Dublin City Council and the Gardai take action on the scramblers that were using this park on a regular basis. They had stated that this anti-social behaviour was a danger to the children who play in this park.”
“Dublin City Council have therefore installed kissing gates at entrances to this park that will stop scramblers speeding in off the Hole in the Wall Road and flying around the park. These kissing gates are of a similar specification to the kissing gates used in all Dublin City Council parks,” said the spokesperson.
Transport Minister Eamon Ryan asked councils to stop using restrictive barriers on walking and cycling routes, but councils have interpreted this to mean only new routes or those routes funded by active travel funding.
Campaigners however have repeatedly shown that scramblers are not blocked by kissing gates.
The whiff of ASB within public amenity zones always means the solution is to gate the entrances to the park.
ASB has to be tackled at root cause. Scrambler use by young prople in public places remains an enforcement issue..
Unfortunately as we are seeing recently, there is a very aggressive and confrontational ASB element in many communities.
And let’s face it, the Gardaí are afraid to confront it head on by it’s regular rank and file members because this element turns violent very quickly.
But unfortunately by being cautious (in other words afraid) to tackle this behaviour and the perpetrators, they are instead giving these gurriurs the green light to indulge in ever increasing ASB and criminality.
The Guards and the civic authorities are afraid. These kissing gates (a term I wasn’t aware of before) is their unspoken way of avoiding confrontation.
Unfortunately it is also denying access to a civil amenity but that’s the price of fear.