No, a 6-month trial of the Strand Road cycle route still hasn’t been implemented. But the traffic restrictions of the Irish Water’s water main replacement are currently closely mirroring the council’s traffic arrangements for the cycle route. But there has been strangely little talk of “traffic chaos”.
IrishCycle.com understands that, up to today at least, there hasn’t been an influx of complaints to Dublin Airport that people who cannot reach Dublin Airport.
In July 2021, Justice Charles Meenan, in his written High Court judgment against Dublin City Council’s Strand Road cycle route, said that the words of a senior council official in an affidavit “would seem to suggest that residents and other persons in the affected roads should they wish to go to Dublin Airport would have to either walk or cycle.”
Not to be totally confused with one of the objectors — at least some of whom actually used airport access as a line of argument against the project — the Judge added: “I am sure that this is not what was intended by the City Council but it does seem to show a level of indifference to those affected.”
The High Court ruled in favour of Peter Carvill, of the Serpentine Avenue, Tritonville and Claremont Roads group, and Cllr Mannix Flynn (independent) who took the case against the council.
Today, the Irish Water’s East City Arterial Water Main Replacement Project on Beach Road and Strand Road has been ongoing for some time. But a little over a month ago on January 6, traffic cones and bollards were put down closing off access from Merrion Gates to Strand Road. This largely replicates the route for motorists as part of the cycleway plan.
Some two-way local access has been allowed on Strand Road, but through traffic has been closed off in the northbound direction since January 6. Southbound traffic can still use Strand Road.
The Court of Appeal is hearing the Dublin City Council’s appeal against the High Court judgment. The outcome of that case was expected late last year, but another hearing is expected tomorrow (Tuesday).
Ahead of the case, locals contacted IrishCycle.com to outline how — at least in their view — that the predicted traffic chaos hasn’t materialised.
When asked how many complaints it has received, Dublin City Council directed this website to Irish Water, which had not responded to the question before the publication of this article.
Cllr Dermot Lacey (Labour) said he is receiving a few complaints a day, while Cllr Hazel Chu (Green Party) said that she had received some complaints but this had eased off as the works continued. A number of other local councillors didn’t respond to attempts to contact them.
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Cllr Lacey said traffic was “absolutely chaotic” in the area. He has received at least two or three complaints a day about the ongoing Irish Water works.
“Around Tritonville, Church Avenue… all around the area around Star of the Sea Church, it has been bad and Serpentine Avenue has been crazy. Now some of that has been because of diversions and people not seeing the diversions,” he said.
Cllr Lacey added: “My view has always been that if people had sat down and talked to each other… agreement would be reached.”
He said that a shorter trial could have gone ahead and it took too long to set up the community forum, which he said he first proposed. He said that it was unlikely there’d be any proposals before the court case is resolved, but that traffic measures within Sandymount would also have to be looked at.
Cllr Chu said: “We always said that [car traffic] would even out. I banged my head against the wall at each of those consultation forums that I set up for the resident, to be shouted at and to be told that things would be chaos. Myself and Brendan O’Brien said it may be at the start but it will even out.”
“Which is what we see now with this [the Irish Water works], that there was chaos at the beginning, but not that there isn’t any traffic down there now, but things have balanced out. It was always going to be the case,” she said.
David Turner, the chairperson of the Sandymount and Merrion Residents Association (SAMRA), a group which was not involved in the court case, said that he has written to councillors asking to make sure that traffic monitors are recording the data. Turner said it has been a difficult and polarising issue.
“Then when it comes back to the decision of what routing [of the cycle route] to be picked, it wouldn’t be done on the basis of projected data or theoretical analysis, it would be done on actual data on how the traffic now flows.”
Turner said he lives in the area of Sandymount where everybody would have expected traffic to be quieter and wasn’t sure how the traffic is closer to Sandymount Village. He said that the least worse option should be looked at but that it would be too early to be conclusive without the data.
A number of other residents who spoke to IrishCycle.com on condition of not using their names, including some closer to the village, said they were supportive of the cycle path trial but were still surprised with how little traffic there was.
Most agreed that there was more traffic on Merrion Road as well as on Tritonville and Serpentine Avenue, but not quite the “traffic chaos” that was expected.
Back in October, the colourful Dublin Live website reported that “Sandymount residents ‘spitting thumb tacks’ in rage over Strand Road works“, but then only around a month later, in November, The Irish Times reported residents saying that the “Armageddon forecast” of traffic chaos hasn’t happened. For clarity: The residents who talked to IrishCycle.com on background were not the same as those quoted by The Irish Times.
The Irish Times quoted a letter from residents which said: “If [Dublin City Council] attempts to return Strand Road to undesirable and excessive noise levels, and based on legal advice we have received, we will have no option but to take legal action to ensure the local authority abides by its own policy, as passed by the elected members.”
Back in October, the motor traffic was in the opposite direction on Strand Road, with southbound traffic flowing from the Eastlink Bridge and directly into the inner roads of Sandymount. Now southbound traffic is using Strand Road and northbound traffic has restricted entry into Sandymount.
The turning lane at the Merrion Gates into Strand Road is 300 metres long, allowing for a good deal of car capacity. But from the Merrion Road into Serpentine Avenue and Tritonville Road, there’s no dedicated turning lane at all, the bus lane just ends to allow motorists to go around cars waiting to turn. This was always a key point — the turn into the latter two has far less capacity than the turn into Strand Road.
Besides when there was a collision or when the Port Tunnel was restricted, things have gone quiet since the motoring route changed to be like the cycle route proposals.
There have been no more front-page stories in The Irish Times as was a number of times against the cycle route, there have been few complaints on Twitter, no emergency motions at council meetings, and very few reports on online or radio traffic reports (hardly any if you exclude when there was a collision or the Port Tunnel issues).
We know that it’s not just international evidence that tells us that traffic evaporation is real, but 48% of cars evaporated from Dublin City Centre’s streets at peak times — from 89,500 in 1997 to under 46,400 in 2019 while the city and city centre have grown.
And what has apparently happened in Sandymount is without the cycle route in place to give people that alternative.
UK Court of Appeal justices overruled and criticised a UK High Court judge for straying into policy issues in regard to a walking and cycling scheme in London. Only time will tell if the Irish judges at the Court of Appeal will take a similar route.
Clarification: Cllr Lacey wanted it to be noted that he proposed the forum. So, the line “…and it took too long to set up the community forum.” has been changed to “…and it took too long to set up the community forum, which he said he first proposed.”