Why is Cllr Colm Kelleher supporting NIMBYs objecting to a greenway in Cork?

— Planned walking and cycling route will link residential areas and a school.

Comment & Analysis: Why is Cllr Colm Kelleher supporting NIMBY objectors swallowing to the Maglin Greenway in Ballincollig?

Cork City Council is currently consulting on the route until July 24, but what does the project involve that a self-proclaimed staunch active travel supporter like Cllr Kelleher would turn against an urban greenway?

The project is a relatively small one, only around 1.5km long, but it will link to routes in the short-term and will itself be extended in the longer term.

Let’s have a look at the route and why Cllr Kelleher might be objecting…


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The council’s images show photographs of the current view and photomontages of what’s planned — effectively ‘before’ and planned ‘after’ images.

The plan is to transform an area with brambles and rough grass to include a safe route for walking and cycling with more trees, wildflower meadow, seating and informal play areas.

There are loads of areas around Ireland which are begging for investment like this:

The route then reaches Carriganarra Estate where the cycling provision is on a low-traffic shared surface with traffic calming which will make the streets safer for children and others:

These kinds of junction redesigns make places both safer and more attractive:

Away from the junctions, there are new footpaths on the side of the street where there’s currently none:

Before it links up with another off-road section:

It includes new trees along the route and pond areas:

Connections to new estates and to Gaelscoil Uí Ríordáin are planned:


So, why is Cllr Kelleher, a local Fianna Fáil councillor in Ballincollig objecting to the project as proposed? (Or supporting those who are doing so, which is the same thing).

He told the Echo newspaper: “We are all in favour of active travel and promoting safe cycling to school, but it can’t be at the expense of people’s peace.”

But while Cllr Kelleher claims everybody is for active travel projects — the truth is most objectors these days claim they are supportive of walking and cycling improvements when they aren’t. Few people make outright objections anymore, even serial objectors to sustainable transport projects in different parts of the country offered their generalised support and then look for projects to be watered down.

After objecting to the Coolroe and Greenfield cycle paths and the Ballincollig BusConnects plans and, now this… will Cllr Kelleher be actually supportive of any projects Ballincollig which one or more residents object to?

There’s little out there but vagueness and exaggeration about why some residents are upset — it is classic ‘Not In My Back Yard’ stuff. At some point, if it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.

These objectors are aided by the local media like the Echo newspaper reporting nonsense about “Locals have objected at what they see as the introduction of a busy throughfare outside their front doors.”

Any journalist — both reporters and editors — who cannot distinguish between a walking and cycling route and a road needs to examine their conscience. It’s not a bloody motorway or a link road.

In one Echo newspaper article, there are vague claims about children’s safety as if traffic-calming and safer walking and cycling links aren’t better for safety.

“Greenways are fantastic and we are all for all of that, but at what cost?” is the end of one quote — but what is the cost? The main cost would seem to be the objectors swallowing their pride and admitting they are wrong when it’s built and used by the community as similar routes are in Cork and other parts of the country.

There’s no sense to the vagueness, except to scare people… or maybe to avoid saying more ridiculous things out loud.

And, as far as I can see, even on local Facebook pages people are mostly supportive of the project with the usual grumpy or misinformed people ranting about cycle lanes not being used and vagueness about anti-social behaviour as if this greenway will see an influx of people at 1am.

Some claim to care about children while in reality they and others are likely to be the type of people who demonise older children hanging around in open spaces and brand children talking to each other as “anti-social behaviour”.

One person mentioned that their rear wall isn’t high enough for it to be secure — I mean for god’s sake, that’s the kind of thing you talk to the council about adjusting, not object to a walking and cycle route linking up residential areas to a school.

How are we to improve road safety, lower our emissions from transport, improve green spaces, and get people moving by enabling walking and cycling nationally if the media and councils pander to every group of NIMBY residents who get worked up and rile up their neighbours because they don’t like change or they read something on Facebook,?

Some of them might tell their children that they are doing their bit by recycling and wearing high-vis.

People like Cllr Colm Kelleher and journalists should be showing some leadership. At the very least, they should be acting responsibly. As Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin said: “Politicians need to just count to 10 before they start objecting.” Martin was talking about housing, but the same thing should apply to greenways and other infrastructure that will benefit communities.

2 comments

  1. I agree that it has recently become a very common thing to hear local representatives and objectors say irritating qualifying statements like “I am all for active travel investment but…” Unless they have truly valid concerns then these statements really need to be challenged.

    Reply
  2. That section of old railway line has been shown as a cycleway/pedestrian route on zoning maps going back through many development plans. In the old Cork County Development Plans and now in the Cork City Development Plan 2022-2028. When a zoning objective is proposed and subsequently agreed to and signed off on by local politicians in a development plan there should be no further objection in principle. Discussion and agreement should only be around the details. The sooner Ballincollig gets a useable connected network of bicycle and pedestrian trails the better.

    Reply

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