Deansgrange saga is a warning that opposing a cycle path might backfire on your best interests

Comment & Analysis: The Deansgrange Road cycle path saga isn’t over yet, but it’s starting to look like a warning that opposing a cycle path might backfire on your best interests.

Originally the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council had planned to trial reconfiguring the road as a one-way road for motorists to make space for a two-way cycle path.

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In September 2021 it was planned that there would be three new quick-build cycle routes aimed to help children cycle to school across Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Deansgrange Road made up a key part of the network.

But the objections to the project were spearheaded by some local politicians — including Fianna Fáil TD Cormac Devlin who encouraged objectors to email councillors ahead of a vote on the project and Fine Gael Senator Barry Ward who claimed public opinion wasn’t being listened to. The latter prompted then DLRCC official Robert Burns, to make an unprecedented move of replying on social media outlining how a majority of consultation responses were supportive of the trial.

Everybody would have been better off if that trial had been allowed to go ahead to see if it worked — residents, councillors, businesses etc. The consultation on the trial had over 6,000 submissions and 63% of which supported the original plan to reallocate space by making Deansgrange Road one-way for motorists.

But when objections were raised, the first compromise solution in September 2021 was to route the two-way cycle route via a detour into the graveyard — this was done to appease the objectors by avoiding disrupting cars.

Some of the most high-profile politicians opposing the one-way trial even took to social media with a video welcoming the apparent solution. But unfortunately, the idea and the very likely chance of string objections to it wasn’t fully considered. A controversial issue mixed with a sensitive area like a graveyard was never not going to be an exploding powder keg.

While the issue of affecting motorists was seemingly solved, another was just around the corner — cue grieving parents and families making headlines in national newspapers and local radio stations with wider negative coverage than the trial one-way system.

Fast forward to March of this year, councillors agreed on a new two-way cycle path outside Deansgrange Cemetery — this includes keeping the street two-way traffic but removing or relocating parking outside houses.

Now those residents are up in arms. There might be a feeling among councillors to push onwards and that’s likely the best solution at this stage, but it feels like we should be looking back.

This all seems like a warning that opposing a cycle path might backfire on your best interests — this includes councillors who are lukewarm to cycling provision that affects motorists and maybe some residents who objected to the original trial too who might in retrospect preferred a one-way system rather than having to park a short distance from their houses.

Signs have now gone up at the affected houses with slogans which mostly don’t make much sense — such as “Save our parking”, “don’t put our children at risk”, “hands off our parking”, “put people first”, and “Protect residential parking for the elderly”. How are children being put at risk? Is it just parking for the elderly or for everybody living there?

The fact is, on-street parking doesn’t belong to anybody. And it might be a bitter pill to swallow but ome residents might have been better off actively campaigning for the one-way option rather than fighting against it or staying on the sidelines.

https://twitter.com/CitizenW0lf/status/1680622590522454020?s=20

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