— Councillor said tonight that he’ll “test” the law used for cycle routes.
— NTA told DLRCC funding is not available for the full project, so, it will proceed in stages.
The vast majority of public consultation respondents said that they support making Dún Laoghaire’s Coastal Mobility Route permanent.
The project to make the route, which is used to make around 2,000 cycling trips per day, gained support from 689 (57%) people who are in favour of the scheme proceeding as proposed and another 214 people (18%) are in “favour of the scheme proceeding with a few changes”.
Of the respondents, 308 (25%) said that they did not want the scheme to proceed.
Conor Geraghty, the senior engineer on the active travel team at Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, said that of the respondents not supportive of the scheme, their most frequent feedback was that there was a lack of justification for the scheme, but he said that the project is backed by local, regional and national policy including the Climate Action Plan and the County Development Plan.
He said that there were three reports carried out by TU Dublin about the project and that it “aligns with DLR policy and national policy to provide sustainable travel options and that the route is part of the Great Dublin Area Cycle Network which is also supported within the County Development Plan.”
Geraghty said that the project will also include an extra disabled parking bay and better wayfinding for motorists. See IrishCycle.com’s previous article for artist’s impressions, drawings and further details.
He said: “The implementation will be on a phased basis as funding is being made available, the NTA has indicated that they are not in a position to fund the entirety of the project at this time. So prioritisation will be given to sections of the project where there is no cycling segregation at present and the area of pedestrian priority to be provided.”
The consultation has included flyers being posted to 6,700 homes and 1,016 businesses along the route and the wider Dún Laoghaire area, outdoor A2 posters displayed along the route, social media and DLRCC website postings, providing information via the Public Participation Networks and public libraries, and two public information webinars.
Cllr Melisa Halpin (People Before Profit) objected to the project using Section 38 of the Road Traffic Act and wanted Part 8 of the Planning Act to be used instead.
On a motion of hers, passed by councillors to use Part 8, Cllr Halpin said: “We were advised that all it did was express the will of the councillors, and that is all it did but I don’t really understand. I think the best will in the world of every councillor who voted for it was to try to have the council win back the people on these issues.”
“The worst press this council get is on this kind of thing,” and after 75% of respondents supported the project at public consultation she said: “If we want buy-in to the projects… like I have all of the time in the world for the Coastal Mobility Route, I cycle it most days out here, so, it’s not about being against this, it’s about constantly wanting the council to consult with people and use the legislation which has been in place to try to make that the best possible.”
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She said that she will not be bringing a Section 139 motion to stop it, inferring other councillors might.
Cllr Michael Clark (Fianna Fáil) said that he supports her motion — he said the “very best means of securing public support for a major piece of county infrastructure should be chosen” before saying that “I’ll be the first to admit, that I am not the biggest fan of the Coastal Mobility Route, shock horror. But I acknowledge there probably is a democratic mandate within this council to chose it”.
Cllr Martha Fanning (Labour) said for the network effect to kick in we need to see the pinch point at Deepwell beside Blackrock Dart Station to be resolved. However, Cllr Fanning also said she would support Part 8 over Section 38.
Cllr Lorraine Hall (Fine Gael) said she “very much so welcomed” the update from officials and noted that the motion was seeking additional consultation when the council had just finished additional consultation.
She said: “The statistics speak for themselves, it’s very popular and highly used. It has quieted the seafront and made it more enjoyable for visitors and residents and because one lane of traffic is gone it’s safer.”
Cllr Hall said that the council is listening to people and an example of this was the decision as part of the project to change the direction of traffic along Windsor Terrace to try to relieve the congestion at People’s Park.
Cllr Justin Moylan (Fianna Fáil) said the nature of change was that some people don’t agree but he would also support the motion from Cllr Halpin.
Cllr Jim Gildea (Fine Gael) also said he supports Cllr Halpin’s motion. Cllr Gildea further said that he will look to take a judicial review in Court into the decision to use Section 38 of the Road Traffic Act. He said it was a planning matter and this could not proceed without a Part 8.
He said that if there was a Part 8 he would support the project with some adjustments.
Later in the meeting, he reaffirmed: “I’ll test it out for you, it was tested out before”, apparently referring to one of the legal challenges.
Cllr Carrie Smyth (Labour) said she also wanted to council to use Part 8 — she said that there was general support for the scheme but that councillors had previously been told the project would come back to them.
Cllr Kate Ruddock (Green Party) said that the route is excellent and she supports the extensions proposed to join up the route more. She said that Section 38 was quite clear on the powers that councils have the officials had made the right decision.
Cllr Tom Kivlehan (Green Party), the chair of the meeting, said that the project had brought benefits to the area and he rejected the idea that consultation was not extensive with over 1,200 respondents when he said that the County Development Plan, which covers the whole council area, only had 1,600 submissions.
He added: “It has been a wonderful addition to our town and I think making it permanent will benefit generations to come in within this city and I’d like to support it.”
Geraghty said that Part 8 is only suitable for when there is an off-road section and Section 38 should be used for when the council is implementing on-street changes. He said: “If members do not want the project to proceed, there are mechanisms you can use. But there’s a strong argument if we were to use a Part 8 for this it would not be appropriate.”
He said that the consultation which the council has undertaken is far in excess of what’s required under Part 8. He said: “In previous Part 8s, Blackrock got 500, Rochestown [Avenue] got 200 and we were applauded for managing to get that many submissions. In this case, now, there’s 1,200 submissions and somehow we’re being criticised for a lack of consultation.”
Geraghty said that he agreed that the pinch point at Blackrock Dart station needed to be looked at.
He said that he does not have certainty about funding so cannot give an estimated start date.
Even after there was clarification given on Section 38 and its use, some councillors still expressed confusion about the legislation.
There was then further confusion about the motion and whether it was just calling for a further debate on the issue or accepting that they already had fulfilled that requirement for a debate. There was general agreement that the motion was fulfilled by having the debate. Councillors agreed on the motion in that it was fulfilled by having the debate.