Traffic On Belmont Avenue
There are six options for how to deal with the many traffic problems on Belmont Avenue, said Dublin City Council transport engineer Andrew Duff at the South East Area committee meeting last Monday, 8 March.
He said that congestion, rat-running, speeding and dangerous driving are all problems on the two-lane road, which runs through Donnybrook, connecting Donnybrook Road to Sandford Road.
It’s a mainly residential, 500m-long road that allows access to a number of cul-de-sacs, St Mary’s Lawn Tennis Club, and St Mary’s National School.
Cars sometimes mount the already narrow footpath to pass the long queues that build up at rush hour, said Duff, making it dangerous for children walking to and from the school.
“In particular circumstances, people have had to take evasive action to avoid collision,” he said.
The solutions proposed come as six options. The first is to drop the speed limit from 50km/h to 30km/h, which the report says would not have a significant impact unless combined with another option.
This is the same for the second option, which is to remove three parking spaces to allow for cars to pull in so oncoming traffic could pass, the report says.
The third option, removing all 57 parking spaces, would likely be met with opposition. While it would allow for widening footpaths, “not all residents down here have off-street parking available to them”, Duff said.
The fourth option, a one-way system with road humps, would allow parking to be kept on the southern side of the street.
The fifth option is making the road into a cul-de-sac, with a pedestrian “filter” either at the junction with Sandford Road or Mount Eden Road. The report states that the latter is less preferable, as it would encourage u-turns during school drop-offs.
The sixth option, restricted access from Sandford Road, would reduce rat-running and congestion, says Duff. The report highlights that current issues will persist without traffic-calming measures with this option.
Fine Gael Councillor Paddy McCartan said that one reason vehicles are using the footpaths is because SUVs have gotten bigger.
“Problem is only going to get worse. Even if we bring in a cul-de-sac, you’re still going to have vehicles coming up and down, that if they reach a certain point, may have to go up on the footpath,” he said.
“The first four I would probably discount. It’s five and six, the issue of turning it into a cul-de-sac, that is probably the preferred option at the moment, as I would see it,” McCartan said.
“The main issue here is one of safety, because we have seen certain photographs there that have shown very erratic dangerous driver behaviour,” he said.
Green Party Councillor Hazel Chu, the lord mayor, said the road has had issues for 30 years.
“All the residents associations, and also parent groups, and local groups and tidy towns as well, have said that option five is their preference,” she says.
But turning the avenue into a cul-de-sac would have a knock-on effect on other roads, Chu says, such as Marlborough Road.
“We also have to make sure we have a plan for Marlborough Road, in terms of traffic-calming and diversion,” she said.
“But at the same time, I think that this is a good time to implement this, while traffic is a lot slower in this part of the city. I’ve seen videos where kids are near-miss, at the school there,” she said.
“We haven’t yet heard the voice of the public here,” said Green Party Councillor Claire Byrne. She asked for a public consultation of a wider area surrounding the road, Herbert Park and Eglin Road, as the changes would affect their traffic too, if it is workable, she said.
A Promenade in Sandymount?
At the recent meeting of the South East Area Committee, Fine Gael Councillor James Geoghegan asked for a presentation from the council’s flood-relief department on its proposal to build a promenade at Sandymount Strand.
“It’s fairly revelatory in my opinion that they’ve now decided as a flood-relief measure that the construction of a promenade is necessary to prevent the flooding of Sandymount homes,” he said.
He said he wished that this had been brought up sooner, given the controversy over the Sandymount cycle lane, he said.
“I think it’s a major change for the community, and I don’t think it should be sort of a secret of Fatima what’s going to be put forward here.”
Consultants first have to be procured for the project and it will be at least two years before the preliminary design stage is reached, said a council spokesperson.
Part 10 planning permission, for significantly large developments, will be needed via An Bord Pleanála as well as environmental assessments, the spokesperson said.
Said Geoghegan, at the meeting: “Can we hurry it along? Because I think it would be a fantastic amenity, as we’ve all said from the beginning if we could have a new promenade to facilitate pedestrians and cyclings, irrespective of the current debate taking place with the trial.”
Geoghegan, after the meeting, said he “100%” thinks it could be part of the solution to issues currently surrounding the construction of a two-lane cycleway on Sandymount Strand, replacing a lane of vehicle traffic.
Some local residents have campaigned against the cycle lane. A legal challenge has been brought to the High Court by Peter Carvill, a resident of Serpentine Avenue, and independent Councillor Mannix Flynn.
“The benefit for the community in having to build a big promenade is you can put whatever you want on it, including a cycle track, and people walking around on it”, said Geoghegan.
“If we build a big promenade, put on a cycle track, it would stop flooding and be a very positive amenity for the area,” he said.
TheDublin City Council Capital Programme 2021–2023 includes the promenade project.
Under National Transport Authority-funded schemes, the 22km East Coast Trail project, part of a planned cycle route from Sutton to Sandycove, mentions a promenade that should be erected at Sandymount as part of flood defence.
It would begin at Sean Moore Park and end where the current promenade ends, opposite the entrance to St Alban’s Park.
“The scheme will entail the construction of a 1,200mm diameter water mains, a promenade as part of the Flood Defence of the south bay and a cycleway which forms part of the 22km Sutton to Sandycove route,” the document says.
Cycle Lane from Broadstone to the Liberties
A proposed cycle lane was presented to councillors by council engineer Eoin Corrigan, as part of the Covid-19 Mobility Programme.
A submission was sent by a local residents’ association in late January, detailing a lack of connectivity for walking and cycling from areas like Phibsborough and Cabra to the Liberties and Thomas Street.
The submission was also co-signed by councillors, local businesses and universities.
The segregated, two-way cycle lane would form part of the Greater Dublin Network Cycle Plan.
“It made complete sense to link these areas up, and it flows in well to what’s already in the pipeline for Bus Connects,” said Darragh Moriarty, a Labour councillor, at the South Central Area meeting.
“The bridge will be a pinch point,” he said, referring to the Liam Mellows Bridge, connecting Queen Street on the north side and Bridgefoot Street on the south side.
Two lanes of one-way traffic flow south across the bridge, with footpaths on either side. “It’s already quite narrow from a footpath point of view.”
Michael Pidgeon, a Green Party councillor, asked that one lane of one-way traffic be removed from the bridge, to make way for the cycle lane.
“That bridge used to be part of my daily commute, and it didn’t seem, even at rush hour, that it could be justified to have three lanes leading into two,” he said.
The bridge is a constraint, said Corrigan, but Dublin City Council intends to maintain the segregation of the cycle lane across the bridge.
“The most likely outcome is that one lane would be removed, but that’s not confirmed at this stage,” he said.
A temporary measure will be introduced at the end of this year, said Corrigan.
The “long, slow rise” hill up Bridgefoot Street after the bridge was raised by Tina MacVeigh, a People Before Profit councillor, and Máire Devine, a Sinn Féin councillor.
They asked whether the cycle lane could be continued up Bridgefoot Street, as cyclists struggle to make drivers aware of them between the lanes.
Independent Councillor Mannix Flynn said he was concerned that cycle plans were being rolled in in a “salami slice” manner, with “no overall coherence”, and that residents of local areas were being surprised by new infrastructure without warning.
Flynn requested a full presentation from Dublin City Council’s chief executive on proposed cycling infrastructure for the city.
Said Devine: “I have to take issue with Councillor Flynn there. We can’t get infrastructure done in one big swoop. We have to start somewhere.”
Council chief executive Owen Keegan said he was in favour of putting in infrastructure bit by bit “salami-slicing, piece by piece – it’ll all add up to a network”, he said.