The council plans to install two new interim cycle routes in the east of the city this year.
One would run from Trinity College to Ballsbridge, and the other from Charlemont Street to Clonskeagh Road.
These versions of the walking and cycling routes would be temporary, said Niall Kinsella, a council senior executive engineer, at the Monday’s meeting of the council’s South East Area Committee. Permanent versions will come later, he said.
The permanent scheme for the Trinity College to Ballsbridge route has not been designed yet, he said, so there’s no date for it yet.
But designs for the Charlemont Street to Clonskeagh Road route were presented to the same committee in July, and include a permanent cycle lane segregated with kerbs, better paving and surfacing and junction upgrades, planned for 2024.
Both are links in the city’s plan for a connected fully segregated cycle network, some of which the council is implementing itself, and some of which is being delivered by the National Transport Authority under BusConnects, the bus network redesign.
High demand on these routes means that the interim schemes are needed for safety, said Kinsella.
While some councillors at the meeting said they were glad to see improvements, they raised issues on the need to remove parking spaces and loading bays along each route.
They also questioned the attractiveness of plastic bollards, which the council is using to speed up putting the schemes in, why there would not be footpath improvements, and how the routes would connect with other parts of the network.
“It allows somewhat of a trial for the more permanent project,” said Kinsella, of the Clonskeagh to city centre interim scheme.
Something Has to Give
Each route links in with other cycle network schemes, he said, like the Grand Canal cycle scheme or the Dodder River cycle scheme.
Trinity to Ballsbridge begins at the junction of Nassau Street and Dawson Street. It passes the north side of Merrion Square, where all 33 parking spaces would be removed, and electric vehicle chargers relocated.
Then, it crosses the canal, and ends at the United States Embassy on Northumberland Road.
Cyclists along the Trinity to Ballsbridge route would share 24 hour bus lanes for much of the route, said Kinsella.
The Clonskeagh to city centre route runs from Charlemont Street, through Ranelagh village and along Milltown Road until Clonskeagh Road.
“Of course something has to give, and that’s generally going to be parking,” said Kinsella.
Along the whole of the Clonskeagh to city centre route, more than 40 parking spaces would be removed, he said.
The main vehicle lanes would be narrowed, he said. “That serves to reduce traffic speeds along this section as well, which are high when there’s not heavy traffic on it.”
Artists who sell their paintings along Merrion Square on Sundays will be affected by the removal of parking spaces at Merrion Square, said James Geoghegan, a Fine Gael councillor.
“They’re very concerned, and it’s a major cultural offering for the city centre, it’s a way of getting people into a very quiet area on a Sunday,” he said.
Patients at the National Maternity Hospital could also be affected, he said, before the maternity section moves to the new children’s hospital in Rialto.
Claire Byrne, a Green Party councillor, said that schemes should be brave and bold. “We have to reduce our transport emissions. We don’t really have any choice.”
Ireland’s national Climate Action Plan aims to reduce transport emissions by 51 percent by 2030.
Along Ranelagh Road, before Ranelagh village, the plan is to remove 250 metres of bus lane, said Kinsella.
“It probably doesn’t provide a high level of service as bus lanes go, so that short length of it is what was decided to have the least impact, in order to allow us to get in this badly needed cycle infrastructure along this stretch,” he said.
In Ranelagh village, the disability parking will remain, but some regular spaces will be removed, he said.
Mary Freehill, a Labour Party councillor, said she would be worried that the village of Ranelagh is at risk, if the council removes parking spaces there.
Some people have to drive to Ranelagh from its east and west sides, she said, “who have no alternative because there is no public transport”.
“I wonder if there’s been much focus on the survival of an urban village,” she says, “and the impact that it would have on Ranelagh as an urban village.”
Kinsella said that bigger planning questions are outside the scope of the interim scheme. “We have a network of cycle routes that our brief is to deliver,” he said, but there is a strategic planning team in the active travel unit.
Freehill said there are not enough loading bays included in the scheme. Hazel Chu, a Green Party councillor, said that loading should be retained in the village in front of Tesco.
“That spot is constantly accident-prone, on the basis that cars can’t go two-by-two when buses are there,” she says, and when people are picking their food from Four Star Pizza.
Chu said businesses aren’t against the cycle lane, but they have an issue with losing loading spaces. “Is there provision to properly put in loading spaces in various side roads, so that it doesn’t infringe on the residents coming in and out of those side roads?”
Loading wouldn’t be reduced, said Kinsella. “We are hoping to slightly improve the loading facilities within the village of Ranelagh when the design is complete, and some of that will be slightly at the expense of parking spaces.”
For Those on Foot
Some councillors asked whether the council must use the black plastic bollards to segregate the scheme. They’re ugly and easily broken, they said.
Kinsella said using bollards makes it faster to roll out. “There’s nothing we can do about the unattractiveness of the bollards, other than to pick the most visually appealing ones available. But they’re our quick install solution at the moment.”
The permanent scheme would look better, he said.
Mannix Flynn, an independent councillor, said footpath improvements weren’t being considered enough. “We need to see these being involved in the project. Where are the pedestrian improvements, in terms of footpaths etc?”
Chu, the Green Party councillor, said there’s a need for wider footpaths on the east side of the Ranelagh Triangle, the junction at the centre of the village.
Kinsella said the scope of the interim project doesn’t allow for too much work on footpaths, as it’s low-budget. “The permanent scheme definitely goes a lot further towards path widths and quality.”
Claire Byrne, a Green Party councillor, asked how the route connected with the rest of the network in the city centre, particularly on Adelaide Road, and getting to Richmond Road.
Kinsella said connectivity is addressed in the Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network.
Dermot Lacey, a Labour Party councillor, asked whether there are plans for a cycle lane on Eglinton Road, as currently the plans show a gap in the infrastructure.
Kinsella said he wasn’t sure about the gap, but would raise it with the active travel strategic planning team. “I would say the network is sort of established at this stage, or decided on.”