No contact on Blackrock cycle way, say unimpressed locals

by Gary Ibbotson

South Dublin locals have hit out at the local authority claiming a hastily planned cycle way is making life more difficult.

The 4km bike route from Dun Laoghaire to Blackrock was constructed in less than eight weeks by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council after a report revealed a 100% increase in cyclist numbers.

However, the swift construction of the route has drawn criticism from some, saying that public consultation was sacrificed for a speedier development.

Stillorgan Cllr Maeve O’Connell (FG) told Dublin Gazette: “Over 70 projects are ongoing within Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown. My concern is that there is a lack of public consultation, if any.

“Councillors were merely informed these things were taking place but not given the opportunity to discuss the projects or have an input in the design. There has also been a lack of tendering processes too.”

Around €20m is being spent on these projects with much of it “being spent with very little oversight and very little transparency and that’s my concern,” according to Cllr O’Connell.

Cllr Dave Quinn has said that, contrary to Cllr O’Connell’s comments, “DLR Councillors were not advised that traffic would ‘disappear'”.

Speaking to Dublin Gazette, Cllr Quinn said: “I believe that we should welcome DLRCoCo’s innovation and initiative in its trial Seapoint-to-Sandycove cycleway.

Covid-19 brought a huge number of challenges to everyone, in every aspect of our lives. DLR’s early response to the crisis in May included temporary widening of footpaths in Dalkey, Glasthule and Blackrock.

Blackrock’s one-way scheme was developed very shortly after that, and this was done in consultation with the Blackrock Business Network.

“The level of public consultation in this and the more extensive Seapoint-to-Sandyycove 2-way cycleway was made more difficult, given the restrictions on movement, meetings and social interactions. However, the Council promoted its “ReportIT” online submission option for residents and businesses to register their comments, complaints or requests to the Council.

“Contrary to Cllr. O’Connell’s recent comments, DLR Councillors were not advised that traffic would “disappear”. Instead, we were told that traffic would be displaced, and that efforts would be made to manage that, with signage, traffic light sequence changes and other measures to minimise diversions into residential areas.

“The trial or temporary nature of the cycleway means that the Phase 2 Consultation Phase that is due to start on 28th September will allow residents and other stakeholders to base their views and comments on the actual live trial, and not an imagined, paper-based report.

“I have no doubt that strong cases will be made for changes to the scheme. In particular, access to the disabled car park spaces including Seapoint Avenue needs to be modified to ensure safety is not compromised. Other instances where access to residents’ off-street parking has been compromised also needs attention.

“Parking spaces for visitors to Sandycove is another problem that existed before Covid-19 and is an even greater challenge now. But some consultation has taken place, Councillors have been well briefed on a regular basis and the wider consultation phase is about to begin when these and all other issues can be raised and discussed.

“Covid-19 has brought many challenges, and I support DLR’s initiative in placing safety and mobility as the top priorities in key roadways in the county.”

Sporting organisations have also raised concerns about the lack of public consultation.

The Curragh Sub Aqua Club (CSAC) and Sandycove Kayakers’ clubhouse is located on Sandycove Avenue, where the cycle route runs.

Peadar Farl, ex-chairperson of CSAC says the introduction of the cycle lanes has made it a lot more difficult for club members to access the clubhouse and bring in their heavy gear.

“We can have 30 attendees who mostly travel a distance. From Monaghan to Wicklow,” he said. “There is nowhere near to park, we will just have to compete with all the rest on the local roads up the hill.

“The Sandycove Kayakers have exactly the same problems, they cannot stop even to offload kayaks.”

Farl said the club was not asked to answer a survey or submit an opinion on the cycle way before it was developed.

“No contact whatsoever about the cycle way from the council,” he said. “We chased local councillors and they helped up set up a meeting with the road engineer who designed it. He says that it cannot be changed.”

Although Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council executives says that traffic in the area will drastically decrease with the implementation of the cycle lanes, O’Connell said proper traffic modelling has not commenced.

When asked about the lack of models, the council said that it did not “have the time,” to do them.

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