Give me a crash course in ... cycle path opposition

It mostly stems from proposals to reallocate road space – used by cars – for cyclists

A cyclist on Strand Road, Sandymount. The High Court ruled the cycleway would have to go through the planning process. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell

A cyclist on Strand Road, Sandymount. The High Court ruled the cycleway would have to go through the planning process. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell

 

Plans for cycle paths are now being determined by the High Court, how did that happen?

Earlier this year Independent Dublin city councillor Mannix Flynn and Sandymount resident Peter Carvill got the ball rolling with a High Court action against Dublin City Council’s decision to install a cycle path on Strand Road in Sandymount. Essentially, their position was that the council needed planning permission for the cycle path, whereas the council felt it could use its existing powers. Mr Justice Charles Meenan agreed with Mr Carvill and Mr Flynn and ruled the cycleway would have to go through the planning process.

So is that the end of the Sandymount path?

Not necessarily, the council is appealing Judge Meenan’s decision.

Why is the council appealing, why not just apply for permission?

Well, it could do, but the council feels the ruling could have implications beyond Sandymount, or as chief executive Owen Keegan put it, “devastating consequences” for the development of cycling infrastructure with the potential that even “modest” interventions to protect cyclists would incur significant costs, delays and workload.

That sounds quite dramatic, but is there any real risk to other planned schemes? Maybe the Sandymount path was just a Sandymount issue?

Two weeks ago Cllr Flynn predicted there would be a “vast number of cases”, and his prophesy might be starting to materialise. Businesses in Deansgrange are preparing legal action against Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council’s plans for a cycle route in Deansgrange Village and they have specifically cited the success of the case against the Sandymount path.

Why are people so down on cycle paths? Protecting cyclists from traffic seems fairly benign?

For the most part, there is little fuss over the installation of cycle paths. Local authorities have been creating cycle facilities, of admittedly variable quality, for years using their own powers, with no great clamour for them to seek planning permission.

However, the opposition mostly stems from proposals to reallocate road space, currently used by cars, for cyclists. This is the case in both the Sandymount and Deansgrange projects where traffic would be restricted to a one-way system to facilitate a two-lane cycle path. In both cases, those against argued that, in addition to sending traffic around the houses, it would push more cars into residential areas.

The Deansgrange Village Business group also cited a potential loss of jobs, with access to businesses restricted. The local authorities said they need to create safe facilities for cyclists, both to protect those currently on the roads and to encourage more people to cycle. They have also suggested a range of mitigation measures to discourage “rat running” in residential areas.

Will there be more challenges?

Well if the sage Mr Flynn is right, there will be. Back in the city area, Ballsbridge businesses are not happy about plans to requisition parking spaces for a cycle path. The plan is part of the National Transport Authority’s BusConnects programme, rather than a specific local authority cycle lane project, and no one has, yet, suggested legal action.

There is also some unhappiness about the introduction of protected cycle lanes on Griffith Avenue. There might be more. A lot could rest on the success or otherwise of the city council’s appeal in Sandymount.

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