A west Dublin primary school is appealing to two local authorities and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan to urgently install safe cycling infrastructure ahead of its reopening.
Parents and the principal at Riverview Educate Together in Dublin 12 say there are no segregated cycle paths on any of the roads approaching the school, with many children aged four to eight having to cycle through the notoriously busy Walkinstown Roundabout while travelling there.
For six months prior to the school closures a group of parents had cycled with their children from Iveagh Gardens off the Crumlin Road to the school on Limekiln Road every Friday using the “bike bus” system. This works by having a designated route with “bus stops” where parents and children can join the convoy.
Aodhán King, who cycles with his son Mattie (7), says the “D12 Bike Bus” route could be reduced from 5km to just over 3km if safe infrastructure was provided.
“The most direct route is through Crumlin Village, but it isn’t safe, with no space allocated to cyclists,” he said. “Going through the Walkinstown Roundabout takes us almost 2km out of the way. It doesn’t have any segregated cycling paths either, but it’s wide enough that the parents can cycle beside the children and provide a buffer.”
While the majority of drivers pass safely, Mr King said, the experience remains daunting.
“You do get a number of close passes and cars flying past at speed, but a lot of the problems could be solved if there were appropriate segregated cycling infrastructure and lead times for cyclists at junctions.”
The removal of “kissing gates” from local parks, which force cyclists to dismount and cannot be accessed by some types of bike, would also help cycling access to the school, he said.
While Riverview is in the South Dublin County Council area, many of the approach roads originate in the Dublin City Council area, which has caused difficulties in persuading either local authority to "take ownership" of the issue, says Roisín Kelly, who cycles to school with Sadhbh (8).
“We have engaged with both councils and they have been positive, but we are now seeing another September coming around and we haven’t had any change.”
School principal Margaret Burke has written to Mr Ryan, the Green Party leader, to highlight the urgency of the school’s needs.
“So much of the Covid advice we are getting is around active travel and the need to walk and cycle to school,” she said, adding that the installation of segregated cycling in Dublin 12 would benefit not only Riverview but up to 10 other schools in the area.
“At the moment it feels like an act of bravery to cycle to school. With safe infrastructure it wouldn’t feel like that.”
The city council said it had assessed the route and “will be implementing all possible interventions to improve safety”.
South Dublin County Council said cycling infrastructure improvements in the vicinity of the school were planned, and public consultation would begin in the final quarter of this year.
“Due to statutory obligations projects are planned by South Dublin County Council years in advance of construction occurring.”
It said the D12 Bike Bus route from the border with the city council area “will be considered as a future scheme”.