Council failing to meet demand for cycle infrastructure, documents show

Correspondence shows frustration at lack of cycle paths and of cyclist behaviour in Dublin

Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Dublin City Council is failing to meet public demand for road repairs, extension of cycle pathways and general improvement of cycling infrastructure, according to documents released under a Freedom of Information request.

Correspondence between Dublin constituents and staff from Dublin City Council since 2015 reveals ongoing confusion, frustration and anger over poor cycle infrastructure in the capital city. Complaints over the speed of cyclists on Dublin roads and cycle lanes have also been raised in recent years.

One cyclist sent a series of photographs to the council of the numerous potholes he encounters on his journey home from work. He described the cracks and crevices dotted along the Northern Circular Road, Cabra Road and Dowth Avenue as “deadly”, “horrendous”, “appalling” and “never-ending”.

A younger constituent, who contacted the council in March 2016, wrote: “My family and I love cycling, to school, the park, anywhere really, but because there is no bike track, we have to cycle on the road. Please put them anywhere you can and thank you very much if you do because I think more than my family will be happy about this,” said the handwritten note.

Like the vast majority of constituents who have contacted the council about shortcomings in cycle infrastructure, the child was informed that the roll-out of the National Transport Agency (NTA) Cycle Network Plan for the greater Dublin area would improve the situation.

Cycle routes

Launched in 2013, the Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network Plan proposed a five-fold increase in cycle routes around Dublin and its surrounding counties. Nearly five years later, only a small number of these cycle routes have actually been built.

Another letter, dated December 2016, argued that cycle lanes “are not a private car park” and that drivers who leave their vehicles on designated cycle paths must be penalised. Another cyclist wrote that he is “very frustrated” by constantly having to dodge cars parked in cycle lanes on his journey home from work, while a letter in June 2016 complained of poorly-planned cycle routes intersecting with pedestrian pathways and causing danger to passers-by.

A series of emails dated between 2015 and 2017 request that more bike racks and railings be immediately introduced to ensure all cyclists can safely lock their bike without obstructing pathways.

While many of the letters released to The Irish Times under FOI come from concerned cyclists, a subset highlights the need for cyclists to slow down when using cycle lanes.

One woman repeatedly contacted the council after her toddler was nearly knocked from his tricycle by “a couple of very professionally dressed cyclists speeding down the bicycle path” between Dollymount and Sutton in north Dublin.

The woman called for speed restrictions on cyclists in the area, warning that something “urgently needs to be done”. The council responded that enforcing speeding limits on cyclists would be difficult as bikes have no speed measuring devices.

Another email originally sent to the Lord Mayor of Dublin in August 2017 attacked the council for its “disgraceful” failure in educating Dublinbikes users of the rules of the road. Dublinbikes is a self-service bike-rental system which uses docking stations located across the city.

“It is going to take a tragedy before something changes. What sort of city do we have when a 63-year-old man is threatened on a regular basis both by arrogant cyclists on the footpath and aggressive cyclists whose behaviour dare not be questioned?”

Research carried out last year found more than 95,000 people were using their bikes in the capital every day. The number of daily Dublinbikes users rose from 4,474 in 2010 to 16,285 in 2017.

Despite this notable rise in bike users, Government spending on cycling infrastructure dropped from €19 million in 2015 to just €7.5 million last year, less than 2 per cent of the Department of Transport’s capital budget.