Council should not appeal rejection of cycleway, Dermot Lacey says

Talks with community could solve Sandymount impasse, claims Labour councillor

A cycleway for the Strand Road has been rejected: “A lot of cycle campaigners are not pro-cycling, they are anti-car,” says Dermot Lacey. “Being motivated by being against things never works.” Photograph: Crispin Rodwell

Dublin City Council should not appeal the High Court's rejection of plans for a two-lane cycleway for the Strand Road in Sandymount, a local Labour councillor has said.

Mr Justice Charles Meenan last week ruled that the proposed cycleway would have to go through the planning process if it is to proceed following a challenge taken by independent councillor Mannix Flynn and Sandymount resident Peter Carvill.

Council chief executive Owen Keegan said the court's ruling could have "devastating consequences" for the development of cycling infrastructure in the city.

The proposal would have seen a lane of traffic on the coastal road replaced with a cyclepath for a six-month trial, but the judge held that this required planning permission.


Mr Keegan said the council would have to appeal the ruling. He said the possibility that any infrastructure to protect cyclists on the roads would require a planning application would be “an enormous hurdle” and would have “significant implications for the rest of our cycling programme”.

However, Labour councillor Dermot Lacey, who represents the Sandymount area, said Mr Keegan should not appeal the decision.

“He didn’t have the courtesy to come back to the area councillors and seek our opinion on whether or not this should be appealed,” he said.

Cycling projects

Mr Lacey said he did not believe it was necessary for Mr Keegan to appeal the decision to protect other cycling projects from court actions.

“I don’t believe that at all. If he wants to do something he just had to apply for planning permission but above all we should just sit down and talk to each other.”

Mr Lacey said he believed a solution to the Sandymount path could be found through talks with the local community.

“This was never about the cycleway. I don’t know anybody who opposed a cycleway here, but it was always meant to be inside the promenade not on the road. That has been the plan for the last 20-odd years.”

Mr Lacey said he cycles “every day of the week” but had been painted as anti-cycling by some campaigners.

“A lot of cycle campaigners are not pro-cycling, they are anti-car. Being motivated by being against things never works.”

Creating a trial route, which would not require the removal of a lane of traffic, was possible, he said.

‘Short stretch’

This route would involve a "short stretch" where the cycle path was on the existing footpath and another, where cyclists would share the road with cars near the Merrion gates.

“This thing ending up in the courts was an absolute failure of local government,” he added. “I think we should have a serious discussion over the next six months and I would absolutely pledge to work my guts out to get something we can agree on.”

Green Party councillor Hazel Chu, who as lord mayor chaired a consultative community forum on the cyclepath, said it had not been possible to achieve a resolution on Strand Road.

“We really tried to find a solution everyone would be happy with, but it just wasn’t possible,” she said. “I think you could spend another year at it, but all that would achieve is more time going by without providing a solution for safe cycling on Strand Road.”

The difficulty with the forum was that some participants were approaching it from an entirely negative point of view, she said.

“The stance was ‘we don’t want this to happen, and how can we stop it from happening’ rather than how do we find solutions to particular issues.”

Ms Chu said she supported Mr Keegan in his decision to appeal the court’s ruling.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times