The installation of a cyclepath in Ballsbridge, Dublin, which would result in the relocation of six parking spaces on Merrion Road, would "destroy" the village and have a "devastating effect" on businesses, a local traders' group has said.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) is planning a segregated cyclepath through Ballsbridge as part of the bus corridor from UCD to the city centre under the BusConnects programme.
Traders with businesses operating on a stretch from numbers 2 to 18 Merrion Road claim the “imposition of unworkable cycle lanes to the detriment of drivers” is “ageist”.
However, NTA deputy chief executive Hugh Creegan said he did not accept the plan would destroy Ballsbridge and that the project would result in the net loss of just one parking space.
The traders’ group – representing pub, restaurants and retail businesses as well as a pharmacy and a solicitor – wrote to city councillors two months ago seeking that they “pass a priority motion to request BusConnects to cease work on this plan”. It called for direct engagement with local businesses and residents “for the benefit of all citizens and not just a vociferous cycle lobby”.
Local councillors Dermot Lacey (Labour) and James Geoghegan and Paddy McCartan (both Fine Gael) subsequently tabled an emergency motion undertaking to write to the NTA "in support of the Ballsbridge traders' concerns" about "possible significant changes to public spaces outside of their premises". The motion was agreed by South East Area councillors without debate.
The traders object to the removal of six of nine parking/loading spaces, including a disabled parking space, and the placement of a cyclepath between the remaining spaces and footpath.
While the group says many of its members were avid cyclists, its letter adds that it believes “the imposition of unworkable cycle lanes to the detriment of drivers, especially disabled drivers who require parking in front of our premises, is ageism”.
“The idea of placing a cycle lane running inside the parking spaces and loading bays will represent an even greater danger to cyclists.”
The group said the proposals would cause “total havoc with deliveries” and present major health and safety issues for suppliers and businesses. It said the plan would also “seriously reduce and obstruct the area required for emergency and fire safety control”.
In response to the councillors’ letter, Mr Creegan said the disabled parking space was being retained but relocated and while five general parking spaces were being removed, “four additional parking spaces are being provided on Ballsbridge Park, just around the corner from the existing locations”.
In relation to positioning the cyclepath between parked cars and the footpath, Mr Creegan said: “In fact, it is the alternative arrangement that is more dangerous for cyclists, where a segregated cycle track has to be terminated along a parking area in order to allow cars to pass over the cycling lane to access the parking area.”
He added that the proposed layout did “not diminish the safety of the adjacent premises in any way”.
“Clearly, we do not agree with the proposition that the proposals would ‘destroy’ the Ballsbridge centre area and do not consider that it would be appropriate to cease work on the BusConnects proposals.”
Mr Creegan has offered to arrange a meeting with the traders about the matter.