NTA’s Liffey cycle plan similar to one dismissed years ago
North and southside option discounted by Dublin City Council four years ago
Cyclists pass the Four Courts on the Dublin quays. A route for a long-awaited Liffey cycle path has been announced by the National Transport Authority. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/ The Irish Times
A little more than 18 months after the National Transport Authority (NTA) wrested control of the Liffey cycle project from Dublin City Council, with the promise it would be back “shortly” with a preferred route, it has come up with a solution largely the same as the one discounted four years ago.
In March 2015, after three years of planning, the council released four potential routes for the 5km cycle path for public consultation. Three of these involved a two-way cycle path on the north of the river, while the fourth proposed paths on the north and south quays.
The last option, while it would have been the easiest to implement, lagged far behind the winner in popularity stakes – one in six of the 1,200 respondents chose this option, while the most popular one secured almost half the public vote.
For the following two years, until the NTA stepped in and called a halt in September 2017, the council fixated solely on the option that came out on top in the public consultation process, despite repeated indications it was unworkable.
The option the public picked in 2015 involved keeping a continuous cycle path along the river and diverting traffic to Benburb Street beside the Luas line. The two other northside options involved a boardwalk over the Liffey at Ellis Quay, from the James Joyce Bridge, a narrow part of the route, or a frankly bizarre plan to relocate Croppies Acre Park in front of the National Museum at Collins Barracks, to the riverside.
The first problem with the preferred route emerged in August 2015 when the council admitted the diversion would send buses through an apartment block already under construction in Smithfield. Permission for the block had been granted in 2014.
Seven months after that, in May 2016, the council put forward an option of putting cyclists on the diverted section instead of the traffic, but the following October, the council’s traffic department said it had changed its mind because cyclists did not like the plan.
The next notion involved diverting cars from the quays for about 1.5km. They decided to have more public consultation. This found that a new group, the people living in the area through which cars would be diverted, did not like the plan. Business organisations were not keen either, because motorists would take longer to get into the city centre.
The council’s last option, proposed in May 2017, involved the construction of a boardwalk over the river on Ellis and Arran Quay, which its head of traffic, Brendan O’Brien, admitted at the time was a poor compromise.
The NTA has reassessed all the options, and has reverted to the north and south quays route.
This, they said, “recognises the need to maintain private car access to the core city centre”, but car parking would be “reassigned” in favour of pedestrians, cyclists and buses. This route will also involve the construction of a new boardwalk for pedestrians on the southside, it will be expensive, and will be subject to assessment of its impact on historic buildings, bridges and mature trees.
The NTA’s plan will not please everyone, but the council tried to do that for years, and ended up pleasing no one.