Plans for a network of cycle routes across south east Dublin remain suspended amid concerns about legal action against the introduction of a one-way traffic system in Deansgrange.
Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council officials last month deferred the Active School Travel programme which involved the development of 25km of dedicated cycle tracks along three separate routes linking 65 schools. The decision was taken to avoid a vote on a motion at last month’s council meeting which could have blocked a six month trial of the cycle routes.
Council officials agreed at that time to undertake further consultation on the controversial Deansgrange section of the routes. A number of businesses and residents have objected to plans banning northbound traffic on Deansgrange Road for a distance of just under 1km.
Councillors Shay Brennan (Fianna Fail), Séafra Ó Faoláin (Green) and Martha Fanning (Labour) at Monday’s council meeting tabled a motion instructing the officials to “immediately recommence work on the Active School Travel programme”.
Mr Brennan said “the safety of thousands of school children” was at stake and delays to the project would leave them without protection for another school year.
Mr Ó Faoláin said there had already been extensive public consultation on the programme and 63 per cent of respondents had been in favour of the trial. He said 10 different options for the Deansgrange section had been explored but there were “no viable alternatives to the one way system”.
Ms Fanning said the delays would mean “children will spend another winter cycling to and from school in the dark”.
While the Green Party and a number of Labour councillors supported the motion to restart work, the majority of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael councillors did not.
Mary Hanafin (Fianna Fail) said “even though it is my party colleague who has put down this motion I won’t be supporting it”. She said she was in favour of safe cycling but “the only benefit in this motion would be to end the consultation for the sake of a couple of months’ delay”.
People Before Profit councillors also opposed the motion with Melisa Halpin saying she was “increasingly concerned at how traditional consultation has been bypassed under the guise of the Covid emergency”. She said while she was a cyclists she was “much relieved over the summer to see the results of the challenge to the Sandymount cycleway where the courts ruled you can’t pretend things are temporary that have a big intervention in your road network.”
Labour councillor Denis O’Callaghan said the issue had “divided the community” and there was “a need for healing”.
Council chief executive Tom McHugh said it was his advice that consultation on the Deansgrange section should continue and a report would be brought back to the councillors in December.
“We have been put on notice that there is a court action being threatened by a number of people if we decide to proceed,” he said. “If we peremptorily decide to proceed that might be seen by others, including the courts as not acting in a reasonable fashion.”
Councillors voted by 26 to 13 against Mr Brennan’s motion.