Statement from Cllr Jane Horgan Jones re Fairview Cycle Track
The following is a statement from Cllr. Jane Horgan Jones in relation to the Clontarf to City Centre Cycle Route. To respond to Cllr. Horgan Jone's statement please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I supported the Part 8 for the Clontarf to Amiens St Cycleway on 2nd October and I think the compromise solution offered by DCC was the best available if we want to provide high quality and safe infrastructure for cyclists in the city that is badly needed.
I am not a cyclist myself – I drive to work every day out of necessity, and very often use the route through Fairview. I am aware that congestion is an issue at peak times and I can absolutely appreciate people’s concern. However, I would make the following points:
I don’t accept, as some people have suggested, that the existing cycle facilities between Clontarf and the city centre are “perfectly good.” They are badly in need of improvement from a safety perspective. A safer, better quality, high speed commuting cycle route will encourage and incentivise people to cycle with all the associated benefits this has for health, the environment, and traffic congestion. It’s counter intuitive to an extent if it involves the removal of a section of general carriageway, but improving cycling infrastructure in a city, on a long term basis, should eventually have an overall positive effect on traffic congestion.
The relationship between quality cycling infrastructure and the number of people cycling in a city is very well evidenced. Investment in cycling infrastructure in Dublin (e.g. the Grand Canal Cycle Route which opened in 2012 – and also attracted some objections at the time) has increased the number of people choosing to cycle to work by 43% between 2011 and 2016 (Census 2016). This trend has been continuous over the last 20 years. Provision has to be made on our roads for the increasing number people cycling, as there is no reason to think this trend won’t continue.
There is limited road space available to achieve a high quality commuter cycleway along this route. Once the tree removal option was ruled out, the space had to be taken from somewhere else. The only other option, aside from the removal of 298m of inbound general traffic lane, was the removal of all the on-street loading and parking for businesses on the village side.
The key consideration for any scheme along this route is that the new cycleway must cater for outbound cyclists as well as inbound cyclists. The NTA have stipulated that a project such as this needs to cater equally for both inbound and outbound cyclists in order to receive funding, which I think is appropriate – all of this is public money.
The Part 8 passed on 2nd October provides for an upgraded outbound cycle route on the village side of Fairview, and an upgraded inbound cycle route on the park side of Fairview.
The alternative solutio now being proposed, as I understand it, appears to be to route the new inbound cycle lane through the park, and make no changes whatsoever to the outbound cycle lane on the business side of the road (i.e. do not widen it, do not raise its level from the roadway where possible, do not increase clearance space for parked cars etc). This solution isn’t good enough for me – the existing narrow lane, painted onto the road, simply isn’t safe enough for cyclists. In addition, it doesn’t fulfil the NTA funding requirements regarding catering for outbound cyclists.
It also isn’t possible to put both the inbound and the outbound routes on the park side of the road, or through the park, because this would require cyclists travelling outbound to cross multiple lanes of traffic twice in order to get back to the right side of the road for accessing the Howth and Malahide Roads (where 80% of cyclists using this route are going, according to the data.) The NTA have explicitly said that they won’t fund this option, as the net result would most likely be that outbound cyclists would not use the new cycleway at all, and would stay on the main road mixing with other traffic. In addition, the new signalling system this would require would likely create traffic delays of its own – so it’s not straightforward.
I can’t support any proposals that, for the above reasons, would result in no funding, and no upgrading of the cycling facilities between Clontarf and Amiens St at all. I think the minimum requirements for funding stipulated by the NTA are reasonable – after all, there is €7.5m of public money at stake here. I want to see a safe, high quality cycleway linking all parts of the north east of the city and the city centre. Hopefully this is one step towards achieving that goal.
I appreciate that people are trying to find solutions, but unfortunately, some of the information on alternatives being circulated to residents is at best incomplete and at worst, misleading in terms of what is actually possible.
Local representatives who are suggesting alternatives should be asked to indicate if their solutions would qualify for NTA funding, and to outline how their proposals would create a safe and usable route for the outbound cyclist in particular.
I can fully appreciate that people have concerns, and it’s inevitable that competing interests have to be balanced for a scheme like this. I think the compromise option is the best one available to us. Having a city that works for all road users is a long term project and one we haven’t completed yet, but quality and safe cycling infrastructure has to be one part of that project.