A High Court decision that effectively quashed Dublin City Council’s plans for a quick-build two-way cycle track on the Strand Road in Sandymount, has received a mix reaction from politicians and campaigners.
In his judgement released today, High Court judge Mr Justice Charles Meenan ruled the cycleway will now have to go through the planning process if it is to proceed. The project envisaged turning what is currently a two-way vehicular stretch of road into a single outbound lane with the other lane used as a two-way cycle track.
Independent Dublin city councillor Mannix Flynn and local residents’ representative Peter Carvil mounted the court challenge, claiming the council was incorrect in asserting that the project did not need to go through the normal planning process because it was a traffic calming measure and that it didn’t require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
However, the judge disagreed with the council's argument that the cycleway was for a six-month trial period. What was involved went "beyond signs and certain road markings", he said.
Commenting on the decision, Mr Flynn said he was in favour of cycling as a means of transportation, but the proposed scheme by DCC was “simply bad planning and circumnavigated the planning process.”
“People didn’t want this model. This was completely and absolutely hare-brained,” he told Independent.ie last night. “The local authority was behaving like reckless developers.”
But former Dublin Lord Mayor Hazel Chu said: “I’m deeply disappointed at today’s decision to stop plans for this cycle route from going ahead. Now more than ever, we have an obligation to be bold if we are to face down climate change. The importance of providing safe, sustainable transport and a vision for Dublin where people of all ages and abilities choose to cycle as part of their everyday life cannot be underestimated.”
The Green Party councillor said the proposed cycleway would have enabled thousands of people to use cycling as a main mode of transport and that the proposed cycleway “would have been an overdue improvement on the current, very dangerous situation for people cycling on this stretch which is highly off-putting in its current form, particularly to those who are contemplating cycling, families with children, older people, people with disabilities, and novice cyclists.”
If approved, there were plans to link the Sandymount cycleway to two-way Coastal Mobility Route put in place in a similar fashion by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council from Blackrock to Sandycove under Covid mobility measures last year.
This would have meant an almost continuous protected cycleway running from Ringsend to Sandycove.
Transport, Climate and Environment Minister and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said: “We will assess today’s Strand Road decision and will work with local authorities to they can continue to promote better public health, enhance the local environment and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.”
Kevin Baker, chair of Dublin Cycling Campaign said: “We’re bitterly disappointed by this outcome. It is a lost opportunity to trial an amenity which would have enabled people of all ages and abilities to safely and comfortably cycle along the seafront on Strand Road.
“Strand Road is a vital missing link in a coastal cycle route around Dublin Bay. Dublin Cycling Campaign will continue to engage constructively with all stakeholders to find a safe and attractive cycling solution on Strand Road, which remains a hostile environment for anyone who wishes to cycle there.”
In a statement, the STC (Serpentine Ave, Tritonville and Claremont Roads) residents group welcomed the decision.
“The proposed scheme would have resulted in major changes to traffic patterns in the Sandymount and wider areas, eliminating north-bound vehicular traffic on Strand and Beach Road, with serious implications for residents, businesses, schools and sports clubs in the Dublin 4 vicinity,” it said.
“We now urge Dublin City Council to invest effort into putting in place an off-road cycle track of the type envisaged by the original S2S (Sutton to Sandycove) cycleway proposal which has been in existence for many years.
"An emergency motion was passed at the Dublin City Council South East Area meeting last January, calling on Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan to revive the 2015 plan to construct a cycle path on a boardwalk over the sea side of Strand Road in Sandymount. We call on DCC to do this.”
However, Social Democrats councillor Catherine Stocker said the council should appeal the High Court decision on the current quick-build proposal.
“The Social Democrats are strongly of the view that Dublin City Council needs to stay the course and appeal this decision. Strand Road is predicted to be below sea level by 2050. Opposition to measures that reduce carbon emissions is misguided and does a disservice to the local community,” she said.
“Moreover, this kind of safe, segregated infrastructure is vital to ensuring increased cycling uptake from women and children. The proportion of women who cycle in our city compared to men is only 27pc, according to the last census, and the numbers of children cycling to secondary school is now at only 2pc, according to information provided in recent months to the Oireachtas Climate Action Committee. Blocking the Strand Road cycle lane is a regressive move which ill serves our city.
Queries to Dublin City Council about how it now intends to proceed went unanswered this evening.