Wednesday 21 August 2019

Founder of Dublin commuter group 'steps back' after 'hate and rumours' arising from debate on BusConnects plan

Bus Connects involves the creation of 230km of dedicated bus lanes, as well as 200km of cycle routes. Photo:
Bus Connects involves the creation of 230km of dedicated bus lanes, as well as 200km of cycle routes. Photo:

Gabija Gataveckaite

The chairperson of a Dublin commuters' group has had to "step back" from the role after the "hate and rumours" over the BusConnects plan.

The Dublin Commuter Coalition - a volunteer group which advocates for commuters - has strongly condemned the online hate and criticism received by its founder and acting chairperson Kevin Carter.

The group has found itself caught in the eye of a social media storm,  with the group harshly criticised and accused of working with the National Transport Authority (NTA).

The group also received a lot of criticism for their stance on tree felling to widen roads in certain parts of Dublin.

The coalition told that Mr Carter has taken a step back from the group after the "hate and rumours" directed at him escalated after his appearance on RTE's 'Prime Time' programme on Tuesday night.

“This has had a significant impact on Kevin's mental health. It is an attempt to demean his credibility and we reject attempts to do so,” the coalition said.

Under the BusConnects proposals, a number of trees across of Dublin will have to be felled in order to make space for extra bus lanes and/or cycle lanes. These proposals have attracted some controversy, with some communities making clear to the NTA their opposition to such plans.

Several hundred Dublin residents could also lose a portion of their garden space to facilitate the widening of roads. This has also attracted some controversy.

After the 'Prime Time' programme aired, the group issued a statement reiterating their position of the felling of trees.

“Attempts to keep trees by squeezing space for pedestrians and cyclists is a backwards approach,” a statement released by the group after the show aired read. 

“Pedestrians and cyclists deserve more space than currently and attempts to further reduce their allocation of road space should be harshly rejected, the first casualty should always be the private motor vehicle,” it added.

“We would advise that in the detailed design staged plans that include the allocation of trees be protected as unquestionable elements of the design.”

Mr Carter made the decision to step back from the group yesterday after receiving personal criticism on the group's Twitter account, which he manages. He was accused of working with the NTA as he designed several maps last year in order to help the public understand the plans more clearly.

According to the coalition, the NTA then went on to contact Mr Carter and commissioned him to create the remaining five maps.

Mr Carter then got involved in campaigning for “better public transport in the Dublin region” and went on to set up the Dublin Commuter Coalition group.

The advocacy group has now strongly condemned the backlash Mr Carter received.

“But he is being repeatedly and falsely accused of being an NTA employee or contractor and therefore biased or only wanting the project to proceed so that he may gain from it financially. This has been happening for months and following his appearance on Prime Time it escalated,” the group stated.

The group said that it stands behind Mr Carter.

“Kevin has done incredible work in setting up Dublin Commuter Coalition,” a statement from the group to read.

“He has put his heart and soul into this group to help further its aim of making Dublin a better place to live and work through the advocation of sustainable transport and improvements in the public realm,” the statement added.

The group added that Mr Carter hopes to return to the coalition.

“Kevin has taken a step back from the public side of the Coalition for the time being while he focuses on his health, but hopes to return at a later date, as being part of Dublin Commuter Coalition is something he loves.

Dublin Commuter Coalition is a group which advocates for “pedestrians cyclists and public transport users across the Dublin Region”.

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