I understand from residents materially affected by the proposals that they did not receive a leaflet explaining the proposals until 6th October, seven working days later. This is not good enough, surely all the information should have been ready when the public consultation was announced. I accept that the closing date for submissions has been extended to the 5th November when this became known, otherwise the consultation period would have been very short.
During the briefing sessions for councillors prior to the routes being made public, we were advised that 1,700 leaflets would be distributed within the County to households. I did remark at the time that I felt that this was an inadequate number. The Council could have erected posters on the line of the routes highlighting the proposals. As it turned out most people became aware of the proposals from social media, neighbours, their Residents’ Association, cycling groups etc.
I believe that using the name Active School Travel was very misleading as it masked the fact that there are substantial changes to traffic patterns that are contained in the detail of the proposals. Unless you have school going children you might not have picked up on the proposals. I also believe that the premise that the proposals are promoting walking and cycling routes is a fallacy given that the proposals are almost entirely cycling initiatives, with the exception of a welcome pedestrian crossing on Newtownpark Avenue. As a walker the routes needlessly go around the houses to get from A to B.
Older residents (over 55 years) in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown make up 27% of the population of this County according to the 2016 census. An online public consultation can be quite a challenge for these residents who may not have access to the internet. Relying on online plus a paltry number of leaflets was unfair on older people and those without access to the internet. In my opinion a wider area should have been covered with a leaflet drop.
The quality of the information produced was sloppy with place names spelt incorrectly, the maps were very difficult to read with no legible road names. The detailed images such as the Avoca Avenue image were poorly labelled so that most people did not know what they were looking at. The image included for Deansgrange was the same one used when the two-way cycle lanes was on the opposite side to the cemetery before it was changed in the final draft.
The consultation hub questionnaire was flawed as it did not require the name and address as mandatory fields so that submissions from non-residents could be clearly identified.
I do not feel that enough thought was given to the fact that older people who rely on their car would be discommoded by younger people and young families, unfortunately this has pitted one against the other. Cycling is not a realistic option for many people due to health, age or weather conditions.
I do not think that the concerns of the business community in Blackrock or Deansgrange were considered when these proposals were being drawn up. Each of these business centres requires ease of access and egress for their customers.
Finally, too many times have I heard both Council and Romboll staff react to questions from very concerned residents with flippant remarks and a cocky assurance that they had right on their side and a pocket full of money to do whatever they wished. This was deeply upsetting for people who just want to live their lives and get on with their business without interference from DLR. The three routes have the appearance of a desktop design without local knowledge or a willingness to listen to those with local knowledge. I haven’t met a single person who is against safe infrastructure for cyclists but closing roads, breaching walls between estates, endangering cyclists by routeing them down roads used by large trucks is not the way to achieve a safer cycling environment.
Sea to Mountains Route
- George’s Avenue
The insertion of a contra flow cycle lane on the section of George’s Ave from Main Street, Blackrock to Frescati Road, incorrectly spelt as Frascati on the leaflet. This road is currently one way from Main Street to Frescati Road. It is the main access route for trucks delivering to the SuperValu yard off this road. I do not believe there is adequate space at the Main Street end to install this contra flow, I believe the safety of cyclist will be compromised. Unfortunately, we had a fatality in Blackrock a number of years ago involving a cyclist and a large delivery truck which was turning. No one would like to see this happen again.
- Avoca Ave
- This road is an artery road for vast areas of Blackrock and closing it to through traffic will cause mayhem to traffic flows and will permanently cut off cars and their occupants from easy access to Carysfort school, the tennis clubs, their village of Blackrock etc. No logic has been offered by the Council to justify this intervention. I asked if a Traffic Impact Study had been done and was told “modelling traffic impacts are not reliable in the current climate given the changing patterns of movement. What is proposed is that we monitor traffic patterns using the TomTom data and react to any changes as necessary.” As a Council we would insist on any application by a developer who wishes to make such a dramatic change to traffic flow, that it would be accompanied by a Traffic Impact document. I do not believe anyone understood the TomTom data or heat maps produced by Romboll.
- I use this road frequently and I have not witnessed speeding, nor do I think it has a traffic problem. It is part of the road network in Blackrock.
- It seriously worries me that the Council would use emergency powers to block through traffic on this road. I thought that permanent road closures had to come before the elected members for approval.
- Have the Gardaí been consulted on this road closure to through vehicular traffic? I hear that they are not in favour.
- What impact will this closure have on the emergency services? Surely it will add additional time to call outs.
- Residents living on one side of the divide will not have easy access to the N11 and M50.
- Local traffic will have to re-route through Sydney Terrace, Green Road and Waltham Terrace to access Mount Merrion Avenue or alternatively use Anglesea Avenue and Sydney Avenue. All these roads are very narrow and not suitable for taking additional traffic.
In a recent traffic survey conducted by Carysfort NS, 27 families of the 202 responses come from the Avoca Avenue side. So, unless they walk or cycle they will have to either access the school by Mount Merrion Avenue and local narrow roads or Stillorgan Park/Carysfort Avenue. This will add considerable travel time for these families.
- The Avoca Park Residents’ Association conducted a survey of their 116 homes. They received 102 replies, of which 90% were against the road closure.
- The divide will cause increased travel times for residents combined with an increased carbon footprint for all these needless detours.
Please do not implement this disastrous proposal.
- Junction of Grove Avenue and Avoca Avenue
- This crossroads junction is probably the most dangerous junction in my electoral ward. None of the four arms of this junction are aligned.
- Drivers have to inch their way out so as to progress through the junction as sightlines are very poor.
- This is not a junction for a novice cyclist.
Final comments about the section of Sea to Mountains route through the Blackrock Ward.
An alternative route for cyclist could be as follows: –
After leaving Bath Place in Blackrock turn right onto the new contra flow cycle lane on Main Street leading to Rock Hill and the junction with Frescati Road. Turn right then left into Mount Merrion Avenue. This road already has extensive cycle lanes and continue up Mount Merrion Avenue until reaching the N11.This route would provide good access to Sion Hill, Blackrock College, Booterstown NS to name just a few local schools.
Park to Park Route
- The route suggests that cyclists go from Convent Road across Carysfort Ave into Brookfield Terrace where there is a busy builders’ providers. There is a constant flow of trucks making deliveries, reversing around the junctions etc I do not believe this is a safe environment for cyclists. During a briefing on the routes before they were published to the public I gave this feedback and suggested an alternative route where these cyclists would turn right at Convent Road up the new cycle tracks on Carysfort Avenue and using the new pedestrian crossing near Avondale Lawn ( my own road) cross into Avondale Lawn, then onto Avondale Court and into Rockfield Park.
- Section 3 of this route suggests that “from here it is proposed to extend the protected cycle track to Mount Albany”. So is it suggesting adding additional cycle tracks to both sides of Newtownpark Avenue or just one side, this is not clear and I am not sure there is the room to do this. My second issue with this is that cyclists on Newtownpark Avenue will have ridden past the perfectly good off road cycle tracks on Benamore Road (not Rowanbyrn as listed in the leaflet) so as to cycle uphill to reach Mount Albany, which is just daft.
- Mount Albany is a quiet residential estate with a mix of older residents and young families. Most households reverse out onto the road to exit their driveways. This practice will not be favourable to passing cyclists. Mount Albany also suffers from parking issues associated with people attending the local football and tennis clubs. This parking narrows the roadway considerably. The residents are very against the proposed suggested changes to the end of their cul de sac where the gateway inserted many years ago to stop motorcyclists will be removed. This was not highlighted in the leaflet but has been widely talked about.
I am not in favour of the proposals for Deansgrange Road to be made one way for vehicular traffic to accommodate a two-way cycle lane.
- No traffic impact assessment was done for this route, I asked. So how can the Council justify these dramatic changes. No one understands where the displaced traffic will go other than to clog up nearby roads.
- Estates such as St Fintan’s will become very congested with vehicles trying to leave the estate onto Abbey Road.
- Existing bus routes will only go one way with quite a walk for customers to Abbey Road to pick up their bus.
- Foxrock Avenue and Holly Park Avenue will be subject to rat running for those wishing to go from Kill Lane to Newtownpark Avenue. These roads cannot sustain this additional traffic.
- Existing businesses on Deansgrange Road will be affected by the one way vehicular traffic flow.
- Businesses in Deansgrange village will suffer traffic congestion which will put off customers.
Mountains to Metals Route
In the FAQ document from DLR released on 15th October it states “We are proposing a contraflow cycle lane to link Belmont Green to the signal crossing at Stillorgan Road (N11). Informal parking will be removed, parking spaces will be unaffected.” Unfortunately, the leaflet on the route does not mention the contraflow cycle lane or the removal of parking. I believe this was an oversight and should not have happened. I have to admit I am really confused as to the route for cyclists who cross the N11 at the pedestrian crossing, is it intended that they join the existing cycle track on the N11 and then cut through the gap in the hedge opposite the entrance to Belmont Green? Where is the contra flow cycle lane going? How many parking spaces are being removed? Parking is important for the local businesses including the pub and nursing home.
Belmont estate has only one entrance onto Belmont Terrace. Currently the residents enjoy the security of their estate and green without any through traffic except their own residents.
- The green is very well used by the 55 children under 16 years that live nearby. Breaking open the wall between Belmont Green and Ardagh Crescent will permanently disrupt the secure use of the open space by these young children and will provide a second route out of their estate which might lead to burglaries and anti-social behaviour.
- It is unclear if DLR have ownership of or the authority to knock down the wall.
- The green provides a space for social integration among residents, this sense of place will be interrupted by the proposal.
- I do not think that the Council have demonstrated where the demand for such a route will come from, particularly as no schools are served by this link.
- I do not believe that residents welcome this change to their estate.
This road has an extremely narrow roadway that runs downhill and takes a sharp turn before joining the rest of the Ardagh estate.
- Many residents park on the roadway which further narrows the road width.
- I do not believe that residents welcome this change to their road.
In conclusion I am concerned that the design of the 3 cycling routes has been a desk top exercise for someone rather than a walk/cycle the ground exercise. I have represented the Blackrock Ward for over 16 years and in that time no single issue has generated such overwhelming opposition from local residents. I believe that most people understand the need to reallocate the road space for safe cycling routes. Blackrock residents have already seen our town become one way for vehicular traffic to accommodate new cycle tracks, also new cycle tracks on Seapoint Avenue, Newtownpark Avenue and Carysfort Avenue.
Some of the proposals in these new routes are unsafe for cyclist whilst others will separate communities from the facilities and town they are used to using. Justification for some of the proposals in some cases is scant at best and illogical in others. I would ask that before any trial takes place that the numerous submissions made by local residents be taken into account.