There’s still bits of work left to do on the leg of the Royal Canal Cycleway that’s currently under construction, said Brendan O’Brien, at last week’s meeting of Dublin City Council’s transport committee.
Among the jobs: finishing some of the cycleway and footpath, paving, landscaping, art works and a viewing plaza, said O’Brien, the council’s acting executive engineer for traffic.
But this second stage of the project is expected to be substantially completed in the next month or two, he said. “We are proposing at the moment to open the scheme for pedestrians and cyclists from May 2020.”
Within the city, the proposed route of the Royal Canal Cycleway runs from the Samuel Beckett Bridge and Guild Street in the Docklands, through North Strand, Drumcondra and Phibsboro, and out to Ashtown. The plan is to build it in four stages.
The first stretch, up to Sheriff Street Upper, was completed in 2013. The council has been working on the second – a challenging and interesting leg of the route, given the railway lines around there and the different parties involved, said O’Brien.
Phase two runs from Sheriff Street Upper, along the banks of the canal, rises over the railway lines, and joins up to Newcomen Bridge, he said.
As well as the 600 metres of segregated cycle track, this phase includes features such as 2.5 acres of public park, which stretches the length of the route. That will hopefully be an amenity for the area, he said.
The cycle track rises at a gradient of about 5 percent to Newcomen Bridge, he said. “Cyclists should feel it slightly, but not too much, so it should be okay.”
Engineers have also reconfigured the junction at Sheriff Street Upper, an intersection that cyclists have long said was dangerous, and the spot where, in 2016, cyclist Donna Fox was killed.
Access and Safety
“We also had to do quite a lot of repairs from the boundary walls,” said O’Brien, bringing up a slide with a photo of an old stone wall. “It looks really well.”
Residents had said they didn’t want the backs of their houses, or side roads, to open onto the route. “They wanted it to be a space where you went into and came out, so single entry and single exit point,” he said.
That’s one feature that Green Party Councillor Janet Horner wishes was different, she said at the meeting.
Horner said she understands residents’ concerns – which have been about crime. “But unfortunately, my concern about it is that a single entry and a single exit is going to prohibit certain people from using it.”
Her other concern is that people won’t want to cycle or walk this leg of the route alone as it is. “I would not necessarily feel 100 percent safe, unfortunately, using a route where there’s only a single entry point and a single exit point on it,” she said.
She asked if the council could monitor the route once it’s opened. “See what the usage of it is,” she says.
O’Brien, the engineer, said the original design for the greenway had routes threading off onto some roads there. But “that met with community resistance”.
Officials would have preferred to see a lot more permeability on the scheme, thinking more residents would have access, he said.
“The hope would be that once the scheme is up and running and people see the way it’s working and so on that attitudes may change in that area,” said O’Brien.
Picking up the theme of safety, Labour Councillor Marie Sherlock asked what lighting had been installed. “It’s not terribly apparent in the maps there.”
O’Brien said there’ll be public lighting and CCTV along the route.
Martin Hoey, a member of the council’s Public Participation Network, said it’s great to hear there’ll be a camera system, especially given attacks on cyclists along canals in the city.
But “I would hope it would be better-monitored that the current camera system that’s available going through the Fingal, Cabra area, where it’s been noted a lot of anti-social behaviour and the cameras haven’t stopped it,” he said.
For phase three of the cycle route – which runs from Newcomen Bridge in North Strand across to Phibsboro – the council plans to issue the construction tender in the next month or two, said O’Brien.
For the final section planned for the city – which runs from Phibsboro to Ashtown and the council’s boundary – the council is scheduled to issue a construction tender before June, said O’Brien.
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