A new cycle lane at Dun Laoghaire Harbour runs across the primary access route for the town's RNLI Lifeboats, one of the busiest stations in the country and restricts the lifesaving service in its emergency response, according to the Dun Laoghaire RNLI.
The new scheme, currently under construction, also blocks the direct route to the National Yacht Club (NYC) at the town's East Pier.
Mr Stephen Wynne, the Lifeboat Operations Manager at RNLI Dun Laoghaire told Afloat the lifesaving charity was currently 'in consultation with DLRCoCo to find an amicable solution'.
The traffic management plan includes road closures as part of an overall plan to implement a cycle lane through the town to the popular Forty Foot bathing place in nearby Sandycove.
Access from Queen's Road 'is the primary access route used by volunteer lifeboat crew in the provision of its 24/7 lifesaving service and it is restricted as a result' Mr Wynne says.
Access to the NYC and the lifeboat station is now via the harbour roundabout at the nearby Royal St. George Yacht Club but already, at certain times of the day, new road markings at the roundabout are restricting traffic flow, according to harbour users.
DLRCoCo has also relocated its weekend markets from the Peoples Park to Queens Road between Park Road and the entrance to the Pavilion car park resulting in the road closure to all but pedestrians and cyclists.
As a result, it means RNLI crews responding to an emergency call-out and travelling by car are effectively blocked coming from the east and potentially severely restricted arriving from the west depending on the time of day.
A spokesman for the NYC said the club – the Irish yacht club of the year in 2018 – had 'no comment' to make in relation to the scheme.
The cycling schemes form part of the County-wide plan of temporary measures to address the challenges in the public realm resulting from Covid-19 related to public health and safety, mobility and to support the recovery of the local economy. The Council says on its website there have been high increases in cycling numbers on routes along the coastline in May 2020, according to real-time data from cycle counters. When compared with May 2019, cycling numbers in Blackrock Park almost doubled, rising from over 16,385 cyclists to 29,666 cyclists over the month of May.
A request for comment from DLRCoCo was not responded to by the time of publication.
UPDATE: July 17. DLRCoCo response as follows:
In response to Covid-19, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council (DLRCC) has made safety-critical changes to the layout of the roads infrastructure on roads on the coastal route between Blackrock and Sandycove to reallocate road space so as to protect the health and safety of the significantly increased numbers of cyclists and pedestrians who are accessing the coastal route.
There has been an almost 100% increase in the number of cyclists using the coastal route. According to real-time data from cycle counters in Blackrock Park in May 2020 there were 29,666 cyclists compared with 16,385 cyclists in May 2019. A very distinct pattern has emerged during the Covid-19 restrictions with a wide variety of ages and abilities observed to be cycling on the road.
DLRCC as a local authority and a road authority has a duty of care to all road users, particularly vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians, and the mobility interventions, including the provision of a 2-way segregated cycle way, have necessitated changes to the road layout along Queen’s Road and in the Harbour area. In order to avoid a conflict between cyclists on the 2-way cycle way and vehicles, it was deemed necessary from a safety perspective to prevent access to vehicles via the access point in the Harbour closest to the East Pier. However, there are still clear vehicle access routes through to the RNLI lifeboat station in the Harbour via the Marine Road/Crofton Road junction and at York Road/Crofton Road junction, via the Cold Quay Bridge.
DLRCC has met on a number of occasions with RNLI representatives about the plans for the mobility interventions on Queen’s Road and in the Harbour area and plans further engagement so as to ensure that DLRCC as a road authority and RNLI as a lifesaving charity can meet their respective safety-critical responsibilities.
The dlr CoCo Markets was located on a trial basis on Queens Road on 12th July but this will not continue and the Market will be relocated to nearby locations which means that Queens Road will be open to vehicular traffic under the new one-way system during the week and at weekends.