Cyclists 'disappointed' following meeting with City Hall officials

Cyclists 'disappointed' following meeting with City Hall officials
Cyclists in Cork say if more people cycle there will be a positive impact on car traffic, air quality and levels of physical activity. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Cycling activists in Cork have expressed disappointment after meeting City Hall officials, saying they were hoping the meeting would be more "productive". 

Cycling advocates Sam McCormack and Majo Rivas met with Cork City Council to discuss a range of issues including the maintenance of cycle lanes, cyclist safety and the parking of vehicles in cycle lanes.

However, they said they were confused when the Council's Chief Executive Ann Doherty started the meeting by reading out an email from someone complaining about cyclists being on the footpath.

"Myself and my colleague went into the meeting hoping to discuss safe cycling infrastructure and improvements that could be made," Sam told The Echo.

"The email which was read out at the start immediately put a negative slant on the meeting before we even began.

"I understand this was an email from someone else, but I felt it was completely unrelated to the topic we were due to discuss… it's not pedestrians versus cyclists."

Sam says everything came back to the "apparent lack of funding [for cycling infrastructure]".

Another issue raised was cars parking in dedicated bike lanes on Washington Street and South Main Street.

"It came back [to] the same statement of how illegal parking in bike lanes is a matter for Gardaí.

"We already know Garda resources are stretched, and if City Hall had segregated these bike lanes in the first place there would be no issue at all."

Mr McCormack believes the lack of segregated cycling lanes is a "safety concern" as illegally parked cars push cyclists into traffic.

Maintenance of current cycling infrastructure was another issue raised, with Sam citing the Link Road in Mahon and the Kinsale Road as examples of "crumbling infrastructure."

"The Council could be doing so much more to encourage active travel in the city, and protection of vulnerable road users and infrastructure should be a top priority to start."

Ms Rivas says that while there are long term plans to improve cycling infrastructure, "changes need to be made now."

"We move by bike every day, we cannot wait for 10 or 15 years for projects like the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy 2040 or Bus Connects.

"There are bike stands that are not working because they are broken or have abandoned bikes, like those outside Paul Street shopping centre or at the intersection of Cornmarket and Castle Street.

"If more people cycle there will be a positive impact on car traffic, air quality and levels of physical activity.

"So many of my friends tell me they don't cycle because they are terrified, and I'll be honest I've started my day in tears on more days than I'd like to admit."

In a statement, Cork City Council said: "A 1.5 hour meeting took place between the individuals and members of senior management." 

"The representatives' concerns were listened to and it was outlined to them how new cycling infrastructure is generally delivered as part of overall route improvement schemes rather through isolated projects.

"The needs of all road users must be considered including pedestrians, public transport users, cyclists and motorists. Schemes are also subject to public consultation under which all suggestions received are considered.

"Physical segregation measures... will continue to be proposed and provided, with the types of measures varying depending on the capacity, nature and characteristics of the location."

The Council also said route improvement schemes which are expected to begin construction in the coming months include the Greenway upgrade (from the Marina to Mahon), Skehard Road (Church Road Junction to CSO Junction), City Centre to Docklands Route Improvement Scheme, Glanmire Roads Improvement Scheme, and Ballyvolane to City Route Improvement Scheme Phase Two.

"In relation to cycle lane maintenance works, the Council's annual road maintenance programme will be prepared early in the new year. The programme will be determined [with] regard to the funding allocations received, and all maintenance requests will be examined as part of the process.

"An audit of discarded bikes [in bike parking] is due to commence shortly so that more space can be freed up."

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