Archive for the 'Transport' Category

Dominick’s submission to the Cork Cycle Network Plan

Background
I am a daily commuter cyclist, living and working in Cork City. I have been cycling in and around Cork City for the past fifteen years or so.

Cycle Lanes and Routes
First of all there has been a huge improvement in recent years in cycling infrastructure around the city, and I hope this improvement continues. I regularly use the new cycle lanes on both Anglesea Street / Parnell Place and Pope’s Quay, and these are both excellent. I used to use the old railway line from the marina to Rochestown regularly, and still do occasionally, and this too is excellent. The biggest issue with this route is the state of the road surface on Centre Park Road, which you must use to get to and from the city, which is shocking in places. This causes a definite hazard to cyclists using this route, as there are often huge potholes to negotiate, and you can often be left with the Hobson’s choice of ploughing on into a pothole, or veering out in front of a truck. I hope that this road can get a completely new surface in the near future.

I fully recognise that the potential for developing a complete cohesive cycling route around the city is not practical, as many of the city’s roads are too narrow. One route that could be developed I think is a two way route across the North channel of the River Lee, either at St. Patrick’s Bridge / Bridge Street or at Brian Boru Bridge / Brian Boru Street.

Bike Parking
There has been great improvement in bike parking facilities around the city in recent years, with a number of excellently sited bike racks. However some key locations are still lacking. Topmost of these, for me, is the English Market. There is great potential to put simple racks, probably best parallel to the walls rather than perpendicular, to which bikes could be locked on some of the laneways leading in to the market, such as Market Lane on the Oliver Plunkett Street side, or on the lane that used to have the Vineyard pub (sorry don’t know its name) on the Patrick’s Street side. Other locations I have noticed a lack, or insufficient, bike parking are Opera Lane, in the vicinity of Dunnes Stores on Patrick’s Street, the bus station, around Merchant’s Quay shopping centre, around the Gate Cinema, and around Cork Opera House, and also around Princes Street and McCurtain Street.

Also large sporting and entertainment facilities around the city are generally lacking any bike parking infrastructure, such as at Irish Independent Park, the soccer stadium at Turner’s Cross and Pairc Ui Chaoimh (which I hope can be sorted out in its current redevelopment). Also the Live at the Marquee event during the summer, while it has some bike parking, could do with much better, and maybe the Coke Zero city bikes could set up temporary stands at events like this.

Bike Pods and Bike Lockers
It would be extremely useful for people who want to leave their bikes for a few days or similar, or who have a particularly valuable bike with them, that there be paid bike lockers or bike pods or similar, at a couple of locations around the city. These could be charged on an hourly or daily basis. Suitable locations might be at the train station, the bus station, and maybe close to City Hall, or even within some the multi-storey car parks. These could be made dual purpose, for the use of motor cyclists as well as cyclists.

Bike Lifts for the Northside of the City
If we are truly to embrace cycling culture in Cork, a big obstacle to this are the hills on the North side of the city. The installation of bicycle lifts, similar to that in Trondheim in Norway, at a few key locations around the city could go a long way to opening up the north side of the city to cycling. I believe there is a French company marketing such technology. I have a number of suggested locations, such as St. Patrick’s Hill, Shandon Street as far as the north Cathedral, Summerhill North / Ballyhooly Road as far as Dillon’s Cross, and Popham’s Road, from near Blackpool Shopping Centre up to the church.

Making Work Places/ Shops/ Schools etc. more Cyclist Friendly
I think that the provision of cycling infrastructure should be fully integrated in to the planning process, so that any new developments, or any redevelopments, must provide appropriate cycling infrastructure as part of the development. I think this should apply to any sort of commercial development, or really any sort of development beyond a single private residence, including workplaces, shops, leisure facilities, schools, etc. Even private houses should be designed so that there is space to park bicycles. A key part of any design process should be the consideration of how someone arriving by bicycle at a location would fare. The following are some sample questions which could be used to test any new developments for cyclist compatibility. Where do they park the bicycle? Where do they store their helmet/ panniers/ rain gear, so that they don’t have to carry it all with them? Do cyclists need shower and / or locker facilities to freshen up and to store their gear? I think Cork City Council should consider providing a facility in the City Centre to facilitate those working or shopping in the city arriving by bicycle, where they can park their bicycle safely, where there are lockers for them to store their gear, and where there are showers available if they are arriving sweaty. Such facilities should be integrated into all larger workplaces, and where there is a concentration of smaller workplaces, such facilities should be provided communally.

Developing and Fostering a Culture of Cycling in Cork City and Environs
In order to develop a culture of cycling, it is first important to ask the questions as to what are the fundamental obstacles to this. In the last fifteen years or so that I have been cycling in Cork, the number of cyclists has increased dramatically, and if this growth is to continue, which is good for the general population in so many ways in terms of the environment, health, reduction of congestion and pollution, tourism, ease of mobility, and so on, the questions must be asked as to what is preventing more people becoming cyclists. This is not just a questions of hard cycling infrastructure, which I have already dealt with above, but is also a question of how to shift mindsets and open people up to the possibilities of cycling.

The biggest obstacle to the growth of cycling is fear. There is now largely a couple of generations in existence who have lived their whole lives using cars as their principal means of transport, and who either have never cycled, or who have only cycled as children before they were old enough to drive. There are also many parents who would not let their children cycle out of fear, even as teenagers. These are largely people who do not and have not cycled themselves. Overcoming these fears is not easy, and any schemes aimed at getting those who don’t / haven’t ever cycled out on bikes is to be encouraged. To that end, such events as the Rebel Pedal, the Cork Cycling Festival, family fun cycles, cycle to school days, charity fun cycles and so on, should be supported, encouraged and facilitated where at all possible. The long term benefits of getting people on to bicycles who haven’t cycled before are huge. Hopefully the recent introduction of the Coke Zero city bike scheme will encourage many of those who have never cycled to get out there and give it a go.

Another obstacle to the real growth of cycling is that many view it as purely a leisure or sporting activity, and not primarily as a mode of transport. While the leisure cyclists should certainly be supported and encouraged, my main concern is with cycling as a mode of transport, and many do not see it in this way. The Government’s bike to work scheme has certainly helped promote the idea of cycling as a principal mode of transport, but all possible avenues to promote this viewpoint should be explored and promoted. The introduction of cyclist friendly infrastructure within work places and schools, as outlined above, would certainly help.

It must be said that there are road users out there who neither expect, nor respect, cyclists. In my experience in the city, one of the main groupings that cyclists come into conflict with are taxi drivers. As taxi drivers are professional drivers, and their working days on the roads, they come into contact with many cyclists, and should be aware of the space cyclists need, and should also be aware of the hazards they can cause cyclists. However by their behaviour on the roads, it is patently clear that many, certainly not all, taxi drivers have no fundamental understanding of the risks they can pose to cyclists. I know that in other countries to overcome such issues, the car drivers have been taken out around the city on bicycles for a few hours, and they have the hazards caused by drivers pointed starkly out to them. I propose that, to start with, a group of taxi drivers be taken out by some experienced cyclists for a few hours around the city, as when they experience cycling from the cyclists’ perspective, they will hopefully change their behaviour as drivers as they become more aware of the hazards they pose to cyclists. Such a scheme may be possible in conjunction with the Coke Zero city bike scheme, who might be able to provide the bicycles for such an event.

Conclusion
That is all I have to say for now on the subject. If I can be of any further assistance, please feel free to get in touch. I look forward to the continuing development of cycling in and around the city, and to the development eventually of a cycling culture in Cork, as exists in many cities on the European continent already.

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Cllr. Donnelly welcomes An Bord Pleanála decision to grant Harbour Cat Ferries planning permission in Passage West and Monkstown

20th May 2009

Cllr. Dominick Donnelly, Green Party member of Passage West Town Council and candidate for the Carrigaline area of Cork County Council, has welcomed An Bord Pleanála’s decision to grant planning permission for Harbour Cat Ferries for their landing stations at Passage West and Monkstown.

Cllr. Donnelly said: “It is great news for the harbour communities that Harbour Cat Ferries has now got planning permission for its landing stations at Passage West and Monkstown. I hope that the service can get up and running soon, following their previous planning permissions for their landing stations at Cobh, Crosshaven and in the City at Horgan’s Quay. While some concerns have been expressed by members of the community about the proposed service, I think it will prove to be a very valuable service to the community. Passage West Rowing Club had expressed particular concerns, in the fear that they will lose the part of the river in which they row to the jetty for the ferry. I am sure that with proper consultation, any issues can be satisfactorily resolved. An Bord Pleanála’s inspector has recommended that a river usage management plan be put in place, and that would be a very welcome development.”

Cllr. Donnelly continued: “I first put down a motion to Passage West Town Council seeking a waterbus service such as this about four years ago. However none of the statutory bodies wished to pursue it, and it fell to a private operator to get the service up and running. It will prove to be vitally important in the future to have a variety of transport options available, as cars will become more and more expensive to run due to the rising price of oil as it starts to run out. Hopefully this will be the start of Cork Harbour’s road to achieving its potential as the national centre for heritage, tourism and culture it should be.”

Cllr. Donnelly says the people of Cork Harbour will never allow the incinerators to be built

15th May 2009

Cllr. Dominick Donnelly, Green Party member of Passage West Town Council and candidate for Cork County Council, addressed the An Bord Pleanála oral hearing into the Ringaskiddy incinerators yesterday.  The hearing has now adjourned for the next three weeks.

After the hearing, Cllr. Donnelly, who is a member of the CHASE steering committee, said:  “In my presentation to the An Bord Pleanála inspector I focused on three main areas.  The first of these was that the direction of development in Cork Harbour has changed, away from being a purely industrial zone to becoming a centre for tourism, culture and amenity.  With the closure of the steelworks and the IFI fertilizer factory, Cork Harbour now has the chance to reach its potential as a premium waterfront destination.  The Cork Area Strategic Plan calls Cork Harbour ‘Europe’s most exciting waterfront’, and while it certainly has the potential to achieve that, it has not yet done so.  However with plans to open up Spike Island to visitors, existing planning permissions for marinas at Monkstown and Passage West, the return next year of the Cork Swansea ferry service, and with ongoing efforts to have Cork City and Harbour achieve UNESCO World Heritage Site status, the impetus for development has clearly changed.  The building of a huge obtrusive incinerator in the middle of all of this, would surely scupper any chance of Cork Harbour achieving the global recognition it should have.  Sydney Harbour has its iconic Opera House, Cork Harbour would have a monstrous incinerator.”

Cllr. Donnelly continued:  “I also discussed how my Green Party colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, John Gormley, has made clear statements as to how national waste policy is changing.  Given that five years ago the incinerator was granted planning permission solely on the basis that it was Government policy, it is crucial that the inspector and the board understand that Government policy is shifting.  While the full review of waste policy is still underway, and won’t be ready until the Autumn, the Minister has made many clear indications that the policy has shifted away from incineration.  For example he recently indicated that there will be a doubling of the landfill levies later this year, with the introduction of a similar incineration levy, with the express intent of making it less economically viable to landfill or burn our waste, and to encourage waste minimisation, recycling and reuse.”

“I finished my presentation by focusing on how there is absolutely no community acceptance for the incinerators in the communities around the harbour, and beyond into the wider Cork community.  These communities have fought the incinerators for eight years already unbowed, and will continue to fight for as long as it takes.  I told the inspector that it would save our communities a lot of future grief is she refused this planning application now, but that the communities would never allow the incinerators to be built, whatever that takes,” concluded Cllr. Donnelly.

The full text of Cllr. Donnelly’s oral presentation to An Bord Pleanála is available at:  https://dominickdonnelly.com/links/dominicks-oral-submission-to-indaver-oral-hearing/

Cllr. Donnelly calls for directly elected mayor for County Cork

13 May 2009

Cork County Council should follow Dublin’s lead and elect a powerful mayor

Green Party county council candidate and former Mayor of Passage West, Cllr. Dominick Donnelly has said that people in County Cork would benefit from a powerful directly elected mayor with powers to direct transport, planning and other local services.

Following the announcement by Minister for Local Government John Gormley that Dubliners will be voting for a mayor with a range of new powers next summer, Cllr. Donnelly said: “Our county deserves a mayor with real powers, elected by the people – and answerable to them. We would benefit from an elected mayor that could better steer policies to create jobs and improve local services in our area.  I hope that Dublin is just a starting point for powerful mayors and I encourage people to support my campaign for a directly elected mayor for County Cork.”

“The green paper on local government reform, published by Minister Gormley last April, was in favour of directly elected mayors in cities and counties. It also recommended that the democratic policy making function of local government would be strengthened by giving important powers of initiation – budgets, development plans etc, to the mayor.  I hope that the forthcoming white paper which is due to be published soon will support this recommendation and I ask people to give me their support so I can convince John Gormley that County Cork needs a directly elected mayor,” concluded Cllr. Donnelly.

Links:

More details on Minister Gormley’s announcement can be found at: http://www.greenparty.ie/en/news/latest_news/elected_mayor_for_dublin_next_summer

The government’s green paper on local government reform can be accessed at: http://www.environ.ie/en/LocalGovernment/LocalGovernmentReform/

Cllr. Donnelly welcomes announcement of new weekly bus service from Passage West to Carrigaline, under the Rural Transport Scheme

11th May 2009

Cllr. Dominick Donnelly, Green Party member of Passage West Town Council and candidate for Cork County Council, has welcomed the announcement by South and East Cork Area Development (SECAD) of a new weekly bus service from Passage West to Carrigaline, via Monkstown and Ringaskiddy, under the Rural Transport Scheme.

Cllr. Donnelly, who is a director of SECAD, said: “This new bus service, which will run on a Friday and which will start in mid-June, is wonderful news for the communities of Passage West, Monkstown, Ringaskiddy, Shanbally and Carrigaline.  The Rural Transport Scheme is primarily aimed at older members of the community, and it will be wonderful for them to be able to access Carrigaline, even if it is only once a week.  All of the new services which SECAD have started under the Rural Transport Scheme over the past year or so have been successful, with increasing numbers availing of the service, and I have no doubt that the Passage West to Carrigaline service will be just as successful.”

“I first put a motion before Passage West Town Council on the issue of starting a bus service between Passage West and Carrigaline about four years ago, and there was a follow up meeting between the town council and Joe Fitzgerald of Bus Eireann on this issue, but in the intervening years we have heard nothing back from Bus Eireann.  It is ludicrous that there is no public transport service linking the communities of Passage West, Monkstown and Ringaskiddy with Carrigaline.  This has caused major problems for the communities over the years, and has led to a very high level of car dependency in the area, which is simply not sustainable into the future.  I do hope that this new service will show to Bus Eireann that there is a demand for such a service, and that they will finally establish a full daily service along this route,” concluded Cllr. Donnelly.

Cllr. Donnelly expresses regret that Cork Swansea ferry service will not resume until 2010

6th May 2009

Cllr. Dominick Donnelly, Green Party member of Passage West Town Council and candidate for Cork County Council, has expressed regret that the new Cork to Swansea ferry service, which has been backed by a Cork based co-operative, will not now start its service until 2010.

Cllr. Dominick Donnelly, who is an investor in the co-operative backing the ferry, said:  “It is a great pity that the operators were not able to get this service up and running this year.  However they were always going to be up against the wire time-wise, and the delays in sorting out the purchase of the ferry Julia in Finland have made it impossible to get up and running in time for the main season this year.  I wish to congratulate all of those who have put in enormous work to try to get this going this year, and we must all now be patient, and wait till next year to see this vital service up and running.”

“With the airline industry in an inevitable long slow decline due to climate change and rising oil prices, it is vital that our ferry and shipping links are developed.  We are an island, and shipping will be absolutely essential for trade and tourism in the years and decades to come.  Those behind the resumption of the Cork Swansea ferry service will be seen to be visionaries in the future.  It is the only form of international transport which the planet can sustain,” Cllr. Donnelly concluded.

Cllr. Donnelly welcomes the Government’s setting up of an Inter-Departmental Marine Co-ordinating Group

2nd May 2009

The Green Party’s candidate for the Carrigaline electoral area of Cork County Council and for Passage West Town Council, Cllr. Dominick Donnelly, has welcomed the announcement by the Minister of State with special responsibility for forestry, fisheries and the marine, Tony Killeen, that the Government has set up a high-level Inter-Departmental Marine Co-ordinating Group.

“As a public representative alongside the second largest natural harbour in the world, Cork Harbour, I welcome this initiative from the Government. It shows that the Government are taking maritime matters seriously. As an island nation, we have not always given maritime matters the attention we should have, but the sea is one of our greatest assets, and we are completely dependent on shipping for a huge proportion of our international trade,” Cllr. Donnelly said.

“With the twin problems of climate change and peak oil signalling the inevitable demise of air travel over the next couple of decades, we will once again have to look more to the sea for most, if not all, of our international trade and travel. Also much or our energy will be coming from the sea in the near future, with the technology for both wave and tidal power developing apace, as well as off-shore wind power. In Cork Harbour we have the prospect of the Marine and Energy Research Cluster (MERC) developing in Ringaskiddy, alongside the National Maritime College of Ireland, as well as the resumption of a ferry service between Cork and Swansea during the summer (Fastnet Line). Maritime matters will be even more central to our economic wellbeing in the future, and it is important that the Government take maritime issues seriously now to plan for that future,” Cllr. Donnelly concluded.