Greenway Gets Go-Ahead From Cork County Council
Writes Leo McMahon
Despite opposition from a majority of local members, Cork County Council at its meeting on Monday gave the go-ahead for the €3.5 million development of a pedestrian and cycle greenway from Glenbrook ferry terminal to Raffeen Bridge via Monkstown.
Members were considering the ‘Part 8’ planning process report from the divisional manager recommending the mainly shoreline amenity. Thirteen submissions were received and there were modifications.
Features include two boardwalks (Strawhall and Raffeen Woods), widening of existing pathways where possible, additional public lighting, a new car park at Strawhall and extension of the path from there to Raffeen Bridge; traffic calming at a raised road crossing and a wall to ensure privacy for residents at Raffeen.
Proposing it, Cllr Derry Canty (FG) said it would be a great asset to the locality.
Cllr Mary Rose Desmond (FF) said that while she was very much in favour of greenways, she was against this proposal due to major concerns about a section near Monkstown taking in an existing walkway predominantly used by the elderly. Shared use here could result in walkers ‘being blown away like skittles.’ There was also a long tradition of part of the shoreline route being used by fishermen. Overall, she expressed disappointment that the concerns raised by councillors and the public hadn’t, in her opinion, been better addressed.
Cllr John A Collins (FG) seconded Cllr Canty. Referring to what is a 25 kilometre walk from Pairc ui Caoimh to Crosshaven, he said the greenway wasn’t for the people of Glenbrook, Monkstown and Raffeen only, but the people of all of Cork and those who access the harbour and exercise.
Acknowledging there were safety issues, Cllr Collins said there were other walks which were shared spaces and he hadn’t heard of any serious incidents on these.
Cllr Marcia D’Alton (Ind) said she too supported the idea of greenways along a former railway line such as Carrigaline Crosshaven and Cork Passage West which are off-road.
The section of concern between Glenbrook and Monkstown, known locally as ‘cardiac mile’ was depended on by many walkers who were now terrified they would no longer feel able to use it, because of cycles using same. There was no physical barrier between the proposed greenway here and a curvy section of busy commuter regional road. There were also problems from Murph’s Bar towards the N28 because the greenway would not be off road.
In conclusion, Cllr D’Alton said she couldn’t support the proposal before the council and felt the sections of concern should be suspended and separated from the overall greenway route for the time being and suggested the council concentrate on developing the off-road sections.
Cllr Eoghan Jeffers (SF) said he too couldn’t support the proposal. His party supported cycle-ways but had noted existing greenways were not being used by many walkers because it was a shared space.
He felt it was dangerous, especially for children, to use a three metre wide greenway so close to a busy main road. From speaking to sea anglers, he was told the place they were given wasn’t very good for fishing and they had no intention of moving from the places along the shoreline they have traditionally used.
‘We don’t live in an ideal world’, said Cllr Deirdre Forde (FG) voicing support for the project. ‘It wasn’t too long ago that people along the very busy Rochestown Road had to walk next to walls with no footpath.’
No greenway perhaps, was ideal but in other countries it was quite the norm for pedestrians and cyclists to use the same path and in time people got used to this. She warned that if the project wasn’t approved, the harbour area would lose €3.5m, adding; ‘I don’t know any Cork person who wants to lose money for Cork’. She urged members to pass and adapt it as time went on.
Cllr Michael Frick Murphy (SF) said he cycled a lot in the locality and he would be worried about doing so on the sections near Monkstown and from speaking to people, shared use of the greenway between Rochestown and Passage West wasn’t working. He said he couldn’t support the proposal.
County Mayor Seamus McGrath (FF) said that from the outset he raised serious concerns about shared usage between Glenbrook to Monkstown and on to Hayes’ Lane. He had hoped it would be addressed through the ‘Part 8’ process but it wasn’t. While accepting there were physical restrictions he was still of the view that a shared use path should have a minimum width of four metres, similar to Douglas Community Park. Sections of this greenway were three metres wide.
There were, he contended safety and other issues with the existing greenways, which he used regularly, with totally inadequate signage, no code of conduct and complaints from cyclists and walkers. There was no protection from the busy main road at the Glenbrook-Monkstown section, especially for children riding bicycles. On that basis, he couldn’t support it.
It was intended to suspend the greenway through the middle of Monkstown and he felt this should be for a wider distance as a walking route, which it traditionally was.
Chief Executive Tim Lucey said continuous development of the greenway in Cork Harbour was an objective of the council. He warned that there was considerable demand for same and other projects elsewhere. There were always constraints in developing greenways but he stressed that this one met safety and other guidelines, even where sections were three metres wide.
Uncertainty was natural but this was the optimum that could be achieved. Mr. Lucey added that he walked it himself and on the section of concern saw leisure cyclists use it.
The motion went to a vote which resulted 22-20 in favour of the greenway. There were three abstentions. Several members complimented Ms. Claire Cronin and her team on compiling an excellent project report and for all their hard work.