Breen and team,
I really welcome the Skerries Active Travel consultation and believe this offers us a wonderful opportunity to create safe active travel infrastructure for our town that benefits all.
I would ask that due consideration be given to the SusTrans Study previously carried out and as such I will not outline them again in my submission. Many of these preferred routes still apply and are badly needed.
If you have any questions or need any more information, please let me know.
There are significant barriers to accessibility in the town which mean walking, wheeling and using a mobility scooter are particularly difficult:
- Lack of dished curbs
- Currently the coast footpath of Balbriggan road is in poor condition and is narrow. It is not suitable for wheelchairs/prams, it is barely wide enough with rough surface. Even if two people are walking in opposite directions one person has to step off the footpath and walk on the road
- Paths around Red Island are in poor condition and very difficult to traverse for people using mobility aids. This area needs revising in general and the path could be significantly widened to facilitate proper active travel infrastructure with proper segregation that allows for safer shared space.
- Lack of table top junctions
- Lack of benches and resting spots in the town centre
- Lack of public toilets
- Lack of public benches that allow for comfortable breastfeeding
- Poor footpath condition around Skerries Mills
- Pebbledash paths in the Mills is unsuitable for wheelchair users, users of mobility aids, prams and bikes
- Kissing gates all over the town
- Utility poles placed in the middle of pavements
- Narrow pavements
- Lack of pedestrian junctions on main roads eg Harrison Bay Road, Dublin Road, Shenick
- Narrow paths between Barnageeragh and the Ladys Stairs
- Lack of access path to Barnageeragh Cove beach
- Lack of boardwalk on South beach
- Limited designated parking in terms of age friendly parking, disabled parking and parking for those with hidden disabilities
- Lack of accessible seating areas, eg picnic benches with spaces for wheelchairs
- Designated parking for vulnerable road users eg at health centres
“Park and Stride” and town edge parking
- To ease the pressure on the limited parking within the town centre, including Red Island car park at busy weekends, the town needs to develop “edge of town” car parking on all approach roads from which people could conveniently walk, cycle or use public transport to finish their journey. Electronic signage could be erected in key places to inform motorists when the Red Island car park is full and where alternative parking can be found. The use of car parking charges on Red Island should be considered with barriers to prevent access when all spaces are full.
- A similar service such as the Laytown Shuttlebus should be considered. A regular community electric bus service circulating around Skerries would be a valuable asset for school children travelling to school and negate the need to be driven and provide an alternative for families and visitors who want to come into the town centre or go to the beach.
R127 Coast Road
The community of Barnageeragh, Hamilton Hill and Kellys Bay is within walking / cycling / wheeling distance of the town and it’s many amenities but many use the car because of:
- Lack of safe walking and cycling infrastructure on the R127 coast road
- Lack of ‘as the crow flies’ walking and cycling infrastructure to the community centre
- Lack of direct walking and cycling infrastructure to the town centre, coffee shops, restaurants, retail and many sports clubs and local amenities
- The provision of a bus stop at Barnageeragh Cove / Hamilton Hill is needed to encourage people to leave their cars at home. The town centre is approximately a 25 minute walk (via the coast road, or 40 minutes using current active travel infrastructure) and residents with mobility aids have noted this as being too far. With no public transport they are forced to use their cars
- To the right of the Educate Together School when facing it, lies a pathway called Kelly’s Lane. If followed on foot from the Barnageeragh Road, this lane connects pedestrians to the coast road. It is an excellent route for those who might want to cycle to and from the school via the more pleasant coast road. However, there is a reason people do not use it. Once the lane opens up at the coast, the pedestrian or cyclist is faced with no choice but to continue their journey on a main road with no footpath or cycle lane. This lane is also subject to anti social behaviour, opening it up for active travel and creating infrastructure on the coast road, a knock on effect is to create passive surveillance along this lane.
Now that the Barnageeragh Road is open fully, making the coast road one-way for vehicles and making the sea-side of this road a dedicated cycle and walking route (the Fingal Coastal Way) would solve the problem of a missing pathway on the coast road. Motorised traffic on this road could be permitted to run north-west towards Balbriggan, allowing local traffic to turn left onto the two-way Barnageeragh road when local access is needed.
Provision for access to the train station
- The cycle routes to the train station from all areas of the town are below par and often people on bikes and those walking are forced to mix, prevent people cycling from travelling at speed.
- Currently, motorised vehicles are able to travel too fast on the Barnageeragh road by the train station. Enforce a lower speed limit by road (system) re-design to make it safer for active travel
- Consider a full-length foot and bike path on the ballast pit side of the road, with regular safe pedestrian and bike crossings at strategic locations (path to the train station, entrances to estates, Skerries Point shopping centre etc.). A good example is the recently added raised crossing at the Barnageeragh/Dublin road junction.
- Revise on-road parking.
- Consider that the current combination of rough road surface and high speed creates significant noise and air pollution, negatively affecting the active travel experience along this road.
- A local creche on the Station Road has their drop off severely affected by large volumes of traffic and many opt for car use due to the unsafe traffic on this road
- The pedestrian crossing at Skerries Point needs to be revised. The crossing leads to the area where the footpath suddenly stops. There is a very clear desire line at other end of the entrance to Kellys Bay that indicates the safer point to cross where there is a continuous footpath on the other side.
- Traffic calming at Hamilton Hill urgently needs improving, most cars travel at speed through the middle of the ramps at this location, meaning the pedestrian crossing is very unsafe.
- Access to Realt Na Mara is constricted by the lack of a pedestrian crossing on the Harrison Bay Road. This also applies to access to the Educate Together by pupils from Mourne View.
Realt Na Mara
- Realt Na Mara would make an excellent consideration for a schools street
- Wild Cat Lane by Realt Na Mara needs to be resurfaced to allow children to avoid the car traffic in Mourne View and access the school via foot and bicycle
Bicycle Parking and Rental
- More cycle parking infrastructure is needed in the town centre itself for those shopping and accessing other services.
- Rental bikes are regularly seen locked in inappropriate places at entrances to estates because there is nowhere else to lock them.
- In the town centre itself there is very little cycle parking. There should also be more bike parking at the supermarkets and train station. And there should be a wider variety of parking spots, eg more facilities for cargo bike parking, and ebike charge points.
- In the town centre rental of additional supports for bike users such as rental strollers and prams, mobility aids, would reduce car loads. The same applies to beach showers and beach changing facilities.
Connection to Loughshinny
Given that Fingal County Council ‘want to make Active Travel in Skerries more convenient, inclusive, safer and the first choice for local trips of 5km or less.’, consideration should be given to improving the connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists within 5km of Skerries town and not just within the town itself to ensure an equitable, holistic approach to active travel and sustainable mobility.
For many residents in Loughshinny there is no safe walking or cycling infrastructure to Skerries, despit being within the radius of 5km and within the Skerries town Eircode. This is a particularly inhospitable environment to cyclists who do make use of this road corridor whilst pedestrians are extremely vulnerable should they try to walk beyond the Thomastown Reservoir towards Skerries given the lack of footpath. This is in particular contrast to the route towards Rush where there are dedicated footpaths that continue onto the train station and into Lusk.
The lack of footpaths and poor cycling environment exacerbates the need for private vehicle use to access the range of social infrastructure, recreational facilities and other attractions in Skerries town, despite living within 5km.