Review of Grand Canal cycle route

After a year and a half on ESB works the Green Route has finally opened.

Covering 8.5Km the new cycle path extends from the 12th Lock at Inchicore (Black Horse) to the 3rd Lock in Lucan. The path is equipped with CCTV, seats, bins, launching jetties, information points on local wildlife, and street lighting specifically designed to cater for the sleep patterns of local residents such as bats and otters. The pathway was a collaboration between ESB Networks, Waterways Ireland and Dublin City and County Councils.

The initiative does demonstrate a good planning strategy, although it simultaneously shows a lack of thoroughness in its planning by employing the use of the ‘kissing’ gates which force the cyclist to dismount a total of 9 times in the total distance of 8.5km.

The kissing gates are designed to prevent joyriders accessing the canal which is apparently a bad problem in the area. Their design is robust and covers the entire width of the pathway making it impossible to go around without falling into the canal itself. The enclosure is large enough to comfortably go through with an average sized bicycle (as can be seen below) although dismounting is much faster. Those using heavily loaded panniers may find these quite a nuisance. These gates also make passing in a wheelchair very difficult.

I counted 15 kissing gates (out of a total of 21 gates including the access to local housing estates), 6 of which are avoidable by going under the bridges. However the lighting is discontinued under the bridges, a place where night time users would be particularly wary of passing through.

Much has been spoken about the social problems in the area and a number of people have reported being attacked along the route. In the incidence of social problems or a person threatening violence, the presence of a gate which forces a cyclist to dismount will prevent escape from trouble. It’s very easy to imagine how one could potentially get cornered that way. On the other hand the increased traffic along the route could transform the social nature of the area for the better. I must add that when I cycled from the 12th lock to the 3rd and back I personally experienced no trouble.

It’s great to see some attention being focussed on the otherwise overlooked amenity of the canals. The surface is very good crushed gravel giving good traction and which won’t freeze over easily, a vast improvement on the pre-existing path. It’s also very generous in its width.

All in all despite the annoyance of the gates, it’s better than being on the road. It’s hard to know exactly what the right answer is, but it seems that the engineering involved could have put the cyclist more at the top of the list, such as installing the older fashioned conical cement bollards.

Donal Mac Erlaine

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