Royal Canal Towpath between Coolmine and Blanchardstown
Last week I gave Fingal County Council the local Green Party submission to the Royal Canal Green Way public consultation. In the submission, I called on FCC to investigate the construction of a dual cycleway and pedestrian path from the 12th Lock pub to Ashtown. However, I also argued against major construction work on the section of the Royal Canal between Castleknock Train Station and Clonsilla, due to the environmentally sensitive nature of the canal along this stretch.
In my submission, I proposed that a quality cycleway and pedestrian route should be developed along the towpath between Ashtown bridge and the 12th Lock Pub. This section of the route is quite wide and should be able to facilitate both pedestrians and cyclists. Such a cycleway would link Blanchardstown and Castleknock to the north City Centre via the existing cycleway at Ashtown.
However, the section of the canal between Castleknock and Clonsilla train stations is far more sensitive from an environmental point of view. The strip of land by the canal is much narrower, particularly along that section either side of the Coolmine bidge known as the ‘Deep Sinking’. In order to provide sufficient space for a quality cycleway and pedestrian access, major work would have to be undertaken. I do not think that the benefit from this sort of work would justify the environmental damage that would have to be inflicted on what is one of the most beautiful areas of the canal along the Dublin 15 section.
The full submission is below. If you have any views on this in particular, or more generally on the future of the section of the Royal Canal in Dublin 15, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Royal Canal Green Way Study
The Royal Canal is a huge leisure resource for Dublin in general and Dublin 15 in particular. Our stretch of the canal is already marketed as an element of the ‘Green Loop Trail’ between the Royal and Grand canals. The stated premise of this Green Way Study is to examine whether, in addition to a pedestrian function, the towpath of the canal could also be used as a “high quality continuous cycleway”.
The Dublin West Green Party strongly supports measures taken to promote cycling in Dublin 15, both for leisure reasons and as a means of commuting. At the same time, it is necessary to find a balance between what practical use could be made of the canal towpath for cycling purposes and any potential environmental damage that would result, bearing in mind the environmental sensitivity of the small strip of land at either side of the canal.
Context in which this study is being undertaken
It is relevant to examine works being undertaken on the section of the canal in question and in the surrounding local authority areas.
Since the major development of lands on the north side of the canal between Ashtown and Broombridge, the towpath along this section has been replaced by a wide hard surface, suitable for pedestrians and cyclists. The new path is extensively used, though past Broombridge station, the towpath reverts to a less consistent surface. The works done along the Ashtown section required the removal of extensive existing plant life and natural features.
From the Clonsilla bridge to Barberstown bridge, approximately a metre width has been from the embankment on the left, to widen the towpath, and the bank on the canal side has been extended somewhat, using this soil. This has resulted in the loss of some existing plant life.
Submission on use of Towpath
Ashtown to 12th Lock
The towpath between Ashtown bridge and the 12th Lock Pub is for the most part quite wide. We would suggest that this section is sizeable enough to accommodate a quality cycleway and also facilitate pedestrians. This cycleway would link Blanchardstown and Castleknock to the north City Centre via the cycleway at Ashtown. We would suggest that a this section of the towpath should also be accessible from the Navan Road Parkway train station. Obviously, in order to properly resource a cycleway along this stretch, consideration would have to be give to some form of lighting. We also think that consideration will have to be given to removing the motor-bike barriers that are currently in place along the entire stretch of the canal from Dublin 15 to the City Centre, as these are a significant obstacle to cyclists.
Linear park between Granard Bridge and the 12th Lock
In order to allow greater access to the proposed cycleway from the 12th Lock on, we would suggest that consideration be given to adding a cycle-path beside the current footpath on the north side of the linear park between Granard Bridge and the 12th Lock. This would allow direct access to the cycleway from the Castleknock Road.
Castleknock Station to Clonsilla
The section of the canal between Castleknock and Clonsilla train stations is, in our opinion, far more sensitive from an environmental perspective. The strip of land by the canal is much narrower, particularly along that section either side of Kirkpatrick Bridge known as the ‘Deep Sinking’. In order to provide sufficient space for a quality cycleway and pedestrian access, major work would have to be undertaken.
We would question whether the benefit from this sort of work would justify the environmental damage that would have to be inflicted on what is one of the ‘wildest’ areas of the canal along the Dublin 15 section. We would propose that in relation to the cycleway, an alternative route should be found. We would suggest that the Laurel Lodge Road, the Carpetnerstown Road and the Riverwood Road should be examined as part of linking Castleknock and Clonsilla stations via a cycleway. We note that there is already a bicycle path along some of this route, along with bus lanes, which could be developed further for more intensive cyclist use.
We would suggest that some improvements could be made to the existing surface of the towpath in certain locations between Castleknock and Clonsilla, to make it more attractive for pedestrians. However, we do not feel that the approach of excavating significant sections of the bank to widen the path, as it being undertaken at certain sections near Clonsilla station and the Porterstown bridge, is appropriate.
Dumping and Waste
Addressing the significant amount of dumping that takes place along the canal must also be a priority. The Dublin West Green Party undertake an annual clean-up of the canal, as do other community and voluntary groups. However, large scale dumping has occurred on a long term basis on either side of the Kirkpatrick bridge. Huge amounts of waste have accumulated in certain sites. We believe that it is vital firstly that this rubbish is removed, but also that measures are put in place to deter this in the future.