New Cycle and Walkways Sandymount to Sandycove – The S2S at last? -August 2020

As the saying goes – it’s an ill wind that blows no good.  The Covid 19 pandemic is a case in point.  It has inflicted death and misery on communities and seriously damaged economies across the world.  Coping with this disaster comes on top of the urgent need to tackle the ever-increasing problems of global warming.  The combination of these two has caused us all to think seriously about the way we live, travel, work and play.  We should not become despondent however- there are things we can do to turn these problems around.

On the positive side the crises have enabled authorities to experiment with previously unthinkable measures to deal, not only with the Covid 19 pandemic, but also to make it attractive for people to shift from motor cars to walking and cycling so as to reduce carbon emissions and improve their health and welfare.  Examples of such experiments are the recent works undertaken by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council (DLRCC) to provide temporary segregated cycleways and improved walkways in Blackrock itself and between Blackrock and Sandycove.  Similar measures are also planned by Dublin City Council between Ringsend and Merrion Gates.  The transformation has surprised most people. Blackrock has changed from being a place that was dominated by traffic at the expense of pedestrians and cyclists to one in which pedestrians and cyclists can feel relaxed and welcome.  While acknowledging that there are some relatively small issues that need to be resolved, the Councils, together with the National Transport Authority, are to be commended for their actions. They must take encouragement from the positive reaction of the local community and traders, many of whom were instrumental in promoting the idea in the first place. 

Many people are wondering if these works are part of the missing sections the Sutton to Sandycove Promenade and Walkway (S2S) in South Dublin Bay and can they be regarded as such. The answer is that some parts would form important sections of the S2S while others do not.  The 1.8 km section between Dun Laoghaire Harbour and Sandycove would fulfill most of the criteria for the S2S and can be regarded as such.  Likewise, the works proposed by DCC for the 2.7 km between Sean Moore Road and Merrion Gates would, depending on the resolution of the outstanding issues and the detailed design, also meet the key criteria. For other sections of the S2S however the temporary works do not fulfill the basic criteria.  Those other sections are, nonetheless, to be welcomed as part of the on-road commuter cycle routes.  There is no conflict between those on-road sections and the completion of the S2S on the seafront.

It is important to understand the difference between the S2S and the temporary cycleway/walkway that has been created on the existing road between Blackrock and Dun Laoghaire. The S2S in South Dublin Bay was conceived as a combined walkway and cycleway outside the railway line on the seafront.  It would be level, noise and pollution free with no traffic junctions, pedestrian crossings nor vehicle entrances and exits. It provides the capability of cycling or walking from Dun Laoghaire to Dublin City center without having to cross paths with motorized vehicles in any significant way. It is envisaged as primarily a leisure/health facility with obvious uses as a traffic free route for children and less experienced cyclists as well as commuter cyclists.  It can play a vital role in creating a whole new generation of cyclists in a way that no other facility could do. It gives people the possibility to walk along the edge of Dublin Bay and enjoy the amenity without having to walk on the strand.

The new Cyclway at Seapoint Avenue – Good, but not quite the S2S

These new Covid-19 initiatives – in both DCC and DLR – provide the ideal opportunity to combine the S2S with the necessary Coastal Protection of the railway between Merrion Gates and Dun Laoghaire Harbour and separately  to combine the equally important Commuter Cycleway with the Bus Connects project inland on the existing roads. This has successfully been done in other countries, why not here?  It is a no brainer as many people would say, and we need to ensure it does happen here.

Michael Collins. email:


Sutton to Sandycove Promenade and Cycleway.