Coastal cycling route to give public easier access to Dublin Port and ferries

More than 16km of access will open parts of Dublin Bay to public for first time

Construction has started on the first phase of more than 16km of cycle routes through Dublin Port, under a €25 million initiative to open the port lands to the public and provide a safe route from ferry terminals to the city for the first time.

Dublin Port Company’s greenway projects will bridge a major gap in the provision of coastal cycling infrastructure across Dublin Bay, provide a starting point for the national Dublin to Galway cycleway and facilitate safe cycling within the port campus for the public and workers.

The first element of the scheme, due to be completed by next summer, will bring cyclists arriving by ferry from Holyhead in Wales and Cherbourg in France, to the port’s boundary with the city on almost 2km of protected greenways, a journey which currently has to be navigated by roads shared with juggernauts.

The new route will also be open to cyclists and pedestrian who are not ferry-bound, opening up previously inaccessible parts of the port and the Dublin coastline to the public.


“By summer of 2024, you will be able to come here and see the beautiful view of Clontarf, Howth in the distance and Dublin Bay, and see a part of the city only people who work in the port have seen over the last 40 years,” Lar Joye, the port heritage director, says.

“At the moment you are competing with a couple of thousand trucks a day so it’s very important we create this safe space for cyclists to come through the port and not be competing directly with the traffic. At the moment, it is a hostile environment but by next summer you’ll be able to come off a ferry and be on safe and secure cycling ‘hallway’ out to the fringes of the port.”

The route will also provide safe access for the 4,000 workers in the port, Joye says, many of whom use e-scooters to get around. “Most people don’t realise that from East Wall Road to the end of the port is a 45-minute walk or a 10-15 minute cycle. It’s a longer distance than people expect so this is badly needed.”

The Tolka estuary greenway starts in a surprisingly sylvan setting beside Eastpoint Business Park, before emerging from woodland to the shoreline directly opposite the Clontarf promenade.

It then takes a right turn, continuing to hug the shoreline, heading south with the port’s large round oil reservoirs heaving into view. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” Dublin Port Company chief executive Barry O’Connell says. “We’re not trying to hide the port, we are trying to bring people into it. You’ve the bay on the left-hand side, then you have the hustle and bustle of the port on the right-hand side… You can appreciate nature and the biosphere and the business and commerce of the nation happening.”

Turning left again and the route faces directly out to sea and runs alongside but it is segregated by a wall from Promenade Road, the busy access route to the ferries. A lane of traffic will be removed, turning from the greenway into the ferry check-in area to provide a safe access route for cyclists along Terminal Road.

For cyclists and walkers who are not ferry-bound, the greenway will continue on around the coast to the end of the northern section of the port lands. This final section, after the ferry terminals, involves further sea defences work and a linear park, and is due to be completed in about three years’ time.

Back on the landward side of the port, the company is expecting a decision from An Bord Pleanála by October on its 1.4km cycle path running from the Tolka estuary to the Liffey. This route again starts at the Eastpoint Business Park, but runs directly south alongside Bond Road and East Wall Road, all within port lands, as far as the roundabout before the Tom Clarke bridge where it meets the Liffey-side cycle path. Construction on this route, known as the Liffey-Tolka pedestrian and cycle route, is due to begin late next year.

From here, there will be several access points to the port’s “distributed museum”, a series of industrial heritage landmarks including a Victorian electricity substation, which houses part of the original east wall of the city; the old pumphouse which formerly housed the steam engine which powered the gates of the dry docks and has been repurposed by Dublin port into a cultural venue; and the former Odlums Flour Mill, which will become a National Maritime Archive and theatre, with studio and exhibition spaces for artists.

The port will also be the eastern starting point of the Dublin to Galway cycleway, a 270km dedicated traffic-free cycling route, which has been substantially completed from Maynooth to Athlone, with parts already finished and under construction in Dublin along the Royal Canal. This route will eventually link Ireland, through the ferry port, with EuroVelo 2, a 5,500km cycling east-west European cycling route.

Separately at the southern section of the port, the company will later this year submit an application to An Bord Pleanála for its 3FM project to develop its lands on the Poolbeg peninsula. This project would include a new bridge across the river with cycle paths, and potentially a Luas line, to serve future residential developments at the old Glass Bottle site. It would also complete the port company’s contribution to the long-planned Sutton to Sandycove (S2S) cycleway.

While there are regular calls for the port to move out of the city, O’Connell is candid that the opening of the port to the public through the development of greenways and the museum project is a major part of the pitch to remain.

“It very much is. People don’t really realise the importance of the port and what happens here. The reality is 90 per cent of all the trade in and out of the country comes through our seaports so they are vital for the economy, and 80 per cent of containerised freight comes through Dublin Port so it is absolutely critical to enable the economy to be able to grow at the level that it has been and it’s projected growth into the future. By opening up the port so that people understand what goes on in here, we’re not only explaining it and making it accessible, but we’re celebrating the impact that it has on Dublin and the wider economy.”

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times