“Full segregation” claim not matched by plans for Stillorgan Park Road upgrade

Mix match

A shared use footpath, a segregated cycle path, and shared surface roundabout all in one.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council have published a report from their consultants about a planned upgrade of the Stillorgan Park Road.

Elsewhere the council are planning a highly promising looking cycle segregated route on Braemor Road and they are making small but very effective interventions such as barrier removal. But the Stillorgan Park Road project is still the kind of thing that gives segregation of cyclists a bad name.

The new design will be a vast improvement on the current design, however if you want all sorts of cyclists to use and support the idea and cost of segregation, then you stop mixing cyclists and pedestrians. In this regard, the report published by the council for the Stillorgan Park Road plans contains this clear bit of misinformation:

“The scheme will provide a fully segregated cycle route that will reduce potential conflict between cyclists and vehicular traffic”

A quick look at the drawings for the scheme shows that the cycle route clearly will not be fully segregated from pedestrians (or motorists). Another major problem with this quote is that cyclists are a type of vehicular traffic — you can’t segregate cyclists from vehicular traffic when bicycles are vehicles under Irish law. The above statement from the report is unable to be factually correct. It’s misinformation — intended or not.

The route cannot be seen as “fully segregated” mainly because of it’s over-reliance on “shared use” space where cyclists and pedestrians mix so that the route causes no adverse impacts on motor vehicular traffic. Shared use is also used at a bus stop because rather than keeping cyclists and pedestrians separate — the priority on the road is to keep any buses in out of the way of cars, so motorists are not held up for a few seconds when a bus pulls in at the stop. Apparently it’s just dandy to have bicycles at all sorts of speeds mixing with people of all ages and abilities getting on, off or waiting for a bus:

bus stop

The cycle path and footpath merges into shared use at the bus stop: This isn’t “full segregation” – it’s putting cyclists and bus users in direct conflict.

Shared use is also used at a roundabout — most likely because the core roundabout design chosen, according the National Cycle Manual, maxs out where traffic levels are at or less than 6,000 vehicles per day. To quote the manual:

“Shared roundabouts can be used in mixed street environments at junctions with design capacities of up to 6,000 vehicles per day, and where the vehicular speed on the approach roads is less than 50km/h.” [It’s worth noting the manual is not referring to the posted speed but the actual speeds encountered on the road]

However, the report published by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council says:

“Estimated annual average daily traffic (AADT) on Stillorgan Park Road is 16,200 vehicles.”

That’s traffic volumes 170% higher than what the manual allows for for this design. The highly compromised design fix is to use the “shared roundabout” and to tack on a shared use footpath on one side, an off-carriageway cycle track on the other, and a shared use crossing. The message here to cyclists can’t be clearer: Use the road or footpath when you like. And Fintan O’Tooles of this world are still — somehow — left to wonder why some cyclists think it’s ok to use footpaths!

Shared use is also used where the council want to give cyclists traveling westbound access to a right turn (where cyclists would otherwise have to cross three and a half lanes near a busy junction with the N11). It’s harder to fault this given the reasoning for it but it’s hardly best practice and could be done without shared use without trying too hard.

When you overuse shared use it’s too easy to fall back on it as a solution to every problem, regardless of a large percentage of pedestrians and cyclists disliking or hating it.

Another apparent flaw in the route also includes a number of misplaced cycle ramps opposite t-junctions which should allow cyclists to enter or exit the segregation from or to side roads. Below drawings of examples of such with our sketches of desired cyclists flows drawn in the orange colour…

This first image shows a correctly positioned ramp (circled in yellow):

Good example circle

The image below to the left shows a directional arrow of how the ramp is supposed to allow for cyclists traveling eastbound to turn off the main road, while the right-hand image shows a turn out of an estate road and onto the segregated cycle track to travel eastbound:

Good example off trackGood example onto track

 

The plans show a number of off-centred ramps which are not in line with the side roads, such as this one where a right turn cannot be made without some swinging around:

 

Bad example

 

How effective this design will work at junctions not controlled by traffic lights and with a turning lane in the centre is up for debate, but having the ramp locations misaligned just brings back memories of cycling infrastructure we should be beyond.

The radius of the corners shown above and else where on the drawings are not stated, but judging from the drawings these could be incompatible with guidance given in the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets — it’s unclear.

 

5 Comments

  1. Thanks for articulating a complicated situation. I used to use this route coming and going to UCD. Any improvement could only be welcomed. All those twist, turns, ups and down would leave you sea sick on the way up towards Stillorgan.
    Is there a plan to remove that lethal trap at the Coppinger Wood junction? I nearly got flattened by a car pulling out of here a couple of years ago. I still get a bit quezy when I think how close to getting creased because of really poor planning. Unfortunately I am not sure this is actually going to be much of an improvement.

    DLCoCo must have a Celtic Tiger type budget burning a hole in their pockets as they go “half assed” addressing cycling issues in the Borough.

    Has anyone tried cycling from the junction of York Road and Cumberland street to the centre of Glasthule recently? It is now an extreme Cycling experience as it combines the navigation ability of Jeremiah Johnson with the cross country ability of a mountain goat.

  2. I see in Ireland they have the same abysmal provision for cyclists as the UK, maybe a bit better actually but not much! Do they get school children to do the designs to save costs! Even the bus stop situation can easily be resolved. They have taken a slight chunk out of the centre hatching leaving the remaining hatching roughly the same width of the modified curb, why not just take the rest of the hatching thus moving the lane across to the centre (no hatching left), then the curb can remain as is and leaves space for the bus stop area where the grass is like this. http://www.transportxtra.com/files/12692-l.jpg Would even cost less as they wouldn’t need to modify the curbs and money to spend on doing the rest properly. Pleanty of room for a tried and tested proper dutch roundabout there, what Transport for London are testing at the moment. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-DDbNfkkoinw/UX-DmOUPdmI/AAAAAAAADHo/AGqXIXD0g9k/s640/Dutch+style+roundabout+test+TfL.jpg

  3. @John: The Coppinger Wood junction seems improved. The cycle track is now beyond the stop line for traffic coming out of the estate and the track is marked in red.

    Here’s an image of the project drawings showing the junction: http://cyclingindublin.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Coppinger-Wood-junction.jpg

    @David:

    Our National Cycle (design) Manual has a number of shared use and fully segragated examples of bus stop solutions: http://www.cyclemanual.ie/manual/detailsright/busstops/

    This one is much like your example: http://www.cyclemanual.ie/wp-content/uploads/5.1/5.1.5.2.3_Island-3_3D.jpg

  4. I really hope the new layout forces the cars stop at the Stop sign at Coppinger Wood junction, because at the moment they do not. Meaning because of them and the barriers you have to stop at every junction.
    I got to use the first bit of the new segregated route on Braemor Road the other night when part of it was done. It is great. Nice and wide and separated from the footpath. Haven’t been able to use it since that night as cars have been parked in it ever since. It is the perfect width for a car to park in. Hope it’s not a sign of things to come…

  5. I live beside this busy road I cycle, drive and walk it frequently. This so called improvement is to make provision for a new bus route on Stillorgan Park road and nothing more. Having cycled around the roundabout I know its dangerous, cyclists under the current plan will leave the cycle path and enter the road west of the roundabout and then have to cycle onto it. Totally unacceptable. I would prefer the existing straight run of cycle path and footpath to remain and the bus stop to be deleted. A lot of trees will be felled and this isn’t necessary. Improve the junctions and the cycle path markings and leave it much better than that proposed. Look at what happens on the N11 going north as you enter the road just before Foster’s Avenue, its an accident waiting to happen!

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