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:
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):
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:
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:
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.