Upgrade plans for the Blackrock bypass in Co Dublin includes left slips turns which one state agency branded a “significant risk” to pedestrians and cyclists.
Two sets of design guidelines recommend removing these slips from urban areas.
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, in a report on the plans, says that it is “committed to providing high quality pedestrian and cycle facilities” and that the upgrade is design to “improve the pedestrian and cycle facilities”.
However, the council’s plans for Frascati Road and Temple Hill goes against guidelines covering slips turns, having pedestrian crossings on all legs of junctions, and omitting staggered crossings.
Slip junctions are retained at a number of locations, including at Mount Merrion Avenue, at the main access to Frascati Shopping Centre, and access points into and out of Blackrock Village — just one slip junction along the route is to be removed and another is to be converted into bus-only.
Slip turns allow motorists to quickly turn on or off a road, however the Manual for Urban Streets and Roads, issued jointly by the departments of transport and environment, says that slip turns “generally provide little extra effective vehicular capacity”, expose “pedestrians and cyclists to greater danger” and “increases the number of crossings pedestrians must navigate.”
Other official advice in the National Cycle Manual, produced by the National Transport Authority (NTA), says that the slips turns “often gives drivers an unreasonable sense of priority,” allows “vehicles to take corners at higher speeds” and “restricts views of cyclists and pedestrians”.
Last year Hugh Creegan, director of planning and investment at the NTA, wrote to the council about another upgrade project saying:
“The scheme should reconsider the need to provide left slip lanes as part of the scheme. Conflicts between large turning vehicles and cyclists/pedestrians on left slips present a significant risk. Side swipes can a also occur with weaving vehicular traffic.
The Manual for Urban Streets and Roads recommends that designers of new or upgrade road schemes should:
Omit left turn slips, which generally provide little extra effective vehicular capacity but are highly disruptive for pedestrians and cyclists.
The Manual for Urban areas adds: “Where demand warrants, they may be replaced with left tuning lanes with tighter corner radii” and the NTA says: “Should it be necessary to retain the dedicated slip lanes, at a minimum these could be converted into signal controlled turning pockets, as opposed to merge based designs (as currently shown).”
Of the left turn slips currently in place controlled by a yield sign or a flashing amber traffic light, adjustments are to be made on some to narrow approaches or radii, but most are to be retained as merge-based turns against advice from the NTA and departments.
Advice on pedestrian crossings in the Manual for Urban Streets and Roads also says to omit staggered/staged crossings, where pedestrians are not directed straight across the road or where traffic lights only show a ‘green man’ for part of the way across the junction, forcing people to wait a number of times to cross one road.
The drawings not only show that many staggered crossing are retained — largely due to the slip turns — but that at least two non-staggered crossing away from slip turns are to be changed to staggered ones. This is not only a case of not implementing the guidelines, but it does the opposite of what is recommended. The Manual for Urban Streets and Roads notes:
“Safety concerns regarding pedestrian crossings should also be viewed in the context of pedestrian behaviour. Research has found that pedestrians are less likely to comply with the detour/delay created by staggered crossings, leading to unsafe crossing behaviour. It will generally be more desirable, from a safety point of view, to provide a direct single phase crossing.”
Some cyclists and pedestrians are also likely to be unhappy with other details. This includies crossing and short sections of footpaths which are due to be shared between cyclists and pedestrians — generally referred to as “shared use” paths. Campaigners representing cyclists and people who are blind are on record as being against mixing pedestrians and cyclists in this way on main roads.
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council says that the proposed dedicated cycle facilities along the length of the scheme will be of a high quality and “will be in accordance with the recommendations in the National Cycle Manual”.
The council’s public consultation on the plans runs until Monday 21st October 2013. Drawings and supporting documents are online at dlrcoco.ie. Submissions and observations can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.