Council pushes buses and trucks into cycle lane to aid traffic flow

— Buses and trucks veering into cycle lane is part of new design
— Consultants, councillor, and campaigner voice safety concerns
— Motorised access to schools one of main barriers to blocking turn

A junction at the eastern of the Blackrock bypass walking and cycle route project in Dublin is to be redesigned ìn a way which will direct drivers of large vehicles to encroach into a cycle lane. The works at the junction of Newtownpark Avenue and Stradbrook Road are due to get underway on Monday, without open public consultation.

Dun Laoghaire Cllr Ossian Smyth (Green Party) said: “They are doing this in the full knowledge that this will endanger cyclists by obliging trucks and buses to mount the cycle lane… I am very disappointed that the executive intends to proceed with this change given that the advice is so clear that to do so will increase the risk of serious injury or loss of life of vulnerable road-users.”

Cllr Smith said, “The proposed change is actually more dangerous than the previous alignment as it gives cyclists the impression that they have a lane when in fact they are liable to be rear-ended at any time by a car or bus switching lane.”

As part of the original walking and cycle route project — officially named the Frascati Road/Temple Hill Improvement Scheme — a long right hand turning lane was removed from western approach to the junction to provide space for cycling. The traffic lights were also changed so that traffic coming from all three arms of the t-junction had separate green light phases so that the eastbound right turning traffic could turn without conflicting with other traffic.

The council said that the previous works, completed in August 2015, has resulted in queuing on both outbound and inbound car and bus traffic and has impacted on the nearby Temple Hill and Monkstown Road junction, and added to queuing on the Monkstown Road.

In an email to councillors, John Broderick, a senior executive engineer with the transport section of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, said: “As DLRCC has received representations from both the public and elected representatives in relation to this issue since completion of the scheme and further to commitments given to review the operation of the junction , it was decided to request the Design Consultants for the scheme, AECOM , to review the operation of the junction and provide options to mitigate some of the issues arising from the current phasing.”

He added: “The proposed layout will be closely monitored in terms of both vehicular movement and pedestrian / cyclist movement with a view to optimising its operation while balancing the needs of all modes.”

In a report, consultants told the council that the new design would include a “greater potential for a collision with a cyclist using the lane”.

The report stated that because of the narrow width of planned turning and traffic lanes, that: “It can be seen that the bus proceeding in the outbound direction towards Stradbrook Road must move into the adjacent cycle lane to pass the stationary vehicles. As such, there is greater potential for a collision with a cyclist using the lane when compared to the existing scenario. It is likely that the level of service currently on offer to cyclists at present would decrease as a result.”

(article continues after image) 

cycle lane bus route

IMAGE: Lines and arrows tracking of a how a bus would have to drive into the cycle lane to pass when four cars are in the right hand turning lane (blue highlighting by IrishCycle.com).

Cllr Smyth said the original project was supposed to be about providing safe space for cycling: “This junction has for years been a dangerous place for children on foot or cycling to school with increasing volumes of fast moving car traffic. The council received 100% funding from the NTA in 2013 with the aim of making the road safer for cyclists and pedestrians.”

“The redesigned road provided a cycle lane in each direction balanced by the loss of some road space for cars. After construction, and following complaints from drivers that their journeys were taking longer, the council executive has unilaterally decided to squeeze back in an additional lane for cars,” Cllr Smyth said.

He added: “Their own consulting engineers have warned them in writing of the increased risk of cyclist collisions. The real priorities of the transportation department is revealed by this action. They still believe that their job is to move cars rather than people around our city.”

Alternatives 

Cllr Smyth suggests two alternatives. He said: “As alternatives to having fast moving cars mounting a cycle path, I suggest that either: the right turning lane be removed altogether and southbound traffic instead would use the junction at Monkstown ring road. This would allow traffic to flow freely but marginally increase trip distance for some destinations. Or that the current system be allowed to continue as it permits an increase in the volume of cycle traffic at the expense of a loss of car volume which is in line with national and local policy.”

According to Google Maps the detour required to ban the right turn for general traffic would take around 5 minutes generally but between 5 and 9 minutes at some peak times.

He added: “Remember that we are trying to maximise the number of people through the junction — not the number of cars.”

Keith Byrne, a local cycling campaigner and current chairman of the Dublin Cycling Campaign, said: “There is no space for the right turning lane, and the cycle lane should be segregated.”

He said: “Visiting the Netherlands last year showed me how poor we design junctions for cycling.” He said that users of cycling routes in Ireland are “dumped out onto the road” where is is most important to have protected space.

Access to schools 

On the original removal of the right turning lane, the consultant’s report said that a full ban on right turning cars was recommended.

The report said: “The impact of the loss of the right turning lane is most pronounced in the PM peak when the majority of traffic is in the outbound direction and queuing is experienced as expected during the evening commute. However, queuing and congestion is also experienced in the outbound direction between 08:30 & 09:15.”

It added: “Whilst these impacts were predicted in traffic modelling undertaken before the construction of the scheme, the recommended solution to the queuing, namely the prohibition of the right turn to Newtownpark Avenue, was not considered acceptable by the public who wished retain the pre–scheme levels of accessibility to the schools and other amenities on Newtownpark Avenue.”

IMAGE: A wider view of the new layout, work is planned to start on Monday

IMAGE: A wider view of the new layout showing the tracking of how a bus might go straight on or turn right, work is planned to start on Monday

new layout 2

IMAGE: The planned new layout with the old turning point shown in red.

 

14 Comments

  1. Well, if this redesign goes ahead it’ll be very revealing as to what’s being prioritized. People in dangerous, polluting, noisy metal boxes are prioritized above everything else. How does this proposed redesign make our city more livable?

  2. I have been living in the Dun Laoghaire area for over 50 years and it is seldom that the Council actually do anything positive for the ordinary people of area. The Frascati Road/Temple Hill Improvement Scheme has provided a degree of protection for cyclists and has to be applauded as a success. The news that this is to be downgraded, at further cost to the taxpayer, is not all that surprising. The vast sums of money spend on the Killiney Road Roundabout and the “Lexicon” are examples of the spend thrift nature of DLRDCoCo.

    However, in my opinion, as a safety professional, whoever signs off as Project Supervisor Design Process (PSCS) on the re-design of the road layout is leaving themselves open to prosecution under that SHAWW Act 2005 (Construction Regulations 2013) as anyone being injured would have a prima facia case as to the safety of said design. I do wonder has the council considered the implications for its officers of being found guilty under that act as it carries a maximum sentence of 2 years in jail and/or a €3,000,000 fine?

    Maybe they should consider legal advice before proceeding?

  3. I call on the road authority to publish its road safety audit report for this scheme.
    Who undertook it? Was that person independent of the design team?
    Is the auditor evaluating it from a cycling safety perspective as required under guidance.
    Please publish the audit report on-line.
    Are DoTTAS, NTA and TII requiring audits for schemes they are funding?
    All these questions need to be answered by the funders.

  4. A cyclist’s life is worth far more than a miserable 5-9 minutes extra in a warm car, doing the safe alternative. This would’nt happen in the Netherlands. Also a fair point about design-liability in the event of an accident.

  5. A very long and detailed analysis of a limited POTENTIAL problem at a single junction. The changes implemented under the existing design are creating a serious traffic hazard on both sides of the junction. I’m a cyclist myself but also a motorist and there’s no question it’s in everyone’s interest to get this junction working properly. Wake up guys it’s not all about cyclists….

  6. @Dalkeyprogress — who said it’s “all about the cyclists”? What part of what anybody has said amounts to that?

    And how is directing buses and trucks into a cycle lane used by everybody from school children to commuters only a potential problem?

    As per the article, there is a suggested alternative which would keep the traffic flowing without increasing the risk for people cycling.

  7. Dear dalkeyprogress, I agree with Cian Ginity – no one said it should be “all about the cyclists”? I too am a motorist with a full drivers licence for over 30 years with experience driving a variety of vehicles and a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists just for good measure. So you can take it that I am awake and I can tell you that it seldom is ever “about cyclists”, especially in this country.
    If the junction needs to be re-designed especially with yet more tax payers money it should be done with balance, however if this can’t be accommodated safely, particularly for the most vulnerable of road users, then the current status quo should prevail until cost effective alternatives can be provided. If alternatives include closing off the right hand turn up Newtown Park Ave., then so be it. Motor vehicles can cope with a minor diversion better than having cyclists or pedestrians put at risk.

  8. @Dalkeyprogress For me it’s about making our cities more livable and safe, and not ‘all about the cyclists’ (it just so happens that walking and cycling are compatible with safe and livable environments). Having that right turn is ‘all about the motorists’ as far as I can see because it doesn’t facilitate a safe road space. I’d favor getting rid of the right turn, but if not, I’d definitely be against having dangerous vehicles encroaching on vulnerable road users, which is what they seem to be planning.

  9. Just to add, the proposed change won’t just be a ‘potential’ problem; it most definitely will be a problem.

    Perhaps you regard it as a problem only when people are killed or injured. In that case, yes, perhaps no-one will ever be killed or injured if the proposed change goes ahead. But having a livable city is so much more than such a low-bar standard. Having dangerous vehicles encroaching on vulnerable road users at this spot makes it much more scary and off-putting for non-motorised road users at that spot. Therefore you’ll have absolutely no older vulnerable people daring to use their bikes there; you’ll have reduced numbers of able-bodied men using their bikes there; you’ll have much less women using their bikes there, and you’ll have zero children using their bikes there. Is none of that a problem for you? It certainly is for me, so no, it’s not a ‘potential’ problem. It is an actual problem.

    And if you extend such thinking out city-wide about which mode of transport has priority (at the moment it’s cars) then you end up with the situation we have now. Old people never going out on bikes. Kids not playing on the streets. Kids not walking or cycling to school on their own. A pitiful proportion of women cycling. Disabled people not daring to venture anywhere.

    It’s not all about the cars you know.

  10. The key issue post #COP21 is that from now on all our planning for traffic has to be to promote active travel modes and do nothing with traffic management that won’t make junctions safe for the 8-80 age range.
    The old ways can’t continue.

  11. The local authorities, and our political leaders, need to be upfront and clear. The goal is to bring about a change in culture and behaviour, which will result in people choosing to walk or cycle instead of drive. It appears to me that the road layout introduced last year has not been given enough time, or perhaps Blackrock is simply not ready for it.

    At some stage we (the constituents) need to realise, or be told, that change has to take place in order to achieve our other goals relating to the environment and sustainable transport.

  12. The Engineers Ireland Code of ethics section 1.9
    At all times in their relations with the public, Members shall
    apply their skill and experience to the common good and the
    advancement of human welfare with proper regard for the
    safety, health and welfare of the public. A Member shall not
    engage in any activity which he/she knows or has reasonable
    grounds for believing is likely to result in a serious detriment
    to any person or persons.

    Engineers Ireland Byelaw 17.1
    Members shall act in accordance with proper professional
    standards and shall order their conduct in such a manner
    as to uphold the dignity, standing and reputation of
    Engineers Ireland. Members shall observe and comply
    with all regulations and with the Code of Ethics.

    Probably hard to be a road engineer without a charter.

  13. Any update on this story? What’s going to happen?

  14. I would also like to know if any decisions have been made.Thanks.

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