Clontarf cycle route: Councillors must demand ambitious design for all ages and abilities

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: If councillors care about making Dublin a city of cycling for all ages and abilities they must demand that the city centre to Clontarf cycle route is segregated from both motor traffic and pedestrians.

Given the confines of the route, the original two-way cycle path should be revisited.

The planned route design started off in planning as a two-way protected route but was downgraded to include mainly painted cycle lanes with conflicts at bus stops, parking spaces and turns (see our reports from July 16 and July 29 last year).

We now have more than just Dutch examples of two way cycle paths to follow. London has upgraded some of its “cycle superhighways” routes using two way cycle paths on one side of city  streets and roads, which include major and minor side roads junctions. They have found what the Dutch know: when you do it right, it works. The routes in London include CS5, the North-South Cycle Superhighway and the East West Superhighway.

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CS5 side road junction

IMAGE: A minor side road junction on London’s CS5 cycle route. Still from a video by The Ranty Highwayman.

IMAGE: A two-way cycle path in Amsterdam.

The Fairview / Clontarf route isan important one to get right. It takes in Amiens Street, North Strand Road and Fairview which is the second busiest entry point for commuters cycling into the city centre. At the last canals traffic count, only the Rathmines Road entry point had more bicycle traffic and, at that, only slightly more.

The current route in Fairview and on North Strand Road is unattractive for cycling with little dedicated space and lots of mixing with buses — if there was a safe and attractive route the potential is massive to attract a wide range of people who won’t cycle with the current poor conditions.

It is also an key route because it will be a link between a number of planned and existing off-road cycle routes — including the north section of the S2S Dublin bay route, the Royal Canal and the Liffey Route. Having low-quality gaps in that core network of cycle paths compromises the potential of the network — that’s a bad idea given that research shows that it’s the network of cycle routes — and not single routes — which attracts new people to cycling.

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Map of cycle routes

CONTEXT: The Clontarf to Amiens Street route in red, with open or soon-to-be opened two-way routes in green and planned two-way routes as follows: Liffey Cycle Route in blue; Royal Canal in yellow; Grand Canal in orange; and the Dodder Greenway in purple.

Is there space for a two-way cycle path on the Clontarf route? Yes, there is. The bridge over the Royal Canal is the main constraint but there’s already a solution for this which is approved and funded.

Generally, the draft drawings produced by council’s consultants shows that there is space for a mix of continuous unsegregated or very lightly segregated cycle lanes on both sides of the road — if there’s space for those cycle lanes and tracks, there’s space for a segregated two-way cycle path as it requires around the same or less space. Not only can a two way path can fit with less space but two way is easier to fully segregate from walking and motoring.

Using a two way path makes some junctions harder to design, but it also means you’re mainly dealing with major changes on just one side of the road and not two sides. Critically on a route like this in Dublin, that means dealing with half the amount of bus stops.

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Fairview route

IMAGE: The area on the route with a high amount of side roads — most of them are minor and some could be closed off.

London and the Netherlands show that these routes can be design without mixing cycling with walking or buses and cars. It requires good design and a willingness not to just design it the easiest way or the way it has always been done. Our question is: Are councillors willing and able to push for an ambitious design for all ages and abilities or will we get more of the same compromises?

Here’s the full video of London’s CS5 route by The Ranty Highwayman:

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