Dublin cyclists: Council’s defence of this should make you worry about College Green Plaza plan

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: Sometimes people only see cycle route and other projects in their own areas as affecting them, and don’t pay too much attention to issues in other areas. But you then miss the trends.

The re-design of the street outside Kilmainham Gaol, know as the Kilmainham Civic Space, is to be officially opened this morning. The €2.6 million project is part of Dublin City Council’s 1916 commemorative programme and, we agree with the council, that they were successful in improving the street’s appearance and making it more pedestrian friendly. The design was apparently also to encourage “greater levels of walking and cycling”.

A press release trumpeting the cycling credentials of the scheme is an insult to residents and commuters who have complained about the cycling provision and it shows their concerns are being ignored — just like the concerns of the NCBI and the Dublin Cycling Campaign were ignored before and while the scheme was constructed. It’s just like years of complaints about illegal parking with the old layout were also ignored when designing the cycling elements of the new layout.

Before visiting the finished scheme, I didn’t even think it would be as bad residents and commuters told me it was. People said it was worse than before for cycling, I not sure I fully understood that until after I visited the re-designed street.

Making the visit on a Sunday and with limited time on my hand, I was expecting it to be quiet and not see the full effect of parking or infractions into the cycle lane or other issues. How wrong I was.

Dublin City Council yesterday claimed the project was “designed to address road safety issues” on the street, yet their design includes (1) a contra-flow cycle lane on a busy street left unprotected and with car parking spaces inside the contra-flow cycle lane, (2) that cycle lane ending by dumping cyclists into a shared footpath area, and (2) with flow cyclists left to mix with buses and coaches in a narrow general traffic lane. Can you guess what points 1 and 3 add up to?

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…It adds up to many cyclists using the contra-flow cycle lane in the wrong direction because no space for cycling is provided with-flow — unless you view bicycle logos painted where a frequent amount of buses are designed to go space for cycling?

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In the short time we visited the street, most cyclists were cycling the wrong way down the contra-flow lane:

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The driver behavior was worse:

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A coach stopped without fully pulling into the bus stop means that there’s little space is left for overtaking it:

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So, when a bus comes along…

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…other drivers try to overtake and…

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…they use the cycle lane to do so:

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But the bus is also in a hurry too, so the driver — with his view of any cyclist in the lane obscured by the van in front — cuts past another driver and veers into the cycle lane:

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The van and jeep were together, so the contra-flow cycle lane a little further on is the perfect place to regroup:

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And we turn around to see nearly the exact same sequence happening again:

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As I cycled along the contra-flow lane, this driver tried to reverse into me where the cycle lane veers behind the car parking space:

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Good idea that, putting a cycle lane across an entrance and right behind a parking spot?! Here’s the view when the street was a little quieter for a short time:

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While the paving looks great and conditions have improved for pedestrians crossing the road, the design of the carriageway and routing of the cycle route all seems disjointed and messy. An example of this mess is a cycle track sign showing the start of a cycle lane sharing a poll with a shared use footpath sign — the cycle lane can’t legally or practically be both a dedicated lane and also shared:

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Below is how the scheme merges with the old unprotected two-way cycle lane. It shows that our suggested alternative design of a protected two-way cycle path would have only take up around the same space as the new contra-flow cycle lane and its not-very-effective buffer:

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What has any of this got to do with the planned College Green Plaza? Well, we’re told, no cycle path detail across the planned plaza can be confirmed at this stage because the “multi-disciplinary” team will be looking after the design of the plaza — after tax ranks, loading bays, bus and tram spaces are all decided on on Dame Street.

Yesterday a Dublin City Council press release on the Kilmainham scheme said: “The project was designed and delivered by a multi-disciplinary team within Dublin City Council.” …Does that sound familiar?

But the whole multi-disciplinary team element isn’t new. That was also the approach taken with the Rialto Area Improvement Scheme, five minutes down the road. It includes having people on bicycles directed onto footpaths on a very urban roundabout and mixes people cycling bicycles with people walking and gathering just outside shop and pub doors. It also suffers regular illegally parked cars. Much like the Kilmainham scheme in a slightly different setting.

Unless Dublin City Council starts learning from their own work, deja vecu will be on the menu again and again. Can the city please stop ignoring constructive criticism? Can it please stop mixing walking and cycling and stop avoiding Dutch-quality segregation as if it’s the plague?

READ MORE:

Sight loss charity asks Dublin City Council to stop mixing cycling and walking

Cycle lane concerns ignored by Dublin City Council leads to predictable results

Alternative design for Kilmainham Civic Space with space for cycling possible

19 Comments

  1. Perhaps similar to the free-the-cycle-lanes hastag, we should set up a twitter page highlighting all the terrible and frankly downright dangerous cycling ‘infrastructure’ around Dublin.

    You know the sort – cyclelanes that come to an abrupt stop at a brick wall, cyclelanes that suddenly end without warning forcing cyclists directly into busy traffic lanes, cyclelanes which supposedly provide a route between two traffic lanes but instead which are used as a left turn for traffic (Fairview, Donnybrook), cyclelanes with lamp-post right in the middle, cyclelanes with busstops in the middle, cyclelanes that have large volumes of left turning traffic in them, cyclelanes that continuously have to ceed priority to traffic coming from side streets. And so on and so forth.

  2. Quite awful. Even worse than originally, when I encountered a taxi driver driving on the cycle track and taking me to task for “cycling the wrong way”.

    As you say, Rialto is also preposterous, but not as potentially dangerous as this. Someone using the cycle track correctly in Kilmainham is sooner or later going to have a head-on collision with a driver overtaking a bus.

  3. The SCR through Kilmainham and down over the Liffey is also woeful. It has an ‘optional’ bike lane. In other words, not really a bike lane. Consequently, it’s full of parked cars at the shops, and the rest of it is 2-lane vehicles. All the ‘optional’ bike lanes do, is train car drivers to ignore bike lanes.

  4. The main source of the issues here are that the key decision makers in Dublin City Council don’t cycle. If they cycled they’d understand the implications of the poor design they are signing off on…
    Even if they were to cycle these routes after implementation as a post mortem of the bad design – perhaps that could be a start?
    Is there a list of senior road designers names who were responsible for this mess available? Not asking for such a list to be posted, just wondering if they can be contacted somehow.

    Another question to put to the people who sign off on these designs – would they be happy with their son/daughter/niece/nephew cycling along these routes? I’d love to hear the response to that one

  5. I wholeheartedly agree with Austin99. I’ve repeatedly heard from people at work that they’d like to cycle …..but they don’t because they’re afraid to, and so they drive, compounding the problem :( But what’s the chances of getting those responsible out on this cycle-infrastructure-not? And in the absence of that – how do we educate those responsible who are ignorant of the danger they put us all in?

    Would people contribute to a Twitter page highlighting such issues?

  6. I think all thinking cyclists are agreed that the Kilmainham public space design is deficient in a number of respects. Through Dublin City Cycling/Walking committee we continually requested changes to the design, as the original design was developed before 2009, and before the National Cycle Manual was published. No satisfactory answer was received. There was no proper engagement!

    It is also worth noting that the adopted GDA Cycle Network has also been ignored in directing all cyclists heading west towards Phoenix Park, and not through Royal Hospital or along Kilmainham Lane, as envisaged in the GDA Cycle Network!

  7. I spent last week on a slow-bike ride for 300 km around the Veneto region of NE Italy. I was expecting poor and hazardous provision for cyclists as I had never cycled there before. Most of my time in Italy has been spent mountaineering in the Dolomite Alps. My route took our group clockwise out of Vicenza via Bassano del Grappa-Asolo-Montebelluna-Treviso-Mestre-Venezia-Chioggia-Padova and back to Vicenza. They are all Medieval cities.
    The extent of protected/grade-separated cycle tracks in the urban areas was impressive.
    A lot of use of hedgehogs/armadillos as well as kerbs and hoops keeps vehicles away from cyclists.
    We are being sold-short by our road authorities. We don’t count.
    In my view we need to protest from now on. The softly, softly approach has failed.

  8. eddie the eagle June 1, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    It very simple, DON’T USE CYCLE LANES.
    They might get the message eventually and when on busy and dangerous roads take possession of the road, I call it defensive cycling (bus and lorry drivers do this to stop cars from overtaking in dangerous places).
    cycle lanes are way to dangerous to cycle in, so I simply don’t use them. Its common sense
    safe driving is slow driving. and speeding car drivers need to cop on, persons are more important than getting home from work to catch neighbors.
    No respect for what is becoming the majority.

  9. How many would turn up for a mass cycle through of the city center?

  10. @eddie the eagle – that’s fine for experienced cyclists, not so good for the less experienced or those starting out. In fact it will put off those starting out and they will deem cycling as “scary” :(

  11. eddie the eagle – as Citizen Wolf says we are trying to get inexperienced commuters to reach for the bike to get to work, college and school. They know nothing about controlling the lane. Many are too afraid to interact with traffic so segregation is needed if we are to entice these folks out.

  12. “How many would turn up for a mass cycle through of the city center?” – To protest about cyclists being ignored? Very few I would guess…

    It will probably take a high profile death (or two) to instigate change unfortunately — then new road designs will be implemented at a much higher cost than it would have cost to do it properly in the first place

  13. @Eddie While I certainly sympathise with your attitude that cyclists need to be more assertive on the roads – it just doesn’t work for some people. Some people just won’t cycle (either on the road or in the crappy ‘cycle-lanes’) because they’re terrified. Would you let a 10-year old out alone unsupervised on Dublin roads? If not (and I hope you wouldn’t) then you’ll see that the road-design has failed – it’s not really about being more assertive. We need to make the roads safe for everyone.

    And the frustrating thing is that this isn’t just about safety. Cycling within urban areas is just more efficient than private cars. More people can be moved per unit area on bikes than in cars. And the cycle infrastructure is cheaper to build. And the infrastructure is cheaper to maintain. And it’s healthier. And it’s safer. And it’s less noisy and stressful. And it’s more inclusive (old & young & disabled get more freedom). And it’s better for clean air. And it’s better for climate change.

    What is up with politicians and those in charge???

  14. Daragh O'Toole June 2, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    Interesting article. My office is right beside the new civic space so I’ve had time to observe cyclist, pedestrian and driver behaviour. Some random thoughts…

    There doesn’t seem to have been any attempt to look at how Dublin Bike users (there is a DB Bay just past the Gaol) interact with the scheme. Mostly DB traffic is heading back towards the city. DB users invariably cycle on the path back to the junction, rather than crossing the road and using the contraflow. Lazy, confused or just the path of least resistance?

    No practical attempt to accommodate Taxi Drivers. Kilmainham Goal is now one of the most popular visitor attractions in the city and taxi drivers are inevitably going to try and generate business here – which is fair enough. There is a new rank with 2 or 3 spaces, but it’s across the other side of the junction beside the Patriot Inn. Out of line of sight of anyone attempting to find a Taxi. So in practice what happens is that Taxi drivers squeeze into the drop off point beside the Hilton, sit in the two disabled spaces just beyond there, or sit in the Contraflow bike lane.

    Every few hours one of the local community Guards moves them on but I’ve seen no fines or tickets issued. And too be honest I think it would be unfair to do so. Most of the drivers have been picking up fares from here for years – and obviously weren’t involved in any consultations on this scheme.

  15. I’ve gotten a DB from that location a couple of times. Each time I have crossed the road and been frustrated that it is so difficult to go down Kilmainham Lane from there and I either need to go down to Con Colbert Road, where there is no right turn, and do a box turn or walk across the pedestrian lights.

    No sympathy for taxi drivers. They are already breaking the rules by touting for business somewhere other than a taxi rank. If they are blocking either the cycle lane or the handicapped spaces I’m pretty outraged that the guards aren’t doing anything about them.

  16. Austin99
    **To protest about cyclists being ignored? Very few I would guess…**

    Lol – the image of any group protesting because they’re being ignored….. and people just ignore their protest.

    Unfortunately you’re probably right. Unless we had a few thousand people turn up at once, it would probably be a farce. smh.

  17. I cycle here every day (I use the contra flow-eastbound and arrive at this scheme). Mostly I avoid the suggested shared space path that veers to the left and look for a gap in traffic to navigate to the right. Then I invariably wait at the shared cycle/pedestrian lights (which is fine), cross the road and continue down Kilmainham Lane. Kilmainham Lane should be a great quiet street on which to cycle, but that’s another story.

    The real ‘fun’ at the Kilmainham Gaol plaza is westbound (as pointed out in the article). I use the ‘official’ path in this case (sharing with motor vehicles). More often than not I get caught up in some sort of tourist bus situation (either they are blocking the way, or pulling out without really looking, or else I actually pass them fine but a short stretch down the street they catch up and attempt a dangerous pass at this point right where it gets very narrow: https://www.google.com/maps/@53.3423372,-6.3126489,52m/data=!3m1!1e3 ).

    The only encouraging thing I can say is that as far as I can see there are loads of cyclists in the area and I believe that it is starting to have an effect on the general behaviour of most car drivers.

  18. elainesnowden June 8, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    I use the Kilmainham Civic Space multiple times a week and last Wednesday a guy in a car beeped at me for being in the left lane. Y’know, the one with the giant bicycles & arrows painted in it. Apparently, I should have been cycling the wrong way along the contraflow lane :/ Why on earth didn’t the council continue the existing two-lane cycle-track down to the junction? Taking a small bit of room from the open plaza to fully segregate it would have made a world of difference.

  19. @elainesnowden I’ve had the same on Newtown Avenue in Blackrock, Dublin. It’s really disheartening sometimes… I just want to get from A to B on my bike. Why do other people have to make it such a stressful chore?

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