Liffey Cycle Route: A detailed look at the core city centre section

— Push to keep cars on Bachelors Walk with buses detoured from College Green causes extra squeeze.
— College Green / Luas Cross City bus priority measures around the quays included in latest cycle route drawings.
— Links on/off cycle route unclear or missing.
— Planned and possibly existing trees removed on larger scale.

COMMENT & ANALYSIS | LONG-READ: Recently we covered how the planned Liffey Cycle Route backstreet detour around the Smithfield area gets around pinch points by using footpaths and we also had an in depth look at the backstreet detour, but that’s not the only issue for the route.

Our examination of the central section of the route starts at Inns Quays at the Four Courts and goes east towards Library Hall. It should be stressed that unlikely many of flaws in the Smithfield section, the issues here are overwhelmingly fixable, although political will is needed.

The new drawings, released under a Freedom of Information request, also show the bus priority measures on and just off the quays, which are promised as part of of the Luas Cross City and College Green Plaza projects.

Key

As with previous designs, retaining two traffic lanes in front of the Four Courts will mean there’s less space for the cycle path, the quayside footpath and for greenery/ trees:

inns quay

Given the restrictions both before and ahead of this quay, the reasoning for two general lanes at the Four Courts must be viewed as weak. The reasoning against retaining the two lanes is strong:

  1. it’s unnecessarily limiting the space for walking, cycling, trees and public transport, because:
  2. there’s only one general traffic lane on the quays at both ends of this quay, and merging the traffic after the junction to the east of the Four Courts means buses get slowed or blocked;
  3. there is no major turn off at the end of Inns Quay, it’s one-way northbound so motorists can’t turn into it;
  4. the next bridge, at Capel Street, will have limited appeal — two of the three lanes are set be be turned into bus lanes, and Parliament Street will be bus-only;
  5. Jervis Street won’t be able to handle large volumes of extra traffic and, even if it was, very large extra volumes turning off the quays would block buses on the quays.
  6. Private traffic will not be able to travel onto or past O’Connell Bridge, motorists will only be able to turn into O’Connell Street (the bottom half of which will be shared with buses and trams running  on-street).

So, what exactly is the need for two traffic lanes at the Four Courts? Getting in the way of buses and having false capacity to feed more traffic into the streets ahead when no route ahead can handle much traffic?

Retaining the two lanes seems to be more about the optics of providing for motoring, rather than providing for motoring in any notable way.

Moving on… Given that the Liffey Cycle Route payment on the north quays and the new layout with contra-flow bus lane on Winetavern St, the cycling provision on both the O’Donovan Rossa Bridge and Winetavern St is left in a miserable state, with a narrow unprotected advisory cycle lane:

O'Donovan Rossa Bridge

On the O’Donovan Rossa Bridge and Winetavern St a two-way cycle path could be introduced. It could look like this on the typical section of Winetavern St: These two drawings are unofficial suggestions:

Winetavern Street

And like this at the pinch point at the top of the Winetavern St: Again, this is an unofficial suggestion:

Winetavern Street narrow

East of the four courts, we would suggest a signalised crossing out of Charles Street West and into the cycle route: this would allow for direct access to the route from the residential areas along the quays and north of them at this point:

Charles Street West

On Ormond Quay, west of Capel Street, the route seems to be reasonable.

Ormond Quay

At Grattan Bridge (also known as Capel Street bridge) is links Capel Street and Parliament Street.

In this image we see some of the first of the private motoring restrictions previously not shown on the Liffey Cycle Route drawings and not really part of this project but linked to Luas Cross City and the College Green Plaza. These are: a bus-only Parliament Street, three of the two lanes on the bridge changed to bus lanes (including a contra-flow bus lane), and new and extended bus lanes on the south quays.

We also see what was planned cycling space on the bridge and Parliament Street turned into bus lanes:

Grattan Bridge at Capel Street

On Ormond Quay near the Millennium Bridge, there is a significant removal of trees compared to what was planned in previous plans published for the route:

Jervis Street

Because extra bus routes will be diverted onto the quays, this means this means more bus stop space will be needed past the Millennium Bridge.

The original plan for Luas and the College Green Plaza bus diversions was to have a bus-only section of the quays starting well before O’Connell Street, but lobbying pressure from the retail / car park owner’s demands on allowing cars up to O’Connell Street won out.

The next few images show how skilfully the engineers have responded in fitting so much into the space along the quays. However, many more buses and the polictal disision to maintain car traffic at this point will mean more footfall and little or no allowances have been made for wider footpaths or maintaining a decent width cycle path:

Jervis Street -- close up

At the Ha’Penny Bridge it gets a bit crowded:

Ha-penny Bridge

Here’s the Ha’Penny Bridge junction zoomed in:


On Bachelors Walk, the detour of buses away from the College Green Plaza also means extra space for buses is needed, but the bus lanes and general traffic lanes could be reduced in width to allow for a wider cycle path — by shaving the bus lane down to 3 metres and the general lane down to 2.8 metres, than there can be 0.5 metres of usable space added to the cycle path:

Bachelor-s Walk cross section

The above cross section is remarkably different than the previously published design for aroundt the same location:

Bachelors-Walk-cross-section-A1-10

Achieving a sub-optimal width for the cycle path is also not the main victim here:

Bachelor-s Walk

…It’s the removal of trees and previously planned new trees:

Bachelors-Walk old

Here’s the junction of the quays and O’Connell Bridge:

(Note: The south quays here are looked at in more detail further on in this article)

O-Connell Bridge

Little indication currently included how people cycling from the west or from the east will turn into O’Connell Bridge northbound or O’Connell Bridge southbound:

Are there better ways? Can just a small bit of the new footpath space on the less-busy east side of the bridge (right hand footpath here) be used for a two-way cycle path line to Westmoreland Street and onto College Green? Should a two-way cycle path via D’Olier Street and College Street be looked at?

Beyond O’Connell the drawing shows how it will only be bus lanes on the quays eastbound: these is new footpath space (blue dotted lines) and wide bus lanes, but no indication of a decent buffer between the cycle path and the bus lanes or turning lane space for cycling:
Eden Quay

Eden Quay looks like one of the better sections, but the cycle path width looks close to 3 metres when it could be wider:

Eden Quay 2

Liberty Hall junction

The railway tracks shown in the last image (the loop line at Custom House) is as far east as the drawings we obtained cover. The following cover some of the details shown in the draft drawings for the south quays:

At the south of O’Connell Bridge, the link between the Liffey Cycle Route and the two-way path on Westmorland Street (shown in yellow) is not straightforward and should be fully segregated (ie not including two German-like turns waiting mid junction in front of traffic). The Westmorland Street cycle path is key as it feeds into College Green:

O-Connell Bridge -- area south of

Other details could be worked on to include further segregation:

Burgh Quay

Links to/from the Liffey Cycle Route are also poor or missing at Tara Street:

Tara Street junction

Overall there’s a lot in the route but key to making it work is getting junctions to work — allowing cyclists to get on and off the route without dismounting or sharing space on footpaths.

The FOI files can be viewed on Google Drive here.

3 Comments

  1. Kevin O'Farrell August 4, 2016 at 10:41 am

    This looks like the minority who own and use the car parks in this area are holding up real progress by continuing to remain in the last century in their sheer bloody mindedness. Providing for motor cars only just keeps encouraging it.

    Why should Dublin City Council continue to pander to this minority ? The majority of people accessing area travel by other means besides the private motor car, yet they are the ones who are being squeezed out. The business lobbies rant on about paying rates, ignoring that the people of the city also pay taxes and charges too. The council seems to be afraid to show real leadership here by actually standing up for the needs of all the citizens of the city.

  2. AS it currently stands, the cycle route is not good enough. There are too many missing links and dangerous junctions.

    Also taking down existing trees and deciding against planting the proposed new ones in order to facilitate motor vehicles is ridiculous and environmentally regressive.

  3. If the majority of road traffic goes downriver on the Northside and upriver n the south side, why are there no plans to have single lane bike lanes north and south travelling with the traffic, like Copenahgen.

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