Why is Dublin City still pedaling misinformation on the Clontarf to City Centre Cycle Route?

IMAGE: Two-way cycle paths on urban streets and roads is a design often used in cycling-friendly Dutch cities, especially where space is confined and is in high demand.

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: Dublin City Council’s plans for the Clontarf to City Centre Cycle Route does not have a good history of consultation — at the pre-consultation stage, the council’s consultants claimed they talked to the Dublin Cycling Campaign when they didn’t, and, at the formal public consultation, the council dismissed removal of iconic trees in Fairview, clearly a mistake.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) is effectively pushing councillors to approve some of its experimental bus rapid transit design. Basically, the council and NTA are putting an undefined and as-of-yet unjustified level of bus priority over basic cycling safety.

But, under the NTA’s vision, conventional buses will have to squeeze into the flow of people on bicycles to get to bus stops. The NTA obsession with this unproven design is why the council is so dismissive of providing a decent level of segregated. People cycling this route are possibly literally being throw under the bus in this design.

IrishCycle.com’s position on this was first informed by the city’s original cycling officer when the project was first developed, then from looking at some of the best examples of two-way cycle paths in London and the Netherlands, and, finally, seeing the poor motivating factors why the council switched from its original plan to the poor quality plan now outlined by the council.

As we reported at the start of September, Brendan O’Brien, the council’s head of traffic services, claimed that to accommodate a two-way cycle path, side roads between Annesley Bridge and Newcomen Bridge would have to be signalised

But this is at odds with the design of recent high-quality designs in the UK and the Netherlands. So, we wrote to O’Brian and Owen Keegan, the council’s CEO, with examples of two-way paths in Amsterdam and London with minor junctions without signalisation. No reply yet — the council was busy briefing councillors with more misinformation. These images were part of a presentation to councillors within the last week:

So, the council are talking up the risk of minor of short, low-volume and dead end streets. But nothing about the far greater risks from mixing bicycles and buses at bus stops or the major risk of left turning motorists at unprotected junctions. The NTA and council washes their hands of this by removing the segregation before the stops and junctions, but this doesn’t remove the risk.

And, of course, motorists never wait on cycle lanes when such are not segregated or when only one-way.

Examples of two-way cycle path with uncontrolled side streets

Prins Hendrikkade in Amsterdam is similar in traffic levels to North Strand Road, especially the section of the Prins Hendrikkade which has only a two-way cycle path on one side. It has a number of uncontrolled side streets inside the street’s two-way cycle path.

The below images from Prins Hendrikkade are stills and links to Street View (and you can also find a video of it here on YouTube).

Example 1:

Example 2:

Example 3:

Example 4:

Example 5:

Bonus example: Video of London route with minor side streets:

Some of the above examples have buffer space (which is the ideal situation), but most of the examples don’t. And Prins Hendrikkade is just one example — you can also find side streets on the two-way routes in different parts of the Netherlands and London.

There was no elaboration as to why Dublin would have to signalise such minor side streets when high-quality two-way routes elsewhere have non-signalised junctions at minor side streets. Where there is alternative access, other cities also look at limiting side street access to cycling and walking only, this should be possable at 1-4 locations on the full route, and it could be left till after the route is in place if issues arise.

 

If the council is not willing to provide two-way, then they could do high-quality one-way cycle paths. But cycle paths on both sides brings up more issues, including:

  • more left turn conflicts at the mid-sized and larger, higher volume junctions where the higher danger is and which would be harder to address without impacting more on buses / the kerb-side BRT and general traffic.
  • more turns into more side roads on the west side which are far longer streets and also not dead ends.
  • twice the number of bus stops to deal with (bus stops on two sides rather than just one).
  • poor effective cycle path widths without taking more space or lanes away from other uses (two-way provides more effective space)
  • poor ability to buffer all parking / loading without taking space / lanes from elsewhere.
  • poor ability to extend route from its planned end point at Connolly Station to the quays to meet the Liffey Cycle Route (a two-way path would be far easier to link directly via the Custom House one-way system).

The best way to address the above and other issues is a Dutch-quality two-way cycle path — surely the council can stand up to the NTA on this?

7 Comments

  1. Are you trying to scare the living daylights out of our poor councilors with that video.All the wind noise and people moving and bicycles going here and there and everyone working together to just get where they are going and not a single horn or bell sounded in anger and probably most frightening of all the bike parking place filled with row upon row of …bicycles.

  2. I wonder if we could get these people to put their opinion into this: https://www.dutchcycling.nl/

    I’d like to hear from a Dutch designer how they’d approach this road into town.

    (btw, a major diffierence between the Clontarf route and Prins Hendrikkade is that there is nothing on one side of the road worth cycling to so it makes sense to put cyclists on one side of the road. This point is being persistently ignored in the two-lane solution, which baffles me.)

  3. Nobody is persistently or otherwise ignoring the point that some people will want to get to locations at the other side of the road. Just like car users, people on bicycles usually become pedestrians sooner or later and people will be able to cross to the other side.

    Prins Hendrikkade isn’t being used of an example of perfect context (there’s no such thing), it’s being used as an example of unsignalised junctions on a similar sized road with a similar traffic function on the side of the unsignalised junctions.

    A two-way cycle path allows for:

    • continuous segregation space, not stop-start segregation
    • signalised separation from motorists at the larger junctions
    • bus stop bypasses at every bus stop and space for bypasses at future BRT stops too
    • a general lane width of around 4 metres with a decent kerb
    • a buffer between car parking and the cycle path
    • the same number of car parking spaces as proposed by the council’s design
    • a direct link to the quays and beyond via the Custom House one-way system
    • a direct link to the S2S north

    Signalised separation from motorists at the larger junctions can be done with a two-way path and have that run green at the same times as the main north-south bus / car flow has green — so, very high priority for cycling. With signalised separation and cycle paths on both sides, the bus lanes (especially outbound) would get clogged up by the traffic trying to turn right but having to wait on red in the bus lane. Only one extra turning ban would be needed and the motoring alternatives are only a short extra distance.

  4. A number of cyclists made the point to you in the comments on other posts that if no northbound provision were made on the left-hand side as you look north, they wouldn’t want to use a path on the other side because it would be too much work for them to get to.

    You’ve consistently ignored that in your analysis. You’ve often brought up London’s super-highways. On the coast road coming into Fairview, that approach entirely appropriate because the majority of cyclists are looking to traverse a significant amount of the route. Ironically though, those superhighways, since they funnel all cyclists into a single route, often suffer from high traffic themselves, which is something you rarely see in Holland where paths are ubiquitous.

    There are no perfect examples, but there are roads that a much more similar (both the example in Utrecht and that in Amsterdam were analogous to the Naas Road or the Coast Road. One that’s more similar to North Strand/Amiens Street would be De Overtoom in Amsterdam. It also includes a tramway, but it’s a road with a high number of residents, shops and acts as a major route into the centre. Here’s a link: https://www.google.ie/maps/@52.361425,4.870363,3a,75y,52.18h,85.68t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1s0iQapsnHPje3Nq8O_V4kNQ!2e0!6s%2F%2Fgeo1.ggpht.com%2Fcbk%3Fpanoid%3D0iQapsnHPje3Nq8O_V4kNQ%26output%3Dthumbnail%26cb_client%3Dmaps_sv.tactile.gps%26thumb%3D2%26w%3D203%26h%3D100%26yaw%3D0.22187616%26pitch%3D0%26thumbfov%3D100!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en

    I don’t personally believe that a conciliatory approach works with cycle path advocacy because it ends up validating the car lobby. I think that to get the provision we want, we have to change the values of planners. They need to care about a liveable city and associate that with unclogging the streets. There is more than enough room from Fairview into town to do that, but there’s never be the political will while we try to placate car drivers (I’m a car driver as well as a cyclist, but I’ve seen the advantage in Holland of not making the car king – an amazing example of what they’ve done in Utrecht is split 30km/h roads into three equal lanes. The two outer are for bikes, and the middle lane is for cars in both directions. Cars must use cycle lanes, when free, to pass each other: https://www.google.ie/maps/@52.0873142,5.1291536,3a,75y,16.9h,87.46t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sEQn6sDO3nxp6KxctvI3Veg!2e0!6s%2F%2Fgeo1.ggpht.com%2Fcbk%3Fpanoid%3DEQn6sDO3nxp6KxctvI3Veg%26output%3Dthumbnail%26cb_client%3Dmaps_sv.tactile.gps%26thumb%3D2%26w%3D203%26h%3D100%26yaw%3D16.941694%26pitch%3D0%26thumbfov%3D100!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en)

  5. It is not just end of journey “well you have to get off to go in to the shops anyway” occurrences we are talking about though. Anyone going north who wants to turn left, which will be plenty of people, is inconvenienced by this. Motorists don’t have to “become a pedestrian” in the middle of their trip. That argument is fatally flawed.

    I don’t think you persistently ignore this issue but you do dismiss it out of hand.

  6. @Eric I have not dismissed that out of hand and I am not in any way suggesting to dismount to get to the other side of the road. There’s space at all of the main junctions to provide turning points for cycling.

    Indeed, the council’s design is dependent on poorer turning points than could be provided with two-way paths.

  7. @Colin yes a few have but that’s exactly why I keep referencing London. Some people in London said similar things but the vast bulk people use the cycle routes.

    And the high-quality London routes in London are not just in locations with development on one side.

    If the route is as successful as you think then the old plan for a route via Eastwall can be built to add to capacity.

    De Overtoom is much wider than North Strand Road. You can do anything you want with Fairview as long as you take more car lanes away but that’s another story and not really the main issue here.

    The Dutch use two-way paths where it makes sense for desire lines or as solutions to fit thing in, and the suggestion for this route is because it makes sense — the many turning restrictions already in place which allows the two-way path to flow with the main traffic/bus flow, the low-volume side streets on the east side, the park, the S2S, the ability to link to the Liffey Route and beyond, the trips to/from the Docklands/Connelly which only involve one crossing of the road, the ability to deal with bus stop bypasses and parking etc just on one side of the road, etc.

    It’s a practice suggestion to allow for cycling for all and still have good bus priority and still have car access and, yes, still retain a bit of car parking too. Even in the Netherlands cycling sometimes isn’t perfect, two-way on this route allows for a great route suitable for all.

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