BusConnects bus lane plans leaves cycling behind

IMAGE: The planned design for the Swords Road junction at Whitehall.

Detailed plans for the infrastructure part of BusConnects shows that the National Transport Authority has disregard national transport policy on walking and cycling.

IMAGE: The core bus routes with the first four marked in green and the rest in blue.

This afternoon the National Transport Authority (NTA) published draft details of its first four core bus route projects to go to public consultation —  between Dublin city centre and Clongriffin, Swords, Blancherstown and Lucan.

Unlike recent consultation which focused on where buses would go across the city, this new consultation deals with bus lanes and cycle tracks on the “core” routes into and out of the city centre. The other 12 routes are due to go to public consultation in batches next year.

National sustainable transport policy puts walking and cycling ahead of public transport but the plan is focused on buses.

Within in detailed drawings, flaws which go against policy, guidance or best international practice include mixing walking and cycling at junctions, mixing walking and cycling on sections of paths, bus stops within cycle lanes, dangerous slip turns retained, parking inside cycle tracks, no segregation even at large junctions, staggered crossings in urban areas, and roundabouts with no crossings for people walking and cycling.

The NTA has funded millions of euro retrofitting “bus stop bypasses” or “island bus stops” into the N11. But, despite this, there seems to be  no attempt to provide bus stop bypasses as part of the works on much of the planned route upgrades. This includes beside state-owned lands such as green spaces at the side of roads, large green spaces in estates, and a green areas outside a Garda station.

Existing — even if sub-standard — cycle lanes will be removed in some places to make way for continuous bus lanes, such as in Santry and Gardner Street.

On the Malahide Road drawings show a detour for cyclists with a note which states “cyclists required to use diversion route on Brian Road and Carleton Road”. In Santry a segregated two-way cycle path is to be provided on the Santry bypass, but there is no note that this will be mandatory.

There is also little horizontal segregation between cycle paths and bus or general traffic lanes on higher-speed roads, even where there is ample green space. Horizontal segregation is seen as key to increase comfort and safety especially on larger roads where there is increased traffic speeds and volume.

In a small number of cases — such as in Drumcondra — cycle paths still have yield signs crossing minor cycle roads.

MORE: Core Bus Corridor Project

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: Sample of issues:

Mixing of cycling and bus stops and parking inside the cycle route:

Staggers the pedestrian crossing and removes the cycling crossing across this road:

Rather than designing service streets with cycling priority, putting people cycling closer to getting left hooks and putting bus stopping the cycle track needlessly:

No protection for cycling and no provision for cycling into side roads at very larger junctions with ample space which are currently roundabouts:

People cycling in different directions forced to choose between braving mixing with cars in the junction of using often staggered crossings mixed with pedestrians: Taxi tank inside cycle track and bus stop which is used by Intercity coaches for set down with no bus stop bypass beside HSE lands:

People who cycle are left exposed at very large junctions:

people cycling are left exposed to larger slip turns and junctions:

.

I am editor of IrishCycle.com and have reported on and commented on cycling in Ireland for over a decade. My background is in journalism -- I have a BA in Journalism from DCU and HDip in Print Journalism from BCFE. I wrote about cycling for national newspapers, and then started CyclingInDublin.com for overflow stories. Later the website was re-branded to reflect a more national focus.

8 Comments

  1. I think we have a great opportunity here to do a deep dive into the drawings and try to provide constructive feedback specific to each location. After all that is the point of public consultation. I was happy to see that provision for cycling is prominent in the proposals, devil is in the detail design though.

  2. This is a once in a generation chance to get it right. Considering the National transport policy document should be mandatory and any and all deviations from it should be justified and documented on a case by case basis Let the public official who decides to ignore the guidelines sign their name to every exemption and let them defend it in court if and when incidents are caused. Doing the right thing in the first place is not much more expensive.

  3. I thin the lines of attack here has to be
    The junctions, (said like Tess and Claudia do :) )
    The Slip Roads
    and finally some FOI for the names of the responsible engineers, my impression is that the people on the Malahide project at least read some of the cycle manual.
    Naming and shaming of these people is a valid option – along with Graham et al.

  4. Thanks for this analysis Cian. There is a lot of information in the latest round from BusConnects.

    Now is the time to get changes made to the design. In fairness to the NTA, by releasing the design on a phased basis, feedback can be incorporated into the second and third phase design. Segregation of buses and bikes will be critical to the success of the BusConnects project.

    I expect constructive feedback which supports the overall goal (quicker bus journeys), will be listened to. It’s up to us to make sure that message gets through to the design team.

  5. Is there legislation that allows cyclists to be banned from bus lanes at the moment? I’m unsure how they plan to enforce any mandatory detour using the existing laws. If this is about improving flow for busses are taxis and motorcycles also going to be banned?

  6. Motorcycles and taxis that are not hired are already banned from bus lanes Unfortunately this is not enforced.

  7. The Core Bus Corridor programme is a great opportunity to improve facilities for pedestrians and cyclists. I’ve looked at the Swords route in detail and I’m very disappointed by the design. Currently many of the junctions on this route are very hostile for pedestrians and cyclists. Unfortunately, there are very few improvements in this plan. It’s a massive missed opportunity. I’ll have lots to say in my submission

  8. keep up the good and detailed work Cian. I’ll be submitting details when drafts for routes I know are available.

    @Bigx taxis empty but with light on can use lanes, they cannot commute using them https://www.nationaltransport.ie/taxi-and-bus-licensing/taxi/operating-an-spsv/bus-lanes/

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