Experimental bicycle lights are to be tested on the €5.8 million cycle route linking Dublin’s Royal and Grand canals, due open in March, as reported by the Irish Independent last week. Here’s more details:
The minister for transport introduced regulations over the Christmas holidays clearing legal obstructions which had forced Dublin City Council to keep bicycle traffic lights on the route switched off months after they were installed. Previous regulations did not permit the smaller size and sequence of the new lights.
The 3.6km route starts at the Royal Canal in the North Docklands and brings cyclists via Grand Canal Square and along the Grand Canal to Portobello.
The council said it is hiring UK safety consultants to monitor the untested miniature lights and unique traffic sequence.
The new eye-level bicycle lights are to turn flashing amber for cyclists while pedestrians have a flashing green light. Cyclists are expected to yield to pedestrians while the lights are still flashing and those using the route must obey the bicycle light rather than the normal traffic lights. See video below.
Uniquely in Ireland for a two-way cycle route alongside roads, cyclists are at most road junctions separated from motorists and pedestrians – this led to the need to have separate lights for cyclists avoid conflicts with pedestrians and motorists.
“It has been agreed [between the council and department] that this sequence can be trialled and a methodology for assessment by the independent Transport Research Laboratory (TLR) in the UK has been agreed. This will take place once the Canal Waycycle route has been opened and the signals turned on,” said a spokesman for Dublin City Council.
He said: “The final decision on the continued use of this sequence will be made by the Department of Transport based on this TRL report.”
While the traffic lights are not working, most of the route is already being used by cyclists incorrectly using the general or pedestrian traffic lights.
Sources with knowledge of the project claim that a dispute between the council and the Department of Transport over the lights stalled a plan to part-open the route last year. However, the council said there was no dispute citing the law change of evidence of this. The department did not respond to requests to comment on this.
The delay in turning the traffic lights on is among a line of problems to hit the controversial project which was criticised for its high price tag of over €1.61 million per kilometre (see why here) and the removal of parking spaces for its construction, and was cut short after objections.
The council confirmed that the project which was due to open last September will miss a revised completion date of December 2011. A spokesman said it will now be officially opened in March and estimated the final cost at EUR5.8 million.
The route is eventually to be part of a continuous network of off-road cycle tracks stretching along the canals and from Sutton to Sandycove along Dublin Bay.
Dublin City Council, with the support of the National Transport Authority, is currently finalising plans to upgrade the city’s cycling network.
The most controversial route under consideration — and committed to in the city’s development plan — is a two-way cycle path along the north quays, which would require major diversions and possibly converting the south quays to two-way for general traffic.