Design guidelines costing nearly €250,000 and aimed at making roads safer for cyclists were set aside on a technicality for resurfacing works to 24km of roads in Dublin.
Officials from the National Transport Authority (NTA) defended the disregarding of their own guidelines, the National Cycle Manual, while cycling campaigners called it “an appalling sign for the future.”
The manual was published at cyclemanual.ie early last year and was available to road authorities before this, but the NTA said the resurfacing — which cost €22 million — did not have to follow the manual because the “work predated the formal adoption” of the manual.
The document, which has taken seven years to complete, sets out detailed guidelines on making streets safer and more attractive to cyclists.
Mike McKillen, spokesman for Dublin Cycling Campaign, said: “If the manual represents best practice, whether it’s legally in force or not, they should have adopted best practice.”
“The city had €18 million to do the road resurfacing, that’s a huge amount of money and not to get cycling right… it’s an appalling sign for the future.”
A spokeswoman for the NTA said: “In relation to the Dublin City re-surfacing project, the design, tendering and carrying out of this work predated the formal adoption of the NTA Cycle Design Manual.”
She said the board of the NTA agreed to formally adopt the manual on December 9, under powers in the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008. It means local authorities in the Greater Dublin Area must, under law, now have regard for the manual.
The NTA said with projects it is funding outside the Dublin area, it will link the manual to funding, and has “suggested” the Department of Transport does the same.
Asked why following manual was not a funding requirement for the repaving works when nearly €20 million of the funding came from the NTA, the authority repeated that the manual had not been formally adopted.
The National Cycle Policy says “it is clear that the cycling infrastructure that has been constructed to date is often of a poor standard and is poorly maintained”, the design manual is supposed to address these problems and “reflect best international practice and the latest thinking.”
Most of the so-called Dublin “cycling network”, which includes cycle and bus lanes, is now substandard compared to the designs in the manual. Minimum standards were ignored with the recent resurfacing undertaken late last year and into the new year.
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Dublin City Council said the works followed the “first principles” of the manual. A spokesman said: “The first principles of the document have been followed, by eliminating defects in the road surface, there is improved safety for cyclists.”
“The cycle network in Dublin has evolved in line with the legislation that was in force at the time of construction. The NTA Cycle Manual was not adopted until after completion of the resurfacing project. The project re-instated the existing road markings.”
This article was originally published in the print edition of Cycling in Dublin in June 2012.