What should Dublin’s quays look like? Part One

How should the space on Dublin’s quays be used?

Dublin City Council has plans to — but has yet to — release any firm ideas for changing the quays to include a high-quality cycle route. However, let’s just imagine… 

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From Google Street View, the first image above is the current view of Arran Quay which is between the river and Smithfield (expect the road has been re-surfaced since).

The second image is our quick and sloppy Photoshop of how Arran Quay could look.

But, in this case, being rough around the edges is ok because it’s based on initially implementing the design cheaply. Using minimum use of expensive digging, re-kerbing, and footpath widening is exactly what New York City did with Times Square before making its improvements for cyclists and pedestrians permanent.


  1. It looks good so long as it gives priority for Bikes at Junctions which knowing them they probably wont but it will be a vast improvement on what it is like now. They are supposed to be letting Buses use the Carraigeway only on the left side.

    I am looking forward to them finally finishing the James Larkin Road part of the Sandycove to Sutton Cycleway at Clontarf at least get that done first.

  2. Is this vision based on the quays being free of private traffic altogether, with the left lane being a QBC? Or will the priority of bus passengers be reduced?

    • The left lane pictured could be a bus lane inbound. And you can then have private traffic going two ways on the south quays, along with a bus lane outbound.

      OR the left lane could be for private traffic inbound. Then the south quays could have BRT-like two-way bus lanes on the quay side, and one lane of private traffic on the inside, plus turn lanes where there’s space / where needed. I think this idea has a lot of positives for bus priority and general traffic flow.

      The council may or may not come out with those options, but they are apparently going to release more than just one option.

  3. I know it’s only a dirty sketch, but would the bike path be better suited on the other side of the road. This would allow easier access to shops by cyclists, and therefore increase the potential customer base for all those shops. Just a thought.

  4. I’ve long held the view that both sides of the quays should be pedestrianised between the Four Courts and O’Connell Street, and all traffic (except perhaps cyclists) diverted elsewhere.

    The change would serve to bring together the two shopping districts in the city centre, and would hopefully encourage a cafe culture along the river side, where people could sit outside and eat during the summer. At the moment, half of the shops in the quays are standing empty, as nobody wants to go shopping next to that much traffic.

  5. too many bollards God damn it! Seperate the bike lane with some trees, and make it elevated – part of the footpath rather than the road. Other than that.its a good idea but im sure DCC traffic would not be happy, nor the Dublin Bus commuters. Think horizontal!

    • @Tomas: There’s a few reasons to go with the quay side:

      — It would give a view of the river.
      — If buses are to run on the left, then they can use current stops so its cost effective and there’s no conflict between the cycle route and bus passengers.
      — If the cycle route was to run on the left, there’d be around 20 extra junctions or entrances to deal with (some minor, but many busy ones).
      — If private motorised traffic is to stay on the north quays, than running the cycle route quay side limits the turning conflicts / delays at junctions (when traveling along the quays many right turns are already banned but nearly all left turns are open to use).
      — Regardless of if it’s buses or private motorised traffic on the north quays, the cycle route on the quay side would act as an extra buffer between the buses or motorised traffic and the quay side walking route.

      @Richard/Rachael: Pedestrianising that much of the quays would be impractical given the importance of the quays for bus routes and the need to keep private motorised access.

      @ecourb: This is one of the narrower quays, so using trees or bushes would reduce the space for cyclists and pedestrians. Good cycling segregation should not be apart of the footpath or road.

  6. I agree with Richard, although I would go further and suggest that it should be pedestrianised all the way between Phoenix Park and the Point on the North Quay only, which would be the sunny side and facilitating vibrant outdoor terraces in the good weather with periodic green areas or play/exercise furniture (which would totally reinvigorate the centre of the city, and cater for locals and tourists alike). And have a one directional bike path and one directional skate path. On the south quay, there would be a bike and skate path going the other direction and an electric trolley service that doesn’t use tracks, just normal wheels, and utilizes the existing lamp posts etc to suspend the electric cabling. This would provide a commuter service in and out to link the far end of Sir John Rogerson’s Quay with Euston Station and be cleaner and quieter for the pedestrians and cyclists/skaters. All together these measures would provide a peaceful, healthful spinal column to our city that connects all parts in a functional, yet pleasing way. Traffic can still travel across the bridges albeit in a very limited way, and of course the whole system would nee to be rejigged for traffic, but that’s what is needed.

  7. Nice photoshopping skills – it looks great!

    Plenty of room for this on Inn’s Quay and Ormonde Quay with the line of parked cars there that could be moved to make way for a segregated cycle lane.

  8. +1 on the mention above about the noise of the traffic on the quays, and encouraging a river-side cafe culture. I was showing a friend around Dublin last weekend, and while walking down the quays to see the Ha’penny Bridge, Wood Quay and Christchurch, it was hard to hold a conversation at times.

  9. @Cian: I’m not saying that pedestrianisation of the quays would be easy – there would be significant issues related to the re-routing of traffic – but that’s not impossible to do, and it may even be desirable, given that it would discourage drivers from using the city centre as a through route.

    I’m concerned that if you continue to allows buses up and down the quays, then the taxis will want to use the route too, and the emergency services, and all the cars that ignore the bus gate. And all those buses and taxis and ambulances and cars will want to overtake each other, so they’ll need two lanes.

    I used to live in Edinburgh, and their main shopping street Princes Street was shut off to all traffic except buses and taxis a few years back – and the net effect was to give buses and taxis a nice clear road that they drive down at high speed. The road is still hostile to pedestrians and cyclists, but the buses are more reliable.

  10. This would be fine and dandy if there was an alternative to cars for many people. Without a metro or further Luas lines serving the north side of the city a huge amount of people need private transport to get in and out of there.

    Won’t this also close the main artery for people leaving the city for the N7 (ie all Cork and Limerick traffic?). Two-way traffic on the north quays would need to be considered very, very carefully and would need to be convinced it would be anything but a retrograde step.

  11. I agree it would be better to extend the left hand pavement and incorporate the cycle lane into it. Cycle lane on the right is just wrong IMHO as regards bikes trying to turn left, also drivers needing to look left and right to watch for pedestrian and cyclists separately. Even with the bollards I wouldn’t feel protected. But it seems to make more sense to just have one line of bollards on the left rather than covering the street in metal bollards- very ugly.

    Maybe remove the right hand pavement entirely. It is too narrow as it is anyway. Or extend that pavement out to incorporate the cycle lane and give more space for pedestrians – reduce left hand pavement.

    BTW you’re still gonna get taxi drivers pulling in and stopping and jamming up the street with the single lane. You’d need to allow for a few pull in spots.

  12. @ Rachael & Richard Fitting in a two-way cycle route, widened footpaths and green space in its self a huge task. Mixing it with the idea of pedestrianisation of the quays is likely to kill off both ideas.

    This area of Dublin is restricted in the amount of road space available given we’re dealing with a city centre which heavily relives on buses, and motorised access is needed to shops for deliveries, and to houses and apartment blocks for car owners.

    Look at the parallel streets:

    Northside: Benburb Street is taken by the Luas and access; Arbour Hill narrows so that it’s hard for two large cars to pass each other, even where there’s no parking; and the North Circular Road has wider sections but is generally no wider than a traffic lane in each direction plus cycle lanes.

    Southside: James’s Street narrows to one lane in each direction and there’s nothing between James’s Street and Cork Street worth talking about (Cork Street isn’t parallel and has its own problems.

    Paris is looking at removing sections of the river-side motorway, but there’s still bus lanes and traffic lanes on the streets above the motorway. As for what happened in Edinburgh – it’s not comparable given the higher degree of segregation needed for a two-way cycle route on the quays.

    @ Hugh – the suggestion is for [1] two-way traffic on the south quays, or [2] two-way buses on the south quays and keeping traffic on both the north and south quays.

    Although Rachael and Richard are suggesting doing so, the main idea is not close the main artery.

    @Dave – There’s no cycle “lane” as such. It’s a two-way cycle “track” or “path”, segregated from the bus or traffic lane. It’s a different beast! Because of the two-way nature of the route, if it was on the left in the picture, there’d be even more conflicts with traffic and bus passengers. It’s also poor practice to put cycle paths at the same level as footpaths.


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