Recently we questioned Why are Irish councils obsessed with mixing cyclists and pedestrians? A prime example is the planned section of the Sutton to Sandycove cycleway between Clontarf and Dollymount, and Bull Island (details here, public consultation date passed).
This is a cycle route which is supposed to — at some stage in the future — stretch from one end of Dublin Bay to the other. But even in the short term it is set to go non-stop from Sutton to at least Fairview, or East Wall Road.
It has a huge potential to offer commuters a high-quality off-road cycle route which is comfortable and gives cyclists half decent priority. But it looks as if we’re not getting that.
This first image below is the council’s and Roughan & O’Donovan‘s design for the planned junction between Clontarf Road and the wooden bridge to Bull Island. Year round, it would have a higher amount of pedestrians than the other entrance into Bull Island. But their design includes shared use which mixes cyclists with pedestrians with dogs and prams:
Is there no space for decent segregation as the Dutch and Danes have as standard? We think there is enough space. Here’s our rough design which seems to show that segregation of cyclists and pedestrians is possible in this space: Two-way cycleway is blue and all footpaths are grey:
A little north up the bay is the junction with Dollymount Park. The proposed design includes having pedestrians, wheelchair users, the blind, and those with children in prams waiting at signalised pedestrian crossings on shared use in the middle of a two-way cycleway — which needlessly increases the chances for conflict between those people and anybody on a bicycle (see drawing PDFs for the key):
At least along this section, there’s another way. Full segregation. Unlike the older bits of the Sutton to Sandycove cycleway, designing it this way also allows for decent cycling access to the cycleway, and off the cycleway to side roads off the Clontarf Road. Here’s our second rough design, a smaller version of it could be used for bus stops along the same section:
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Further north again at Dollymount Avenue shared use footpath again interrupts the cycleway… but why is there no shared use interrupting the road? Why is there no zebra crossing? Or no marked pedestrian crossing of any type? The smooth hard surface of the cycleway is also interrupted by slabs with groves in them… but why no groves or speed ramps on the road?
In Amsterdam or Copenhagen, the footpath would most likely have priority over and would be kept level across the junction with a side road like Dollymount Avenue. But here, the side road gets priority, while the main route cycleway gets interrupted:
And, finally, the crossing at Bull Island’s Causeway Road… this is how it looks on Google Street View currently:
According to the drawings of what the council has planned, cyclists — who are essential cycling along the main road — are still going to have zero priority over a road into a beach.
The road will be marginality narrowed — but cyclists of all ages and abilities will still have to cross a cycle lane, two traffic lanes in one direction and a wide traffic lane in the other direction and all in one go without any centre island and apparently nothing on the road surface to highlight that it’s a crossing.
They could have used a raised surface for the crossing (as is used by the flood defences, shown in orange in the drawing above) and even went as far as put yield signs down for those driving in and out of the beach. Or, keeping with the idea of no priority for cyclists on a main route, they could have included a centre island. But, instead, we get a wide road to cross and more conflict-creating shared use on both sides.