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New Irish street design vs new Dutch?

Ireland now has two design manuals for urban streets relating to cycling — Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets and the National Cycle Manual.

The former seems to call for “permeable” grids for all traffic (permeable for some is an option rather than an prime example) and for loads of links to distributor-like roads (making them ineffective by design). Meanwhile, the Dutch generally seem to keep limiting motorised access to distributor roads and limit grid permeability for motorists as standard (while keeping access for people on bicycles and on foot).

The Dutch design makes distributor routes more effective at transporting cyclists and motorists with less junctions to interrupt the flow of both, while by design motorists only use residential streets for access, not as “rat runs.”

If the government truly want 20% of trips to be made by bicycle, how should we be designing our network of streets?

More details of the design in the above video can be found on Bicycle Dutch blog. is reader-funded journalism. That means it's funded by readers like you.

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Cian Ginty


  1. Excellent video that explains it very well. It is unlikely that anything like this will be happening in Ireland as most motorists want to take there car anywhere they need to go. I do not see a great mentality change happening any time soon.

  2. I would suggest a thorough read through DMURS before making any judgements. DMURS does not advocate a fully permeable grid, except in limited circumstances. DMURS includes a wide range of measures (including the use of 30 km/h local streets, narrower vehicle carriageways and vehicular cul-de-sacs) that can be used to effectively manage and balance the movement of all users.

    I would also warn against anyone advocating ‘distributor roads’ as a design solution. These may sound attractive to cyclists as they allow for long sections of uninterrupted movement, but when these conditions are created for cyclists, they are also created for cars. Such environment are shown to encourage faster speeds, thus increasing the severity of any accident and creating a street environment that is hostile to the needs of other users, especially pedestrians. Fewer junctions (i.e. access points to neighbourhoods) also means that were junctions are provided, they will need to be much larger to cater for larger volumes of turning vehicles. Delays at these junctions will therefore be much longer than at smaller junctions with less turning movements So is there any net gain?

    The key word is balance. Taking the best of both approaches and applying them according to context.


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