Mini-bicycle traffic lights — used in other countries to give cyclists a headstart over other traffic — have recently been installed at junctions in Dublin City, without the headstart function turned on.
Elsewhere in Europe, including in Copenhagen and Berlin, bicycle traffic lights at normal junctions are used to give cyclists a headstart. The headstart — which is usually around 5 seconds — acts as a safety feature allowing cyclists to make progress across junctions in advance of motorists being allowed to proceed.
Dublin City Council, however, has confirmed that the recently installed mini-traffic lights are to be used at junctions only as bicycle-level repeaters of the larger general traffic lights.
“The cycle traffic lights are an awareness measure,” said Paul Heffernan, a spokesman for Dublin City Council. “They are synchronised with the existing vehicular traffic signals and compliment vehicular and pedestrian signals. They remind cyclists that they can not run a red light. Dublin City Council is confident that cyclists will respond positively to them.”
The council said “several” of the lights have been installed at locations around the city, but did not give a list of locations.
IrishCycle.com understands the locations include on the north quays at the Ha’penny Bridge, the junction of Harolds Cross Road and Rathgar Ave, and a junction on Dame Street.
The same type of mini-traffic lights were first used in Ireland along the Canals cycle route, between Portobello and the north Docklands, and a segregated bicycle crossing on City Quay — both locations have fully separate signal phases for bicycles and motor traffic. Before their use the law had to be changed to allow for the smaller sized lights.
The headstart function should be possible with the traffic lights recently installed by the council, but changing the traffic light phasing at junctions would require eating into the green time for motorists or making the traffic light cycles longer for everybody.