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Sight loss charity asks Dublin City Council to stop mixing cycling and walking

Cyclist on a footpath? No, it's a shared use footpath.
Cyclist on a footpath? No, it’s a shared use footpath.

— Request comes as plans progress for city centre to Swords bus rapid transit route with shared use footpaths at bus stops and along other sections
— NCBI says most vulnerable pedestrians just can’t cope with shared footpaths or shared space

Dublin Council Council is to continue to mix cycling and walking on footpaths despite city officials saying they are aware of the issues that the most vulnerable pedestrians have with such designs.

Irish councils and other bodies such as the National Roads Authority have followed their UK counterparts in mixing cycling and walking on shared use footpaths — the design is not generally used in the Netherlands or Denmark where a core principle of cycle route design is to keep cycling and walking apart. Even North America, where there has been a boom in cycle paths, has generally avoided the design on roads and streets.

Representing the NCBI, the national sight loss charity, at the city council transport committee last week, Fiona Kielty said she wanted to confirm that Dublin City Council is not in favour of cyclists and pedestrians mixing.

Referring to a project “coming up in Kilmainham”, Kielty said “The suggestion was that cyclists and pedestrians would share an area of footpath. I’ve already brought it up with the people involved with the project itself but I just wanted to make sure that Dublin City Council is not in favour of cyclists and pedestrians mixing, for the simple reason that the most vulnerable pedestrians just can’t cope with that and it would mean that they could not use an area if they knew that cyclists would be all over the pavement.”

Brendan O’Brien, head of technical services at Dublin City Council, said: “We do have a number of shared space areas, we don’t have a huge amount of them and where we do have them we do have them we try to have a very careful design, and we do consult with the NCBI on these schemes.”

But he said the council did not want to be “too prescriptive”.

“We are aware of the issues, we’re also trying on the other hand to not be too prescriptive for every single occasion,” said O’Brien. “We are aware of the issues and we do intend to continue to liaise with the NCBI for any of these types of schemes.”

While Dublin City Council has had less shared use footpaths than other Dublin councils, the amount of then is due to increase with furture projects across the city and the council has already increased the amount used in recent years with projects such as the Canals Cycle Route and the Rialto Area Improvement Scheme.

The planned Swords bus rapid transit (BRT) route includes a number of shared use footpaths at bus stops, as well as longer lengths of shared use along the route.

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Cllr Ciaran Cuffe (Green) said the issue of mixing cycling and walking was an important one for older people.

“A constant theme of the community fora– particular among older people — is about cyclists on footpaths and I think really from my perspective as a pedestrian and a cyclist we want to make roads safer so that cyclists feel confident in using the road but that does require improvements in infrastructure,” said Cllr Cuffe.

Before the recent local elections, the NCBI called on election candidates to create “accessible and inclusive environments that enable people with sight loss to maintain their independence.”

The pre-election statement said that barriers to access in our cities, towns and villages include unpredictable factors, such as no separation between cycle paths and footpaths and cyclists on footpaths, as well as on-street furniture or sandwich boards from businesses on the footpath, footpaths in need of repair, poor signage, lighting and curbs, lack of audible signals at traffic lights and lack of tactile paving to indicate crossings.

Linked to such issues, a study published by NCBI and Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind in 2012 found that more than one third of older people with sight loss never go out in their local area without a sighted guide. is reader-funded journalism. That means it's funded by readers like you.

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  1. I agree with NCBI stance. Indeed representatives met with NCBI back in 2009 or thereabouts to hear its concerns about footway-sharing with cyclists.
    NCBI also pointed out the hazard posed to its members by a proliferation of official street-furniture plus pavement cafes, sandwich boards on the pavements, etc. All trip hazards.
    A road authority has a duty to consider the needs to all road users and to undertake appropriate risk analysis.
    Cyclists don’t want to be up on pavements because it serves to confuse both cyclists and pedestrians. One minute you are permitted to be on a footway and the next it’s illegal.
    And perform independent road safety audits to make sure the hazards and risks have been identified, evaluated and controlled..

  2. I agree with Cllr Ciaran Cuffe (Green) when he said “the issue of mixing cycling and walking was an important one for older people”. I am an ‘older person’ and I am fed up with cyclists riding on footways and coming up silently behind me – almost none has a bell fitted (itself illegal)!

    “A constant theme of the community fora– particular among older people — is about cyclists on footpaths and I think really from my perspective as a pedestrian and a cyclist we want to make roads safer so that cyclists feel confident in using the road but that does require improvements in infrastructure,” said Cllr Cuffe.

    That’s why in we call for a paradigm-shift in how traffic is managed. Then ‘old ways’ are not working and that’s why so many cyclists ride on footways – sheer fear of dangerous overtaking, which of course goes undetected or punished by Garda.

    Cyclists should not be up on footways as a matter of course – it is illegal to drive a vehicle on a footway.

    Once you permit shared-use (without kerb-separation) then you create the view among some cyclists that it must be permissible to cycle on all footways.

    As you know road safety requires that the road/footway should be ‘readable’ by all users. That means no confusion!


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