In Dublin, there’s no space for cycling beside a 6-lane dual carriageway!

— More shared use footpaths comes as Dail readies to fine cycling on footpaths

South Dublin County Council — a council with a poor history for cycling provision — is trying to keep the title for most use of shared paths which mix cycling and walking. Its latest project between Palmerstown and Chapelizod seems to have no public consultation.'s reader-funded journalism won't survive without your help. With over 762,000 views so-far this year, it's not just "avid cyclists" who read this website, but, if you want it to keep going, more support is needed from readers like you. Now, back to the article...

As per the council’s website (where you can see the drawings for the project): “Work has commenced on the above scheme, to provide new cycling and pedestrian facilities from just inside the City boundary along by Stewarts Hospital to the entrance to Palmerstown Village. The works are scheduled to last until March 2015 and will include new public lighting.”

Amazingly, shared paths had to be used as South Dublin County Council or Dublin City Council could not see any opportunity for a segregated two-way cycle on the route…

For example, there’s clearly no space behind the Palmerstown Service Station at the Palmerstown end of the project:

Palmerstown to Chapelizod

Or here along a grass verge, maybe there’s no space because the grass is needed to make the area pretty? Along here you could get to about half way mark on the project before reaching a pinch point:

Palmerstown to Chapelizod 1

Or here — after the pinch point — on the slip junction (off the R148, the former N4) into Chapelizod, there’s a plan to transfer space from carriageway to the path, but this could be done to a larger extent and allow for a two-way cycle path:

Palmerstown to Chapelizod 3

There is undeniably a pinch point on the route, but it only represents — at most — 1/4 of the route: The section behind the filling station and the grass verge combined is ~330m (marked in green), the section of the slip road which has carriageway space which can be redistributed is ~235m (marked in orange), and the pinch point is only around ~150m (marked in red), as viewable on Google Maps:

Map from GoogleMap from Google zoomed

We’re not even talking about an amazing extra amount of width or work to install a footpath and a separate two-way cycle path along side it, the plan already allows for a shared path of at least 4.5 meters wide on sections marked orange and green on our map above.

For just half a meter more you could have the following which meets all requirements in street design manuals, made with

5 meters wide

There’s clearly available space to be taken away from the grass margin, and, on the slip junction, there’s also more space to be reconfigured, the following two images are from the current project’s drawings. Both are crops from the same image and both are unscaled. Even with the planned grey area taken away from the carriageway, there’s more space yet to be taken away and still leave the slip wider than the traffic lanes on the dual carriageway.

The slip is shown to the right and the main carriageway of the dual carriageway is shown to the left:


Further down the slip off the former N4, the buffer between the carriageway and a large grass verge is exceptionally wide for no apparent reason given that there’s two buildout pinch points over points on the buffer:


The horrendous N4 / M50 crossing for cycling already makes this route poor for cycling, but most of that can be partly blamed on the National Roads Authority. But inside the M50, and at the location of the new project, the N4 and its slip roads have now long being detrunked, so blaming the NRA won’t work on this one.

When so many people are against shared use paths — from the National Council of the Blind, many average pedestrians, a large bulk of people who cycle, and a notable amount of TDs and councillors — why is shared use yet again the default option? We need to demand space for cycling and that has to be generally separate from footpaths which should be kept the sole reserve of pedestrians.


  1. Who the heck is in charge of designing these things? Don’t they have to go to some courses. It sure doesn’t look like it. And amazingly in the Netherlands there would be ample cycling facilities provided with the same amount of space. WTF are the Irish road designers up to in their cubicles? Looking at videos on ‘how to build interstate highways’ from 1950’s USA?


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