If Dublin wants Amsterdam cycling it needs to follow their design

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: Dublin City’s head architect Ali Grehan was on Radio 1 this morning talking about following Amsterdam as an example in general planning and the cycling culture that city has. Grehan’s vision sounds good but the city is failing miserably time and time again to follow Dutch-like designs.

We were listening but did not manage to write down what she said. EDIT: You can already listen back to RTE’s The Business show here, skip to 40mins in for the interview with Grehan. Twitter users noted some of her key points on cycling:

We’re not sure if Dublin City Council is still designing for free-flow traffic, but they are clearly not designing for Dutch-like cycling. Some key planned and recent schemes lack integrated and dedicated space for cycling. 

Here’s a sample of projects which have a lack of space for cycling (click the links for our coverage of these projects): 

  • College Green: In the city centre transport study, mixes bicycles and buses are mixed on College Green. If it’s not clear why College Green needs space for cycling, we’ve also previously written in detail why College Green needs space for cycling.
  • Liffey Cycle Route: While we are very supportive of the overall plan for the quays, there’s missing links for cycling connections on and off the route, and there’s examples of shared footpaths rather than space for cycling where there is ample space for both walking and cycling.
  • Kilmainham Civic Space scheme: This under construction scheme removes rather than fixes a two-way cycle lane, dumping people on bicycles on a footpath in one direction and mixing with buses and other traffic in the other direction. No continuous or protected space for cycling as you’d get where there are buses in Amsterdam or other Dutch cities.
  • Rialto Area Improvement Scheme: People on bicycles are directed onto footpaths on a very urban roundabout at the centre of the scheme — mixing bicycles with people walking, with the area just outside shop doors, and regular illegally parked cars. As we’ve repeated at least twice, obesity expert Dr Donal O’Shea mentioned the roundabout as a prime example of how providing facilities to combat the problem of physical inactivity is not taken seriously.
  • Palmerstown and Chapelizod route: This project which recently opened around the boundary of South Dublin County Council and Dublin City Council shows there’s not even space for cycling provided beside a 6-lane dual carriageway.
  • Parnell Square and Luas Cross City: If Luas Cross City does not provide for two-way cycling on Parnell Street at the south end of the square (the original plans don’t) and if the Parnell Square North pedestrianisation goes ahead, both combined would result in blocking legal eastbound cycling for a whooping 1km in the city centre. It would mean that there is a legal bar on cycling eastbound stretching between Dorset Street and the quays. A lack of cycling permeability of 500 metres in a core city centre area is bad enough, but nearly 1km would be stunning. We’re still waiting on the final street layout design for Luas… Why is it taking so long?

A vision for a cycling city is great. And it’s great that the city architect wants this. And it’s also backed by policy agreed on by elected councillors. But — just as with building design standards — to get to Dutch-like cycling we need to get the details right with road and street design. 


  1. You carried my Tweet above. The point I am trying to make is that the Planning function in the City lets cycling down at so many levels. (1) Detailed design standards for bike access and parking with office and apartment developments not there (2) permitting business premise use that will generate trips on streets ending in fly-parking outside in cycle tracks or clearways with zero effective Garda enforcement of this rampant illegality – your case of DHL courier company on Pearse St. illustrates this well (3) virtually no high-end hotel in this city has proper provision for bike parking (4) my urban village of Donnybrook is cycling-hostile due to no 30 km/h speed limit, far too narrow so-called bus lanes, far too many buses, coaches and taxis thundering along the N11 through the village.
    This latter is free-flow.
    Planning has to think more about cycling promotion.
    Dublin Cycling Campaign quite happy to make a presentation to Planners.
    I could go on!

  2. “to get to Dutch-like cycling we need to get the details right with road and street design.”
    Way before getting the details right to get Dutch-like cycling you need to get the Dutch mindset concerning cycling. Only after having the right mindset you can talk about getting the details right. People from various countries around the world come to The Netherlands or to Denmark to see the Dutch or the Danish cycling infrastructure. But, as long as these countries don’t change their mindset they come, return to their countries and then everything there stays the same. How can the hands make something when the mind doesn’t tell the hands what to make.


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