— Left slip lane and staggered crossings retained against national guidance
— Design can’t go from “pro-car to pro-walking/cycling in one go” says official
— M50-wide traffic lanes retained on 50km/h road
— Cycle lane and lightly-segregated cycle path beside 4 metre lane
Dublin city councilors have called on city officials to revise a plan to change the Point Village roundabout into a signalised junction. At the monthly meeting of Dublin City Council, councillors said they hoped the plans could be improved for walking and cycling.
“What we have on front of us [the current part 8 plan] is an improvement from the previous version, I still think it does not go far enough to meet the needs of all road users,” said Cllr Ciaran Cuffe (Green Party).
He said that it was not “appropriate in this day and age” that pedestrians would have to press a button and wait three times just to cross the street from the riverside to the Point Village, where there is a Luas tram stop, a cinema, and the Three Arena venus. People cycling from the Liffey Cycle Route would also have to use the same share walking and cycling crossings, stopping three times to cross one street.
Cllr Éilis Ryan (The Workers’ Party) said: “Junctions where people have to stop three times to cross the road is uncommon in Dublin and a dangerous direction to be talking the city in… I think it is a serious enough problem to delay the procedure.
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Cllr Kieran Binchy (FG) said: “While this is on the northside, it affects residents of Ringsend who walk over to get the Luas, because we don’t have the Luas.”
He said that he and others had looked for pedestrian improvements three years ago and that the council only getting as far as planning stages in three years was “an indictment of how we do our business”. He said the three crossings were not great but that there was a need to improve the junction so he was in two minds delaying any improvements.
“We need to also bear in mind that there’s very dramatic plans for the development of the area and we are going to have a huge influx of pedestrians and cyclists,” said Cllr Binchy.
Cllr Mannix Flynn (independent) said it was worth postponing a decision for a month and he highlight the poor condition for walking and cycling on the East Link Bridge. Cllr Paddy McCartan (FG) noted that there was little mention of pedestrians in the Part 8 report, while Cllr Andrew Montague (Labour) also backed the deferral, requesting improvements for pedestrians.
Cllr Ray McAdam (FG) said the proposal is “far from perfect” but he was concerned that a deferral would effect the statutory process as public consultation had already happened and asked for the manager’s advice on this.
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City official Declan Wallace, acting director of traffic, said that the process of approval needed to be completed by February 17.
A visibly animated Wallace said: “The issue here is that this was recommended by the central area committee [of councillors] with one caveat which we have included in the report, so it’s a bit difficult to bring it here [to the full council meeting] and find it being undone. So, that’s just the concern I have.”
He added: “It’s gone from being a very hostile environment to being a huge improvement. It’s very easy to come along and say ‘we need to tweak this and tweak that’. People have spent months on this trying to tweak it and trying to find the best possible answer. And it’s a bit difficult for them each time it comes forward to say ‘you need to do more’.”
“We’re dealing with a very serious north-south corridor, we can’t go from being pro-car to being pro-pedestrian and cyclist in one go. This is a huge step forward and in the fine tuning of the final design it may be feasible to tweak the pedestrian crossings, not to maybe have them staggered, but other than that there’s very little room… there’s very few thing that can be done that have not been explored,” said Wallace.
Councillors voted to defer the approval for one month, with 33 voting for the deferral, 9 against and 4 abstained.
What does the national guidance say?
While Wallace said “we can’t go from being pro-car to being pro-pedestrian and cyclist in one go”, the Manual for Urban Roads and Streets takes a different view: “Designers must take a more balanced approach to junction design in order to meet the objectives of Smarter Travel (2009) and this Manual.” The manual was jointly published by the departments of transport and environment and is a mandatory document which councils must consider.
The same section of the manual continues: “In general designers should: Omit left turn slips, which generally provide little extra effective vehicular capacity but are highly disruptive for pedestrians and cyclists. Where demand warrants, they may be replaced with left tuning lanes with tighter corner radii (see Figure 4.59, below).” and to “Omit staggered crossings in favour of direct/single phase crossings”.
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The National Cycle Manual is the other manual which advises against using the slip lane design. Produced by the National Transport Authority, the guidance is mandatory to consider by law for councils in Greater Dublin Area as well as indirectly via its mention in the Manual for Urban Roads and Streets. The Cycle Manual describes slip lanes as “a priority facility for traffic to proceed on a yield arrangement, in an otherwise signalised junction. Not recommended.” It states:
“Conflicts between the large turning vehicles and cyclists / pedestrians on left slip lanes present a significant risk. Slip lanes often give drivers an unreasonable sense of priority, and by virtue of their oblique geometry, they restrict views of cyclists and pedestrians. They should be removed wherever possible.”
It is unlikely that the people who cycle on the East Link Bridge, mixing with HGVs on narrow lanes, will choose to take up the options of joining pedestrians on shared footpaths, so some people cycling will be exposed to both of the wides ends of the slip lane.
The Manual for Urban Roads and Streets adds:
“Safety concerns regarding pedestrian crossings should also be viewed in the context of pedestrian behaviour. Research has found that pedestrians are less likely to comply with the detour/delay created by staggered crossings, leading to unsafe crossing behaviour. It will generally be more desirable, from a safety point of view, to provide a direct single phase crossing.”
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Traffic lane widths
On general traffic lane and carriageway widths, the same manual states: “Research from the UK has found that narrow carriageways are one of the most effective design measures that calm traffic. The width of the vehicular carriageway is measured from kerb to kerb or from the outside line of a Cycle Lane or from the edges of parking spaces (where the latter facilities are provided).”
The manual says that “The standard lane width on Arterial and Link Streets should be 3.25m” but adds that “Lane widths may be increased to 3.5m on Arterial and Link streets where frequent access for larger vehicles is required, there is no median and the total carriageway width does not exceed 7m.” The planned carriageway at East Wall Road is over double that at 14.3m.
However, the general widths of the traffic lanes on the project are between 3.4m and 3.5m, and the new inside northbound traffic lane is planned to be 4 metres on East Wall Road — far exceeding the general 3.5m width of lanes on the M50 which has a 100km/h speed limit and carries more traffic and trucks than the East Wall Road.
MORE: Post-public consultation design (PDF)
CORRECTION: The above article originally wrongly the identified city official Declan Wallace (acting director of traffic) as another official. The error was fixed a short time after 11.30am on the date of publication, which was soon as possible once we were alerted to it, and this correction note was added a short time after. It was caused by following the name supplied in the public record of the Dublin City Council webcast system, but, in any case, IrishCycle.com apologises for the error and any confusion caused. The error is now corrected.