Design of Irish cycle routes — even many of the newest ones — continues to be poor and compromised. So, we want to do something about it, and we are going to ask politicians at national and local level to sign up to higher standards based on feedback from our readers.
Here are the draft points, which were developed using feedback from IrishCycle.com readers:
- #spaceforcycling segregated from motoring on main routes and pedestrians in urban areas
- priority at junctions and across side roads
- continuity and quality
The detail of these points are below.
Blaming those who design such routes is simplifying it too much — often politics, a limited budget, a poor or limited brief or limited options in official design manuals gets in the way.
Ireland needs to follow the cycling and general street designs and planning processes of the Netherlands, where cycling is attractive, enjoyable and safe for everybody from young children, older adults and everybody in-between; and where the cycling infrastructure also accommodates mobility devices.
The idea is that councillors, TDs and groups who sign up must look to adopt higher standards into plans, policies, and law at national, regional and local levels. Councillors should also strive to make sure these standards are upheld when councils are constructing routes and TDs should look to ensure national transport funding is well spent on high quality projects.
National guidelines — including the NTA National Cycle Manual, the NRA/TII rural route cycle manual, and the Manual for Urban Roads and Streets — are generally good in principal. But these and other guidelines are lacking when it comes to many details and need to be partly rewritten to follow Dutch design standards. All such manuals need to be made clearly and legally mandatory to follow for those designing any road and street open to the public.
It may also be advisable to put the oversight of these and other roads and streets design manuals under a single authority, preferably the Department of Transport.
here’s the detail:
(1) #spaceforcycling segregated from motoring on main routes and pedestrians in urban areas
- paint is generally not enough between cars or pedestrians (NOTE: Remove word generally or reword)
- on main routes, cycling needs to be segregated from motor traffic; cycling and motoring should generally only be only mixed on low speed and low volume roads and streets
- cycling and walking need their own space and must be segregated at least in urban areas, international examples show that this is possible
- bus stop bypasses should be used at practically all bus stop to avoid bicycle-bus conflicts (bus stops where there’s low volumes of buses is not an exception as these often have longer loading times and are often used for other uses beyond scheduled buses)
- on high-volume and high-speed roads designs should strive to include a minimum 1 metre segregation between cycle paths and roadway
- cycling-only space at junctions, standard crossings separate from pedestrians and protected for motor traffic
- where parking is provided alongside a cycle path or cycle lane, there must be a buffer which allows a car door to be opened
- continuous footpaths and cycle tracks should be used across entranceway and minor roads/streets – not to be confused with speed table/ entry treatments which are similar to continuous footpath
(2) priority at junctions and across side roads
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- priority made clear by design and by law, if needed
- Dutch junction design should be used, if needed any law changes must be made
- modern Dutch-design cycling priority roundabouts or grade segregated roundabouts should be the only type of roundabouts used in urban and suburban areas. Cycling must have priority on roundabouts in urban and suburban areas, this should be possible with our current laws but if needed any law changes must be made
- A simultaneous green bicycle phase should be an option for designs, if needed any law changes must be made
(3) continuity and quality
- a network of cycle routes is not disconnected sections of paths or lanes
- surface quality should at least meet the standard of parallel roadway, not just at construction stage but on an on-going basis
- tarmac/etc surfacing should be continuous and not interrupted up by kerbs or concrete
- road/street crossings must not be staggered in urban areas
- inclines and ramps: Inclines should not exceed 5%. When the vertical climb is very short, a higher grade can be used, but when the total vertical slope is more than 4 meters, a maximum of 4% should be used. Where horizontal sections are used, these must be should be at least 25m horizontal.
- high-quality routes are nothing without good maintenance — maintenance must be considered at the design stage of projects and included in on-going operational budgets
- all councils should be obliged to draw up traffic circulation plans to cover built up areas, and these should clearly define the nature of roads and streets. This process should influence the roll out of traffic calming and lower speed limits, rather than, for example, streets being defined by their speed limit in a speed-limit process.
- cycle routes must be designed to accommodate not just standard bicycles but also allow bicycles of all shapes and sizes to be cycled without dismounting — including bicycles with wide handle bars, panniers, baskets, crates or child seats; cargo bicycles and cargo tricycles (which carry children, goods and even wheelchairs); tricycles for people with balance and mobility issues; bicycles with trailers attached; recumbents; and tandems
- the design of many Irish housing estates has restricted permeability and to make cycling and walking attractive, politicians must accept the principal of removing many of these barriers (walls, fences etc) and not to allow future development to be designed in this way
- as a principle cycling and walking permeability should be greater than permeability for cars and other motor traffic
- filtered permeability (using bollards, planters etc) should be used to close through traffic on current residential and other streets and roads with the goal of not just making cycling more attractive but to cut rat-running traffic
- on greenways and off-road routes, barriers must be last resort and not standard
- where barriers are deemed to be needed, a single row of bollards with 1.5 metre spacing must be tried first
- where barriers of any type (including bollards) are used authorities must note that such obstacles can cause serious injury, so care must be used in (1) making barriers visible in dark and low light conditions and (2) in not locating barriers directly beside junctions or on ramps or inclines or bends
- swing gates, kissing gates, a-frames and other barriers which stop many types of bicycles must not be used
- permeability must also be considered for easy of access for maintenance
(5) contra-flow routes
- one-way streets without provision for cycling in both directions is a major barrier to cycling in most Irish cities and towns; it is the largest permeability issue in many areas
- signage needs to be clear on contra-flow routes and a review must be undertake looking at all current examples of contra-flow and how it can be made clearer to motorists that cycling is allowed both ways (ie standard signs at the with-flow entry point to contra-flow streets attached the normal one-way street signs)
- the principle of removing one-way streets or roads to make cycling more attractive is often a flawed principle, we should instead follow Dutch design where one-way streets are attractive for both walking, cycling and public transport
- if the removal of one-way streets or roads is considered the designers must first look at the impact this will have on the provision of dedicated cycle paths, bus lanes and wider footpaths
- on busy one-way streets and roads, such as those in our cities and towns currently designed for high traffic flow, councils should look at providing two-way segregation using two-way cycle paths or one-way cycle paths in each direction
- on narrower, low speed one-way residential and town/city centre streets and roads provision should be made by way of cycle paths or lanes, and where that is not possible:
- cycling contra-flow without lanes should be used, this has been proven to work extensively in the Netherlands, and cities such as London, Berlin and Paris.
- cycling contra-flow without lanes will be as a standalone measure and also as part of “bicycles streets”
We’re not yet asking TDs and councillors to sign up, at this stage we want feedback from readers and anybody interested in this.