— Cycling along zebra crossings to cross roads is an offence
— Criminal and civil liability issues could arise in the event of a collision
Zebra crossing are used as the only crossing option on a number of recently installed and planned cycling routes, but designers have forgotten a key element: cyclists dismount signs.
Zebra crossings are a type of signalised pedestrian crossings which people on bicycles are not legally allowed to use, the Department of Transport confirmed last week in an email reply to this website.Despite this, the National Transport Authority (NTA) has promoted and funded the design of zebra crossings on cycle routes, mainly it seems at roundabouts. The NTA, however, said that it is “incumbent on designers to ensure that correct signage is in place”.
Sara Morris, a spokeswoman for the NTA said in a statement: “The National Cycle Manual (NCM) is a principles-based approach to the development of a cycle-friendly street and road environment. In the range of crossing types available to a designer, a zebra crossing offers an efficient solution that: Minimises delay for users crossing the road and traffic on the road; is lower cost than full signalisation and easier to maintain; Reduces traffic noise; and is legible and unambiguous to all road users. As such, it often represents the optimal multi-modal sustainable solution for vulnerable road users to cross the road.”
While the NTA statement says the design is “legible and unambiguous to all road users”, the NTA’s National Cycle Manual — which can be viewed at cyclemanual.ie — only states “Cyclists are required to stop”, not that they must dismount as the Department of Transport has confirmed.
“The Department is aware of the designs included in the Cycle Manual published by the National Transport Authority. With regard to the design included for zebra crossings at roundabouts nothing in the legislation has changed and cyclists are required to dismount before crossing at a zebra crossing,” said Monica Quinn, a spokeswoman at the Department of Transport.
We asked if guiding cyclists into zebra crossing without cyclists dismount signs was misleading and promoting illegal use of zebra crossings — but despite the NTA promoting this usual design, they said designers should make sure they use the correct signs and all road users must be aware of their responsibilities.
The NTA said: “The National Cycle Manual does not cover specific detail that is already dealt with under other standards (e.g. pavement design mixes, drainage capacity requirements, ducting, traffic light specifications, etc.). The NTA has not provided any guidance on signage requirements and road user information in the NCM and it is incumbent on designers to ensure that correct signage is in place. Notwithstanding this, all road users are required to behave with due care and attention for other users, and to be aware of their responsibilities as road users.”
On not following the standard modern Dutch cycling priority roundabouts, the NTA claimed that this is not possible under current Irish law.
It said: “Whilst the NCM benefitted from oversight by a specialist review group including members from Denmark and The Netherlands, the specific provisions of Irish road traffic law and the judicial system, the rules regarding Right of Way (see e.g. Section 1.8 of the NCM), and Irish traffic policy would preclude the promotion wholesale of design solutions from other jurisdictions.”
On the issue of cycling friendly law changes, Department of Transport added: “Separately a number of changes to our legislation with regard to cycling are being considered as part of the mid-term review of the National Cycle Policy Framework. These changes are being discussed internally by the Sustainable Transport Division and the Road Safety Division (who have primary responsibility for implementing change to the legislation) and with the National Transport Authority.”
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Last week we asked a number of councils who have used the zebra crossing design for detailed comment on this issue — we are awaiting reply from some and are in the process of contacting others.