Junction plan with 1 metre cycle lanes appealed to An Bord Pleanala

— IDA business park plan was approved by Galway County Council
— Cycle lanes only 1 metre wide when national rules call for 1.75 metre
— Planned central road barrier to push cars and trucks closer to cycle lane

Galway Cycling Campaign last week lodged an appeal to An Bord Pleanala against the IDA’s plans to redesign Parkmore Road and add an entrance to Parkmore West Business Park near Galway City.

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The new junction and road redesign are being billed as a solution to chronic rush hour congestion caused by traffic exiting the business park on the outskirts of the car-dependent city. But the cycling campaign yesterday expressed safety concerns over the new design not complying with national design standards — with planned pinch points adding to the risk of a collision between motorists and cyclists.

IMAGE: Road sweeping is lacking on the current substandard cycle lanes (Image: Galway Cycling Campaign)
IMAGE: Road sweeping is lacking on the current narrow cycle lanes (Image: Galway Cycling Campaign)

Local media report that motorists complain that it takes “up to 90 minutes to get out of the area at peak times”, while Google Maps suggests cycling from Parkmore to the Deane Roundabout (aka the Fort Lorenzo roundabout) in the west of the city only takes around half an hour. The Galway Cycle Campaign highlights how IDA has done “very little” to improve cycling and walking access to Parkmore West and Parkmore East

The cycle campaign points out that the road redesign and expansion does not comply with the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets or the National Cycle Manual. It also said the existing substandard road, the large roundabout outside the business park, and a lack of road sweeping are barriers to cycling in the area.

The new junction will only allow for left in and left out movements and bollards in the centre of the road will attempt to enforce this.

The cycling campaign said that the planned “wide sweeping curvature” of the junction will encourage motorists to travel fast when entering and exiting Parkmore West. On this it points to the Design Manual for Urban Roads, which advises: “Reducing corner radii will significantly improve pedestrian and cyclist safety at junctions by lowering the speed at which vehicles can turn corners.” The proposed curvature of 12 meters, the campaign said, “significantly exceeds” the recommendations of the design manual.

The campaign said it is also concerned about planned concrete islands in the design which will “create pinch points for cyclists”. It added: “The proposed narrow cycle lanes of only 1 meter in width will push cars closer to cyclists using the same road space. Hard shoulders or cycle lanes should be at least 2 meters wide.”

The cycle lanes planned to not meet the standards in the National Cycle Manual calls for a minimum width of 1.75 metre cycle lanes in the given context and it does not even follow older guidelines, which used to call for 1.5 metre lanes.

(article continues below images)

Parkmore crosssection 1

Parkmore crosssection 2

Parkmore overview 1
IMAGES: Drawings showing IDA’s planned design for the road.

Oisin O’Nidh, Campaign PRO, said: “The plans will have to revised anyway as the measurements for the road widths do not add up correctly. We have pointed this out to An Bord Pleanála.”

Another problem for the existing cycle lanes on Parkmore Road is that they are rarely maintained. Cycle lanes are rarely swept and result in the gathering of debris, such as gravel and dirt.

“We have put together a proposal for an alternative route via the Racecourse which would provide a more direct and safe connection for cyclists and pedestrians accessing Parkmore,” said Shane Foran, Galway Cycling Campaign spokesman. These proposals would use existing internal roads within the Racecourse lands and would allow people cycle or walk to avoid the busy national roads like the N17 and N6.

The Galway County Council planning file claims that “the proposed link road and junction with the L-7101 has been designed in accordance with DMURS and TD40/41

MORE: All the planning files, including the full drawings and details, and the appeals by the Galway Cycling Campaign and a third party, can be viewed at http://gccapps.galwaycoco.ie/gis/cocomaps/ by searching for the refrence 16170.

IMAGE: Photos of the current sub-standard cycle lanes, provided by the Galway Cycling Campaign,  show how a truck already comes close to the narrow cycle lane and how this with be made worse with the addition of central markings and barriers.
IMAGE: A distinct lack of road sweeping is said to be the norm in the area.


  1. Cyclists need to stay 70 cm out from the kerb even when lanes are frequently swept as a courtesy to pedestrians, to protect themselves from pedestrians who may step into the road without looking, and because the kerb itself is a significant hazard unless it’s a forgiving one. So a “standard” cyclist with 70-cm-wide handlebars (never mind a wider one like a parent dropping off small children before heading on to work) physically won’t fit in a 1 m lane – even before we factor in the need for space between cyclists and motor vehicles. This design is mathematically unworkable. If designers feel the need to deviate from standard design guidance and work from first principles, they need to start by considering how wide road users are and how much space they need between themselves and other road users or immobile hazards. There is no way that process could lead to 1 m cycle lanes (measured from the kerb).

  2. This is an example (one of many) where a bad cycling facility is worse than nothing. All this red ribbon will do is cause motorists to think that is the cycle part of the road and so long as they stay on the grey they don’t have to worry about cyclists at all.

    If there were no cyclist markings then motorists would have to think about each bicycle they are passing as an individual.

    So when inevitably a cyclist has to take more than 1m because there is a pedestrian walking close to the edge, or a drain grating has sunk causing a pothole or there are parked cars completely blocking the lane and half the footpath as in the images then there is a problem because the motorists speeding past a few cms to the right aren’t prepared to account for cyclists.

    Pinch points are obviously dreadful for cyclists too, especially centrally positioned ones. Surely someone in road design has noticed that the usual effect of these not to slow traffic appreciably but to cause motorists to veer in to the inside (where the bikes are). Getting by the obstruction without delay is their primary concern, cyclist safety a distant second.

    Are there studies showing these effects? For example, motorist/cyclist passing distance on a road with a narrow cycle lane versus the same road with no cycle lane? Motorist/cyclist passing distances in the vicinity of pinch points versus the same with no pinch point.

  3. HivemindX
    **Are there studies showing these effects? For example, motorist/cyclist passing distance on a road with a narrow cycle lane versus the same road with no cycle lane?**

    Yes, this was done in the UK with before and after images of passing distances along a stretch of road. As you guessed, once the cycle-strip (I think that’s how we should refer to these bits of paint, because they’re not cycle-lanes) was painted, all the cars came much closer to the people on bikes because they somehow perceived that it was safer to do so than previously. A clear case of how painting a strip make things more dangerous and definitely much more uncomfortable for the people on bikes. I can’t remember where I saw it. I’ll try to locate it over the next few days and I’ll come back with the link if I manage to find it.

  4. I thought that post started off well but devolved in to nonsense near the end.

    I did a quick search and I found this compilation of guidance in the UK:-

    This contains this note from Lancashire:-

    “The absence of a cycle lane is nearly always preferable to a cycle lane that is too narrow i.e. below 1.5-2.0m .

    This is principally because motorists tend to drive right up to the line, which may be too close to cycle traffic. They also direct cyclists too close to the kerb, often a hazardous and uncomfortable place.”

    I couldn’t find anything on where they got this.

  5. Pity I can’t find that article I was thinking of. They had photos of a road before and after the cycle lane went in and the cars were driving too close to cyclists when the lane was there compared to before the lane went in.


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