COMMENT & ANALYSIS: Sometimes people only see cycle route and other projects in their own areas as affecting them, and don’t pay too much attention to issues in other areas. But you then miss the trends.
The re-design of the street outside Kilmainham Gaol, know as the Kilmainham Civic Space, is to be officially opened this morning. The €2.6 million project is part of Dublin City Council’s 1916 commemorative programme and, we agree with the council, that they were successful in improving the street’s appearance and making it more pedestrian friendly. The design was apparently also to encourage “greater levels of walking and cycling”.
A press release trumpeting the cycling credentials of the scheme is an insult to residents and commuters who have complained about the cycling provision and it shows their concerns are being ignored — just like the concerns of the NCBI and the Dublin Cycling Campaign were ignored before and while the scheme was constructed. It’s just like years of complaints about illegal parking with the old layout were also ignored when designing the cycling elements of the new layout.
Before visiting the finished scheme, I didn’t even think it would be as bad residents and commuters told me it was. People said it was worse than before for cycling, I not sure I fully understood that until after I visited the re-designed street.
Making the visit on a Sunday and with limited time on my hand, I was expecting it to be quiet and not see the full effect of parking or infractions into the cycle lane or other issues. How wrong I was.
Dublin City Council yesterday claimed the project was “designed to address road safety issues” on the street, yet their design includes (1) a contra-flow cycle lane on a busy street left unprotected and with car parking spaces inside the contra-flow cycle lane, (2) that cycle lane ending by dumping cyclists into a shared footpath area, and (2) with flow cyclists left to mix with buses and coaches in a narrow general traffic lane. Can you guess what points 1 and 3 add up to?
…It adds up to many cyclists using the contra-flow cycle lane in the wrong direction because no space for cycling is provided with-flow — unless you view bicycle logos painted where a frequent amount of buses are designed to go space for cycling?
In the short time we visited the street, most cyclists were cycling the wrong way down the contra-flow lane:
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The driver behavior was worse:
A coach stopped without fully pulling into the bus stop means that there’s little space is left for overtaking it:
So, when a bus comes along…
…other drivers try to overtake and…
…they use the cycle lane to do so:
But the bus is also in a hurry too, so the driver — with his view of any cyclist in the lane obscured by the van in front — cuts past another driver and veers into the cycle lane:
The van and jeep were together, so the contra-flow cycle lane a little further on is the perfect place to regroup:
And we turn around to see nearly the exact same sequence happening again:
As I cycled along the contra-flow lane, this driver tried to reverse into me where the cycle lane veers behind the car parking space:
Good idea that, putting a cycle lane across an entrance and right behind a parking spot?! Here’s the view when the street was a little quieter for a short time:
While the paving looks great and conditions have improved for pedestrians crossing the road, the design of the carriageway and routing of the cycle route all seems disjointed and messy. An example of this mess is a cycle track sign showing the start of a cycle lane sharing a poll with a shared use footpath sign — the cycle lane can’t legally or practically be both a dedicated lane and also shared:
Below is how the scheme merges with the old unprotected two-way cycle lane. It shows that our suggested alternative design of a protected two-way cycle path would have only take up around the same space as the new contra-flow cycle lane and its not-very-effective buffer:
What has any of this got to do with the planned College Green Plaza? Well, we’re told, no cycle path detail across the planned plaza can be confirmed at this stage because the “multi-disciplinary” team will be looking after the design of the plaza — after tax ranks, loading bays, bus and tram spaces are all decided on on Dame Street.
Yesterday a Dublin City Council press release on the Kilmainham scheme said: “The project was designed and delivered by a multi-disciplinary team within Dublin City Council.” …Does that sound familiar?
But the whole multi-disciplinary team element isn’t new. That was also the approach taken with the Rialto Area Improvement Scheme, five minutes down the road. It includes having people on bicycles directed onto footpaths on a very urban roundabout and mixes people cycling bicycles with people walking and gathering just outside shop and pub doors. It also suffers regular illegally parked cars. Much like the Kilmainham scheme in a slightly different setting.
Unless Dublin City Council starts learning from their own work, deja vecu will be on the menu again and again. Can the city please stop ignoring constructive criticism? Can it please stop mixing walking and cycling and stop avoiding Dutch-quality segregation as if it’s the plague?