COMMENT & ANALYSIS: Shared paths where cycling and walking are mixed must be avoided to get the best out of the River Dodder Greenway for all users.
It will take innovation, funding, extra new bridges, and a willingness to disrupt some motorists on a narrow residential street which until now has been designed as a rat run, but it is worth pushing to get a top class cycle route which does not interfere with other users of the Dodder’s river banks.
Our comments here are based on cycling the route a number of times (including just a few weeks ago), walking some sections of the river, reading the consultant’s route option report, hearing from international consultants who were paid to review the route, hearing from groups who are involved with cleaning and protecting the route (including complaints about loss of unique walking paths and fears about destruction) and talking to random people along the route.
We have heard that detailed designs are not far from being published. The state bodies involved previously said they wanted to widen existing paths but keep them shared, while others have looked to keep the paths narrow.
Our view is that the best solution is to keep walking and cycling separate — even where that means diverting cycling to a different side of the river. In other cases options are limited, there will be come compromises but hopefully not as many councils usually opt for.
Overall we suggest a mix of use of the following route configurations:
- Two-way cycle paths [green]: These would be used on streets with through traffic, on areas of grass banks, in parks along the river, and on all new bridges.
- Local access / bicycle streets [blue]: These are streets bicycles share space with motorists where residents and other motorists have localised access in low volumes and on streets restricted to low speeds, and it’s clear that the street is a cycle route.
- Pedestrian only paths [red]: Paths where cycling isn’t encouraged and their current design is maintained.
- Shared paths [purple]: To be avoided but necessary, at least in the short-term, in a limited amount of locations. Shared paths could also be used on some sections to provide a more scenic route on limited sections, while commuting cyclists are divided to faster routes.
Here’s how we think the route could be configured, opens in Google Maps:
Solutions differ by area.
In Sandymount, the consultant’s idea of a boardwalk seems like the most workable solution, the current space is too confined for mixing as it is, never mind for extra volumes of users a connected greenway would bring — EDIT: On reflection: The best solution for cost, walking and cycling would be to have this path shown below as walking-only and develop a stadium-side path for cycling:
At a few locations, there’s nearly ready made segregated. The very best example of this is in Herbert Park, where there’s a wide path which can be marked as a cycle path as there’s pedestrian paths in place on both sides of it:
In Rathfarnham, the riverbank on the opposite side of Bushy Park is the better place for the main cycle path, in terms of space to provide for segregation and a feel of personal security, after dark or in the winter months.
But the current cycle/footpaths layouts is not optimal for safety or feel of safety or an inviting environment. A new two-way cycle path could be constructed here with a large buffer between it and the road, and with views of the river:
Across the overall route, there are many narrower sections, but more typical of the overall route is wide open spaces. There should be no issue constructing two-way paths beside the existing the paths, which can be retained for walking/running/etc:
Local access / bicycle street example
Here is an example of a path which should be retain as it is, the path between Dartry Park and Orwell Park / Road:
Again the red line shows the path to be kept as it is, while this time the mainly blue route shows the route around for cycling:
The blue line represents Orwell Walk. Because the street already holds only low volumes of motor traffic at low speeds, little would have to be done on the street suitable as part of the cycling segment of a he greenway route:
Cycle path on road example
And here’s another of the locations — a path on the north riverbank between Donnybrook and Clonskeagh — which we suggest leaving basically as it it and not providing for cycling here:
Instead, provide for cycling on the opposite riverbank on Beaver Row and Beech Hill Road. To do this, the Beaver Row section would be made one-way for motorised traffic, which would reduce rat running on this residential section of the route:
So, basically avoiding the red line mapped below, while following the green line:
Beaver Row is basically made up of two sections — a section with (informal) street parking and a section without, we’ll call them sections A and B respectively:
Here’s two options for the section with parking:
And two corresponding options for the section without parking:
These are just a sample of two options for the street to move from a motor traffic dominated place to a balance between providing access one-way traffic, a high-quality and, maybe more importantly, recognition that this is a place where people live.
Beech Hill Road would remain two-way for motorists to allow access to the businesses located off the road.
The whole project does not require a Big Bang investment, it can be done in stages. The priority for the route overall should be to offer alternatives to the narrow sections and connect sections using bridges and safe road crossings.
FOR MORE: Stay tuned to IrishCycle.com for updates on the River Dodder Greenway project and other cycling issues.
When you say international consultants do you mean Mikael Colville-Andersen?
Beaver Row shouldn’t have parking at all. It would be possible to make parking space around the corner in the Beech Hill estate by establishing disc parking there with right to park for Beaver Row residents. The pavement beside the houses is made unusable for anyone in a wheelchair or with a buggy and for many walkers by cars parked halfway across the path’s surface.
There seem to be no moves whatsoever to build the Dodder Greenway. Workmen, when asked about the extensive works taking place on the river, explain that this is nothing to do with cycling, but is flood defence. Is there any intention to build this route from the mountains to the sea, giving a green road to people working in Googleland and the IFSC and children going to the many schools along the way (and most of the way to UCD and Trinity), and a wonderful place for Dubliners to ride bicycles for pleasure and commune with the swans, egrets, ducks, gulls, otters, foxes and kingfishers.
Cian you say – “In Sandymount, the consultant’s idea of a boardwalk seems like the most workable solution…” and that’s followed by a photo along the river just past Bath Ave.
My understanding is that the opposite of the river in that photo is where the Greenway will go. Or perhaps I’ve misinterpreted what you meant there in that photo….?
It’s not clear where the greenway will go on that section — note the maps they put out to consultation recently are all dated 2015, so, god knows where their perfected route is now. The stadium side has more space but doesn’t link well with the rest of the route.