College Green should include segregated cycle paths, experts on cycling and walking provision from the European Cyclists’ Federation and Walk21 have said.
The groups made a combined submission to the public consultation and have since outlined their position online.
While the Dublin Cycling Campaign and Cyclist.ie are local groups linked with the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), the international body made their own submission. The submission directly from the ECF highlights how important it is for Dublin to get the plaza right.
They said that “self-regulation” within larger areas of shared use squares in some cities “works because cyclists can use alternative routes for the same destination.
In the case of College Green, local and international cycling groups seem to agree that there are no close by alternatives to College Green. The Trinity College campus to the east and Temple Bar to the west, combined with the nearby bridge layouts and road layout on the northside, act as barrier to providing main cycle routes.
The group said a plaza where cycling and walking was mixed across its full area “would lead to a lot of frustration if ongoing cyclists in a hurry would have to share such crowded spaces with pedestrians. Even more importantly, it could be a major issue for visual impaired and blind people, who could be facing cyclists any moment. The combination of ongoing cyclists and lingering pedestrians is not very good as well, because their movements are unpredictable for cyclists.”
“Both Walk21 and ECF conclude that in these circumstances a proper readable, clear and recognizable dedicated cycle path is the better solution. Specifically for the well-being of the pedestrians, especially those who are visually impaired and those feeling unsure. Naturally some pedestrians will walk on the cycle path in such situations. Therefore, a clear readability of the cycle path can help to make a ringing cyclist understandable. A proper width will allow the cyclist weaving around them,” their statement said.
The group warned against allowing aesthetics to overrule functional of having clearly marked cycle paths.
They said: “And what about the designers? Some will say that a segregated cycle path through the square would look ugly, claiming that a square with a one-colored floor of authentic stones is the only acceptable design. But wouldn’t it be logic to label them as ‘bad’ designers, if they would sacrifice the usability and even the safety of the users for their own taste? It is like an architect who designs a beautiful building – in which you can’t find the entrance though. Thus, designers of buildings, public spaces and streets should always have the user-friendly criteria in mind while planning!”
The group said that where the main flow of walking and cycling meets “needs special attention for the designers though”. They said that traffic lights or a zebra crossing likely won’t work. They added: “Without motorized or vehicle traffic, respecting the red light or the zebra crossing would come unnatural, and both these solutions wouldn’t fit on a broad square. The only solution is to make a design that supports the self-regulation ability of pedestrians and cyclists. That means that if the aim of the design is clear, cyclists would slow down on this very spot and –most importantly- there would be enough width to make the weaving possible. This could be researched in a microscopic traffic model.”
For its part, Dublin City Council released drawings no cycle path east-west on the planned plaza and photomontages of people on bicycles mixing with people walking, officials later said there would be a cycle path across the plaza and that the detailed design of plaza area would be decided at a later stage.