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New Phoenix Park two-way cycle path to be only 1.25 metres each way

A new two-way cycle path in the Phoenix Park in Dublin will be restricted to a width of just 2.5 metres wide when the traffic lane beside it will be around the width of a lane on the M50 motorway.

The Office of Public Works (OPW), which looks after the park, has defended the width of the cycle path under construction on Wellington Road claiming that it is in line with the National Cycle Manual. 

While the width calculator in the cycle manual seems to suggest 2.5 meters is suitable for a “basic” two-way cycle path, it and other guidance highlights the importance of allowing for side-by-side social cycling and for narrowing traffic lanes as a means of traffic calming.

The OPW has so-far not answered repeated questions on the width of the planned general traffic lane, but estimates that the existing roadway is mostly around 6 metres wide, which leaves close to 3.5 metres for the one-way general traffic lane beside the new cycle path — that’s the general width of a traffic lane on the M50 where the speed limit is 100km/h. The speed limit in the park is 50km/h.

Drawings for the project showing the northern end of Wellington Road highlight how narrow the cycle path will be compared to the space between the footpaths at this end of Wellington Road:

Paul McDonnell, the park superintendent with the OPW, said: “I wish to advise that the cycle trail along the Wellington Road was designed to the National Cycle manual. The cycleway itself is a two way cycle track, each lane being 1.25 metre wide, with a 225mm (0.225 metre) median between the cycle trail and the carriageway.”

The median is to be cobblestones inserted into the roadway, which will make widening the cycle path difficult after the construction is finished.

Illegal parking of cars partly or fully on the grass along the road has caused problems for years, so we asked how motorists will be stopped from parking on the cycle path, but the OPW only outined the new arangments. McDonnell said: “With the introduction of the one way system and the new cycle trail there will be no parking on Wellington Road. There is a car park to the bottom of Khyber Road, less than 250 metres away from the end of Wellington Road.”

He added: “The excavation and construction works are to refurbish the road structure to stretches of Wellington Road. The introduction of the new one way traffic flow is to eliminate conflicts of movement on a narrow road for both cars and cyclists. Its hoped the new cycle trail will greatly enhance the amenity of the Park for cyclists using the Park.”

On the question of the lack of public consultation on the details of the project, McDonnell said: “These works are carried out in conjunction with the objectives of the Phoenix Park Conservation Management Plan and this involved public consultation.”

Project details

The northern / eastern end of the project:

A typical section of the project, with the width of the traffic lane and narrow cobblestone buffer shown between the yellow line and the green shaded area:

The western end of the project includes a plan for a very wide area for cars exiting the road:

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  1. The best way to discourage parking of cars is to make the roadway as narrow as possible consistent with safety. If a car owner thinks his car may get scraped he will park elsewhere, however if the road is wider they will be happy to park on the cycleway.

  2. The park superintendent is reported as stating “It is hoped that the new cycle trail will greatly enhance the amenity of the park for cyclists.” At a width of 2.5m the level of service of the new trail is C, the fourth lowest of five. (This assumes that the effective width of the cycle trail is 2.5m and that it is not further reduced by the height of the cobblestones.) The basic two way from the manual is 1.75m per Direction or 3.5m for a two way track so I doubt that many cyclists will be impressed.

    Of all the sections of the National Cycle Manual, the most badly written and most misinterpreted is the section dealing with width and associated level of service. The whole idea of having a manual on line is that it can be easily updated or amended but as far as I am aware the NTA have never made any changes to it. this needs to be amended as a matter of urgency.


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