Shared space won’t work on College Green Plaza says Dutch cycling experts

— Dutch cycling experts point to need for segregated cycle path.
— 76% of people in Twitter poll want a well-defined cycle path.

Two cycling experts from the Netherlands have said this week that the planned College Green Plaza needs a well-defined segregated cycle path — it follows our report that Dublin City Council has pulled back from a clear commitment on providing dedicated space for cycling along the plaza.

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One of the experts, Gerrit Faber, had visited College Green last year before making a submission for the European Cyclist’s Federation and Walk21 on College Green.

Speaking by email as an independent expert this week, Faber said: “A College Green plaza without a designated cycle lane wouldn’t be sensible in my view. There are circumstances that a ‘shared space’ for cyclists and pedestrians is possible, but College Green has not such circumstances at all.”

“It is part of one of the most important ongoing cycle routes (and I don’t see an alternative route; a detour through Temple Bar is not realistic). And cyclists in a hurry between home and work behave different from cyclists who almost reached their destination. Moreover is the number of pedestrians too big for a functioning ‘shared space’,” he added.

He said: “There are several desire lines for cyclists in this area. That is why without a clearly, recognisable, designated cycle path, cyclists would turn up everywhere on the square, surprise or even frighten pedestrians and making vulnerable pedestrians unsure. That’s not the solution, that is anarchy. No problem for the strongest, but a hell for vulnerable pedestrians, like kids, elderly and visually impaired. And moreover frustrating for cyclists daily crossing the square on the way to work or school.”

“The design of the square should be a readable, and make it clear what can be expected; not a surprise pinball machine,” Faber concluded.

André Pettinga, a second Dutch cycling expert who has consulted for Irish authorities, has a working knowledge of cycling in Dublin and years experience working as a consultant and also working with Dutch cycling organisations.

Commenting under our article earlier this week, Pettinga said: “From my point of view, cyclists [on College Green] need their own dedicated space for the benefit of all future users of this nice place.”

“Personally I’m not in favour of the ‘shared space concept’ in the way it has been copied from The Netherlands; it simply has limited purpose… it works on small junctions in small towns with limited people / vehicles (various) passing. And in some shopping streets with a wide profile between the facades.”

“The College Green Plaza is an open place to be, to stay, to sit, to chat, to enjoy the sun, etc, Shared space is just for calming small junctions and saving money for implementing and maintaining road surface, street lanterns, traffic signs.”

Dutch example:

Museumplein in Amsterdam includes a cycle path in a busy tourist area — the cycle path goes under the Rijksmuseum and then runs along one side of the plaza:


  1. Segregated, clearly-defined cycling space is essential, not just at this plaza, but in most places. Sharing is not caring, as a shared space means no-one is sure what to do. Cycling space should be clearly defined and segregated to keep everyone safe. Planners need to input safe cycling options from the start, and not wait till an accident happens.


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