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Cycling permeability needed around St Stephen’s Green — this is the politics of space, not an engineering issue

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: With Luas works drawing to a close there’s little signs yet on St Stephen’s Green of the project team following the city’s development plan which calls for contra-flow cycling to be provided for.

Back in February we reported that a long-promised contra-flow cycle route on St Stephen’s Green West may finally be constructed as part of the Luas Cross City works, but that it may not stretch onto the north side of St Stephen’s Green.

In addition to that, the north side of the green has now been made one-way between Grafton Street and Dawson Street (westbound only, when it was two-way previously).

Dublin City Council should be using the Luas works as the time to provide two-way cycling all around the green, but instead it has so-far allowed the TII project team to continue without following city policy. 

TII or Transport Infrastructure Ireland is a merger of two of the state’s least cycling friendly bodies, the Railway Procurement Agency and the National Roads Authority, so it’s not a surprise that they aren’t thinking much about cycling. But the city has a legal responsibility to follow its development plan which calls for contra-flow on one-way streets and also have regard for the Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network, and push others to do the same.

Indeed, the National Transport Authority (NTA) are technically leading TII on this project. So, questions must be asked why there has been so little regard for the planned cycle network, which was developed by the NTA. 

Not only is between Grafton Street and Dawson Street now made one-way, but after Luas was put it, over two thirds of the space on the carriageway is now left to taxis and loading, with no dedicated space for cycling in any direction:


Providing for cycling along the Luas Cross City route would — as consultants warned — be a lot easier if it was designed from the start.

Now, the city might have some more difficult decisions to make around the politics of space, especially, around the junction of Dawson Street.

Even at the sections made narrow by Luas, there is many ways to provide for cycling perimiblty in both directions around St Stephens Green. There is also space at the existing Luas stop on the green (pictured below).


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We must be clear on this: it’s not an engineering question. This is about following policy and it’s political questions — does Dublin want to provide for cycling or not? Will TII, the NTA and council bother following their own policy and the development plan? If not, policies aren’t worth the paper they are written on.

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3 comments

  1. More depressing news relating to statutory agencies and their near-contempt for proper provision for cycling for all the ages.
    Climate-change imperatives don’t count either in favour of the cycling mode.
    We are regressing in relation to proper provision for cycling in comparison to European continental neighbours.

    As you note even the City’s Development Plan (2016-’22) is ignored. That DP is specific at p.118: “It contains specific proposals to improve public realm and prioritise public transport use and active travel”.
    At p. 120: “In accordance with the National Transport Authority strategy, a hierarchy of transport users is supported, with pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users at the top of this hierarchy, having their needs considered first in the planning of transport provision”.

    Objective MT2: “to continue to promote modal shift from private car use towards increased use of more sustainable forms of transport such as cycling, walking and public transport, and to co-operate with the NTA, Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) and other transport agencies in progressing an integrated set of transport objectives.
    Initiatives contained in the government’s ‘Smarter Travel’ document and in the NTA’s draft transport strategy are key elements of this approach” (p. 122).

    MT 11 at p. 126: “To continue to promote improved permeability for both cyclists and pedestrians in existing urban areas in line with the National Transport Authority’s document ‘Permeability – a best practice guide’. Also, to carry out a permeability and accessibility study of appropriate areas in the vicinity of all Luas, rail and BRT routes and stations, in co-operation with Transport Infrastructure Ireland and the National Transport Authority.

    It seems to me that the senior management teams in the Department of Transport and all these agencies are following a line to keep on ‘truckin at all costs.

    Reply

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