COMMENT & ANALYSIS: Dublin City Council’s plans for the Clontarf to City Centre Cycle Route does not have a good history of consultation — at the pre-consultation stage, the council’s consultants claimed they talked to the Dublin Cycling Campaign when they didn’t, and, at the formal public consultation, the council dismissed removal of iconic trees in Fairview, clearly a mistake.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) is effectively pushing councillors to approve some of its experimental bus rapid transit design. Basically, the council and NTA are putting an undefined and as-of-yet unjustified level of bus priority over basic cycling safety.
But, under the NTA’s vision, conventional buses will have to squeeze into the flow of people on bicycles to get to bus stops. The NTA obsession with this unproven design is why the council is so dismissive of providing a decent level of segregated. People cycling this route are possibly literally being throw under the bus in this design.
IrishCycle.com’s position on this was first informed by the city’s original cycling officer when the project was first developed, then from looking at some of the best examples of two-way cycle paths in London and the Netherlands, and, finally, seeing the poor motivating factors why the council switched from its original plan to the poor quality plan now outlined by the council.
As we reported at the start of September, Brendan O’Brien, the council’s head of traffic services, claimed that to accommodate a two-way cycle path, side roads between Annesley Bridge and Newcomen Bridge would have to be signalised
But this is at odds with the design of recent high-quality designs in the UK and the Netherlands. So, we wrote to O’Brian and Owen Keegan, the council’s CEO, with examples of two-way paths in Amsterdam and London with minor junctions without signalisation. No reply yet — the council was busy briefing councillors with more misinformation. These images were part of a presentation to councillors within the last week:
So, the council are talking up the risk of minor of short, low-volume and dead end streets. But nothing about the far greater risks from mixing bicycles and buses at bus stops or the major risk of left turning motorists at unprotected junctions. The NTA and council washes their hands of this by removing the segregation before the stops and junctions, but this doesn’t remove the risk.
And, of course, motorists never wait on cycle lanes when such are not segregated or when only one-way.
Examples of two-way cycle path with uncontrolled side streets
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Prins Hendrikkade in Amsterdam is similar in traffic levels to North Strand Road, especially the section of the Prins Hendrikkade which has only a two-way cycle path on one side. It has a number of uncontrolled side streets inside the street’s two-way cycle path.
The below images from Prins Hendrikkade are stills and links to Street View (and you can also find a video of it here on YouTube).
Bonus example: Video of London route with minor side streets:
Some of the above examples have buffer space (which is the ideal situation), but most of the examples don’t. And Prins Hendrikkade is just one example — you can also find side streets on the two-way routes in different parts of the Netherlands and London.
There was no elaboration as to why Dublin would have to signalise such minor side streets when high-quality two-way routes elsewhere have non-signalised junctions at minor side streets. Where there is alternative access, other cities also look at limiting side street access to cycling and walking only, this should be possable at 1-4 locations on the full route, and it could be left till after the route is in place if issues arise.
If the council is not willing to provide two-way, then they could do high-quality one-way cycle paths. But cycle paths on both sides brings up more issues, including:
- more left turn conflicts at the mid-sized and larger, higher volume junctions where the higher danger is and which would be harder to address without impacting more on buses / the kerb-side BRT and general traffic.
- more turns into more side roads on the west side which are far longer streets and also not dead ends.
- twice the number of bus stops to deal with (bus stops on two sides rather than just one).
- poor effective cycle path widths without taking more space or lanes away from other uses (two-way provides more effective space)
- poor ability to buffer all parking / loading without taking space / lanes from elsewhere.
- poor ability to extend route from its planned end point at Connolly Station to the quays to meet the Liffey Cycle Route (a two-way path would be far easier to link directly via the Custom House one-way system).
The best way to address the above and other issues is a Dutch-quality two-way cycle path — surely the council can stand up to the NTA on this?