COMMENT & ANALYSIS: Cherrywood is a new suburb in south Dublin which is expected to house around 30,000 people when fully built, but sadly this greenfield site is yet another example of getting design for cycling horribly wrong.
“If I were you, I wouldn’t start from here”, might be what Kerrymen tell lost tourists, but maybe we should start saying the same thing to Irish authorities when it comes to designing for cycling?
The evidence is mounting — first we got the Cherrywood Planning Scheme 2014 (link); then we found out about massive junction on the link road between the M50 and N11 which dissects the site; then details were published of a poor new connection to the N11; and, finally, the Urban Form Development Framework for the town centre was published.
This is the road and street layout and hierarchy for Cherrywood:
From the files the council has made available publicly, the following are examples of how these streets will be designed (at least some are under construction, see here).
The worst junction of the whole Cherrywood project is between the M50-N11 link road and Tully Vally Road / Cherrywood Ave (pictured below). This is a primary cycle route within the development and a primary route to other areas within the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council area.
There’s so much wrong here: A lack of segregation on what is clearly a meeting of two high-speed roads, narrow cycle lanes and narrow cycle paths, staggered crossings for walking and cycling movements, slip turns within an urban area.
Cllr Ossian Smyth suggested that the council look at a grade-segregated solution — like Eindhoven’s Hovenring — where cycling and walking are fully segregated. But instead the council somehow this this is acceptable in 2017:
Smaller junctions within the development have a mix of strange and more common cycling and walking-unfriendly designs: There’s zero need to mix cycling and motoring and mix cycling and pedestrians like this, but it seems Irish road designer and authorities want to keep pretending that they know better that the Netherlands.
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Below are three samples of other junctions planned for Cherrywood. Rather than providing decent cycling paths suitable for all, we have a mix of narrow cycle lanes and cycling mixed on footpath surfaces:
This is very strange — possibly the strangest mixing of cycling and walking and cycling a motoring I’ve even seen:
And we have walking priority roundabouts where cyclists must dismount to cross on the zebra crossings — councils and the National Transport Authority don’t seem to care that the Department of Transport has made it clear that cyclists must dismount.
They clearly don’t care that most people who cycle don’t want to be mixed with pedestrians and many pedestrians — most notably people with disabilities– don’t want to mix with cycling:
Cross-section drawings also show a lot of the detail and who exactly is the priority:
On Druid’s Glen Road there’s still loads of space to build a green buffer between cycling and what is likely to be a road used by heavy traffic. But instead the lane widths are kept at 3.5 metres wide — these is the same width as the traffic lanes on the M50 which has a 100km/h speed limit:
Trees segregating cars from Luas but minimal to no segregation between cars and people cycling on the main town centre street, called Grand Parade… but maybe more to the point: no clear reason why motorists would have unfettered access to this road when the car parking seems to be underground and there’s main roads close by all around it. The result of these seems obvious — cars will use the cycle track for parking when they pop into a shop or make drop offs of children etc:
Cycle lanes with sub-standard widths and no segregation on a road marked with 50km/h roads — roads with such design typically have speeds of over 60km/h, especially taxis and buses, and, in this case, the general traffic lanes are also 3.5 meters, which will encourage even higher speeds:
Bishop’s Street is apparently a 30km/h street but the traffic lanes all remain at 3 meters and only the cycle lanes are narrowed to a sub-standard 1.5 metres — the message here is that cycling beside buses in a narrow cycle lane is fine as long as you mark the street with a 30km/h sign. Most people who uses narrow cycle lanes beside bus lanes in 30km/h zones in the city centre might tell you otherwise.
And on Castle Street we have loads of car parking but no cycling facilities — it’s apparently fine to mix with buses when there’s a 30km/h sign… I wonder do many parents agree?
Consultations who did advance work looking at what walking and cycling links were needed within the site showed the primary routes:
But the by the time the Urban Form Development Framework for the main town centre is agreed on, the cycling part of these links are watered down — note “steps / lift required” on a good chunk of secondary routes:
The map isn’t very clear, is it? How about this one:
That’s still not clear? We looked at it closely and then marked the “steps / lift required” segments in red — from this we see the permeability for cycling is very limited. If it’s not designed to exclude cycling permeability, they could not do a better job at it, while hiding the fact in plain sight:
In the middle of the town centre — there’ll be three north-south routes across the M50-N11 link road. Two of the routes are marked above as blue primary cycle routes but one is at-grade with the M50-N11 link road, the other is Grand Parade (see more details below), and red link is a walking and cycling overpass, but it is marked as having steps / lifts and the intent seems to be for cyclists to walk it all:
The fancy cross-sections for the town centre again shows how everything but cycling gets green segregation from motorists — these are different parts of Grand Parade:
Maximum motoring access with little clear reasoning — if the council and the developers involved were were not willing to keep cars off all or most of this route, a compromise could have been alternating one-way access for motorists with parking and loading provided. Instead we get unprotected cycle tracks which are likely to get used for loading, parking and drop-offs:
Maybe the intend of unlimited motoring access on this street is to be able to cruise around showing off your sports car?
Some of the other drawings shows the stark lack of vision for cycling — lack of segregation, no protection at junctions, bus stops without bus stop bypasses, parking bays inside cycle lanes and so on. This isn’t a retro-fit job — this is the best they can do on a greenfield site:
Here is a side street off Grand Parade — I’ve circled around steps and lifts — this isn’t just poor design for cycling but it’s poor design for universal access for all — prams, wheelchairs, mobility scooters etc.
At the south end of the town centre we again can find a 50km/h road with no segregation for cycling:
Overall we’re amazed by the plans for Cherrywood — Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council have done some better retro-fit jobs than the overall standard of this projects. As I’m writing this, I have to keep reminding myself that this is nearly fully a greenfield site.
The lack of quality and vision for cycling and sustainable streets is shocking. It should be yet another wake up call to cycling campaigners and anybody who wants liveable streets and sustainable transport, that our standards are too low.