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Dublin City is finally proposing new zebra crossings… but…

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: And now for something completely different… or at least something less cycling-focused: Dublin City Council are proposing zebra crossings — the first we know of for years.

The last we know which was built in the city council area was where the Italian Quarter walkway crosses the road at Great Strand Street:

If you live in Dublin you might not know about it, but zebra crossings have made more than a comeback across the country in the last decade or two. There’s now zebra crossings in towns that never had them before.

The below map shows just the locations of the ones we know the last exact locations of — there’s other new ones, for example in Galway now shown (you can email other locations to hello@irishcycle.com).

Zooming in on Dublin, there’s only two we know of in the Dublin City Council area:

This looks quite at the time the photo was taken but it is the main traffic route Foxford and might exceed the safe traffic level of zebra crossing


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Informally, we’ve heard some claims that you can’t have zebra crossing at junctions but councils have proven that wrong and we can’t find those guidelines — not in legislation or the traffic signs manual.

As the main photo above and the photos directly above and below indicates, zebras at junctions is common enough.

This is the same crossing from the other direction when the street was a bit busier a short time later — note the drivers were yielding to pedestrians:

IMAGE: Most countries in Europe use a variant of this sign at crossings painted with zebra markings, but Ireland requires a Belisha beacon. While beacons might be a good idea in many locations, in other areas they add unnecessary extra cost and clutter.

Chapter 7 of the Traffic Signs Manual seems to be to blame for the rather ugly ladder effect on some zebra crossings, the manual states:

“Pedestrian Lines: Pedestrian lines indicate the limits of the pedestrian crossing area. They consist of two lines across the carriageway at a minimum distance of 2.0m apart (normally 2.4m apart). The lines are white, continuous and 100mm wide.”

The great minds at the road safety section of the Department of Transport seem to have real issue with giving priority to walking and cycling, but the idea a zebra crossing needs these extra lines to tell people where to walk goes against the implantation in most other countries.

Zebras look far better without what I call the ladder lines and there’s no real issue with clarity:

There are some issues with zebra crossings when some motorists don’t yield to people unwilling to step out into traffic — in the below photo the use of the flexi bollards with stop sign symbol is a giveaway that there’s an issue (the location is a two-lane one-way street with frequent speeding).

A raised crossing would help correct such problems — these are not favored by a lot of roads engineers and they will often tell people that the raised crossing is not sutable for heavy traffic on busier roads. However, a raised crossing was in place in Ballaghaderreen on the N5 with heavy general and truck traffic (before the town was bypass), so, they’ll work anywhere where a zebra crossing is likely to be placed.

Sometimes a very slightly raised crossing works well:

At night, especially where zebras are used in suburban areas, the crossing should have better than normal street lighting:

What about zebra crossing in Dublin?

The proposals which are to be presented to councils at the south east area committee meeting are for Sandymount Green (see: report and drawing) seems forget some of the lessons learned from around the country:

The strange thing is that the locations of the zebras in this plan for Sandymount Green are borderline whether they should be zebra crossings given the relatively low traffic flow on those sides raised crossings without the zebras and beacons.

According to the council’s data, Sandymount Green North (top left) has only a traffic flow of 1,400 cars etc between 7am and 7pm, and Sandymount Green South (bottom left) has just over 1,000 cars etc in the same time frame.

Meanwhile, the planned fully signalised crossing on Sandymount Green West (left) could be a raised zebra crossings and moved up to the planned built-out across from the west entrance to the green (suggested location in green). The non-signalised crossing (blue arrow circled in red) beside this could be moved slightly in from the junction and be upgraded to a raised zebra crossing.

The remaining non-signalised crossings should be raised.

Also no action is taken to slow traffic coming from Newgrove Avenue (road shown coming from the right of the image) where 75% of motorists are traveling faster than the 30km/h limit.

Another location which could do with a raised crossing — to reduce speed and add to mobility — is left with nothing with a fairly clear pedestrian desire line:

It will probably be side that this is too close to the two junctions and, as it currently is, I’d agree. But adding a decent build-out on Seafort Ave (where the people with the pram are crossing the wide street below) would make the are more suitable for a crossing. And maybe look at making Sandymount Green North one-way for motoring and that would help to added more of a build-out and reduce the amount of tarmac at this corner of the green.

Places like Sandymount are the perfect place to start using zebra crossings to tame the traffic in the village. While it would be wrong to expect zebras to be used on main roads or roads with four lanes, the city council still seem to remain fearful using zebra crossings on even mildly busy local roads in a village setting.

So, Dublin are planning more zebra crossing, but maybe not in the locations needed.

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7 comments

  1. Brussels would be a great city for Dublin’s planners to visit. They have zebra crossings by default at every junction. They follow desire lines and are not complicated by ladder lines (good term, Cian!) or paraphernalia like belisha beacons. Here’s a good note about them: https://www.danielbowen.com/2017/10/16/brussels-zebra-crossings/

    Most of all, zebras in Brussels don’t hold up traffic. Au contraire, they make it flow much better, but with thousands of eye-contact interactions between different road users and a steady stock of social capital built up with every wave of acknowledgement from pedestrian to motorist.

    Place Flagey in particular is a marvel. The square is a junction of at least eight busy roads and there is not a single traffic light, just free-flowing people on foot, by bike, or in car.
    https://assets.latzundpartner.de/media/cache/62/bd/62bd12d02e12174285492440259fdf0a.jpg

    Reply
  2. Villamoura Portugal also has an abundance of pedestrian crossings without Belisha beacons.

    The drivers always stopped and never tried to beat the pedestrian to the crossing, quite the opposite in fact.

    It transforms the Pedestrian experience.
    You really are a first class citizen.

    Reply
  3. Would they be necessary at all if pedestrian lights had a more appropriate waiting time – say 30 seconds after the button is pressed? The lights on Jervis Street at the Church take forever, as do those at Rathmines at the end of Leinster Road.

    Reply
  4. @ebairead: I’d look at it the other way round. Would pedestrian lights be necessary if there were zebra crossings? Zebras give priority by default to pedestrians at all times, and it fundamentally changes the relationship between motorist and those on foot.

    Reply
  5. zebras are in use a lot in dublin i cross at least 2 every day they can be found at the entrance to most big shopping centres the main difference between them and pedestrian lights is for a person with visual difficulties zebra crossings are dangerous as theres no obvious line to cross and no knowing what silent vehicles are nearby like most new electric vehicles

    Reply
    • Martin, if there’s “no obvious line to cross”, it’s not a zebra crossing and you’re thinking about something else or getting the details wrong.

      Reply

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