— Focus will be on large junctions first.
— Left hooks and not clearing large junctions to be tackled.
People cycling in the Dublin City area could benefit as what is mostly decades-old technology is re-branded “smart” and used at 40 junctions, which have yet to be defined.
The funding of “smart” tech is in line will the focus on this within the programme for the Velo-City 2019, an international cycling conference, which Dublin City Council is hosting next year and which the Department of Transport highlighted today that it is a key sponsor.
It is unclear what exact will be all the methods used at junctions, but they Department of Transport says it includes people on bicycles not have enough time to cross a junction before opposing signals go green and collisions between people on bicycles and drivers turning left.
The funding will also include technology to count bicycles at different locations which is seen by international planners and engineers as a key tool in planning for safe cycle route.
The core technologies to be used is bicycle-sensitive inductive loops in the ground and “smart” thermal imaging detectors — both are basically old technology, although greater use of them has been made internationally in cycling safety in recent years.
Transport minister Shane Ross — pictured above for today’s announcement — said: “I want to encourage more people to cycle and I realise that safety is a concern to many, so I am continuing to invest in safety measures for cyclists. This €400,000 will improve safety for cyclists at 40 key junctions across Dublin City Centre and is a great example of my Department and the National Transport Authority working with local authorities to improve cycling and walking infrastructure generally.”
He also highlighted that that the infrastructure side of BusConnects will include 200km of cycle route upgrades across Dublin.
With no realisation that it has left Irish local authorities to rely on 12-year-old guidance from another country, the Department of Transport press release said that: “Within the Dublin City Council area traffic signals are set to operate with safety timings which are normally calculated using the UK Department for Transport advisory leaflet 1/06. The safety times referred to are the ‘intergreens’ ie time from end of end of green on one approach to start of green on an opposing approach. It is assumed vehicles are travelling at a uniform speed at or close to the posted speed limit.”
“This approach allows for safety at junctions for vehicular traffic but raises issues when the proportion of bicycles at an intersection starts to rise due to the relatively slow speed of cyclists in an urban environment and the variability of speed across types of cyclists. In Copenhagen the average speed of cyclists is 15km/hour and this seems to be replicated in several cities around the world. The issue therefore for a cyclist is that on a 50km/h road they are travelling through the intersection at a third of the speed of cars and take three times as long to safely pass through,” it said.
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The Department added: “One approach therefore is to change the calculations at junctions from 50km/h to 15km/h and add on the additional intergreen time, however this is wasteful for a number of reasons.” It said that this included “The longer the intergreen time the less green time available for Trams, Buses, Taxis and general traffic and so increasing congestion and journey times for public transport” and that at some times of the day there are less people cycling.
According to Copenhagen city council, while the overall average speed of bicycle users in Copenhagen is around 16km/h or more, on main routes this is higher and the city has “green wave” with a required speed of 20km/h to keep going without seeing a red light on the route. A Dutch local authority also confirmed to IrishCycle.com only this week that the average speed for bicycle users is closer to 20km/h on their city’s main cycle routes, especially on larger roads or otherwise away from the city centre.
Some media reports on the Department’s statement have miss-reported that the funding is just for the city centre, as the statement said that the junctions to be targeted will be “especially the junctions in the 60km/h areas”, which are all outside the city centre except around where the Chapelizod bypass (former N4) meets the South Circular Road.
While the solution of active detection of bicycles is best practice, the analyses does not fit with standard findings on cycling speeds around large junctions, and international practices around reducing the overall length of the traffic light sequences or ‘cycles’, which is viewed to be better for walking, cycling, and public transport.
This thinking of reducing the traffic light ‘cycle’ time is also in Irish guidance, the Manual for Urban Roads and Streets. It was also in a draft of the Dublin City Centre Transport Study, but was missing from the final copy.
The Department of Transport statement said: “Initially the installation would be at the physically big junctions in the city centre and surrounding areas and especially the junctions in the 60km/h areas. It is now therefore proposed to identify 40 junctions within the City Council area where this detection can be installed and where benefits for cyclists can be quickly achieved, works will commence in 2018. This would be a phase 1 list with work then commencing on a phase 2 list once the benefits of this approach have been quantified and realised.”