COMMENT & ANALYSIS | LONG READ: This is part 2a in the series covering the details of how the draft plans for BusConnects changes streets and how things could be done better.
This covers the Navan Road from the Old Cabra Road to the Ashtown Roundabout. Part one covered from the quays to the Navan Road, read it here.
The first route we are looking at in detail is the route to Blanchardstown. Below is the overall route between Dublin city centre and Dublin 15 along which the bus priority measures are planned to be upgraded:
This legend shows the meaning of the key different colours and lines on the drawings:
BusConnects and NTA policy even before looked to increase the distance between bus stops in order to speed up buses and, with other measures, improve the bus network.
Below is the distances between bus stops on what might be termed as the inside M50 but suburban section of the route — between the North Circular Road and the Ashtown roundabout. The policy change isn’t happening here:
220m — 333m — 220m — 288m — 365m — 354m — 345m — 233m — 283m — 212m — 216m
205m — 343m — 465m — 315m — 224m — 208m — 302m — 228m — 256m — 260m — 205m
What distance should stops be from each other? In a 2010 blog post, bus expert, Jarrett Walker, said: “In Australia, and in most parts of Europe that I’ve observed, local-stop services generally stop every 400m (1/4 mile, 1320 feet).”
If we look at locating bus stops about every 400m or a bit more while trying to serve all main points of interest (ie schools, shops, sports fields etc), then we get the below map (with stops in both directions around about the same location). It would mean 2 fewer stops and would bring the average up to under 430m.
Most of these locations would also allow for bus stop bypasses with little or no land take from houses (most of the locations are beside green spaces, Garda stations, or wider sections of road etc).
Onto the planned details…
We start at the junction of the Old Cabra Road and the Cabra Road — as before when looking at these images we are working from left to right.
There’s a large amount of problems here for cycling:
- As discussed previously the two-cycle path on the Old Cabra Road is a bad idea
- Use of shared sections of footpaths which are disliked by both cyclists and pedestrians.
- The plan seems to suggest the main cycling flow from the Navan Road to the city centre should cross both the bus priority and main general motorised traffic flow twice.
- The plan seems to take little account of the cycling flows to/from the directions which are not along the BusConnects route.
- For people cycling from the Cabra Road to the Navan Road there’s new pinch point created and people cycling will likely be merging with the bus lane slip turn with no apparent way to get onto the two-way cycle path.
- Bus stops without bus stop bypasses.
As we don’t think there should be two-way on the Old Cabra Road, we will mainly deal with the flow of people cycling from the Navan Road onto the Old Cabra Road (ie towards the city centre).
Below we’ve overlaid three lined routes in coloured lines a and arrow:
- Green: The cycling route which seems to be proposed. This crosses the bus priority and the main flow of motorised traffic twice.
- Purple: This would run much like a Dutch protected cycling junction
- Blue: This could work if buses are being given a very high level of priority and buses and most other traffic at the two junctions are stopped when busses get property. But this might not fit in with traffic light signals, especially off-peak for buses.
Note: None of this looks at how people cycling would get from the Old Cabra Road to the Rathoath Road.
The use of space at this junction is a matter of priority — it’s a large junction and the NTA to date are giving priority to getting buses flowing better while keeping cars flowing as best as possable. This is part of what we refer to as the politics of space.
The planners to date are being dismissive of giving priority to walking and cycling as per local, regional and national policy, and the all ages and abilities commitments in the Dublin City Development Plan, which even the NTA has to follow.
Space is also being misused — this space circled in red in the first half of the image below looks like its not part of the road. It’s actually a closed slip turn, which is good, but why would you draw a footpath and cycle lane like this? If the people are only going to the crossing and Rathoath Road, then why not draw the footpath going straight there? And a cycle lane on the Rathoath Road? Is this all down to sloppiness? These drawings are not fit for any level of public consultation.
This cross-sections seems to refer to the area on front of Cabra Library on the Navan Road:
What’s the alternative? Here’s what’s outlined by the NTA and then it modified to include more Dutch-like cycle paths allowing people cycling of all ages and abilities to move in any direction?
The current junction into Cabra Library, Tesco, McDonalds, Iceland, and the social welfare office — note that no allowance here is made for people who are cycling who want to turn into here… maybe none of these places attract people on bicycles? Again: This is one of the main recurring flaws in BusConnects — little allowance made for cycling across or on/off the BusConnects route.
The bus stop pictured in the above and below image are the same one — this is one of many cases where there is CPOs planned but they would not CPO just a little extra to make space for a bus stop bypass.
Segregating cycle paths at bus stops is one of the first types of cycle path segregation which was carried out in many places in the Netherlands — it was and still sometimes is done on streets where the rest of the street has non-segregated cycle lanes.
The practice of not using bus stop bypasses is unsafe and unfair not just to people cycling but to bus passengers and poor for bus priority too. If you’re going to put in near-continuous cycle lanes or tracks, you’re going to attract more people to cycling — these less experienced people will be at greater risk around buses and the larger volume of people cycling will delay buses. So, not trying to provide bus stop bypasses is highly questionably.
Here the NTA are CPOing land to fit everything in, but again the designers did not bother to add a little more for a turn into the side road or a bus stop bypass:
Here’s a cross-section along this section:
Most of the rest of the Navan Road is fairly basic:
The green area on front of the Garda station or part of the car park could be reworked to allow for a bus stop bypass — this is Government land.
Indeed, the gardens on the other side of the Nephin Road are already been partly CPOs — realigning the road and paths to allow space for walking and cycling on the south side of the road (shown with shared spaces in yellow). An alternative is removing a section of the outbound bus lanes.
This cross-section shows below standard 1.5 metres cycle lanes (or tracks?) while footpaths are above standard at 2.5 metres — this is
Here’s a another bus stop beside reasonably long gardens which are going to be subject to a small bit of CPOing, but the NTA again have not seen it fit to CPO an extra 2 metres to allow for a bus stop bypass.
These images show that the NTA have little or no internist in attracting school children to cycling or that they have little regard for their safety — Why otherwise would the NTA go to consultation with a school car set-down area inside a cycle lane? Some driver outside schools (ie parents) act worse than they do anywhere else.
The north side has enough space for a bus stop bypass in line with a set down area outside a cycle path, and the south side — again — is to be CPOed anyway and another metre or two at a few houses is worth it.
This is just to note: Most of the CPOs in BusConnects that I’ve seen so-far are small sections off just some gardens / driveways and often the land marked for CPOs isn’t gardens — it’s tiny bits of green areas of institutions, Garda station grounds etc
Again no bus stop bypasses and no allowance for people cycling to turn into large housing estates… is the NTA afraid they might cycle rather than take the bus?
The following two images are similar to the rest of the route:
Here, there’s no bus stop bypass despite a large green area outside St Vincents on the south side of the road and the bus stop on the north side could be relocated to the west of the side road where there’s a smaller green area, enough space for a bus stop bypass:
This shows just how close some of the bus stops are on this section:
And then the bus stop to the left in this image is the last one to the right of the last image:
Here again, there’s no way for people cycling to cross the road — and if they come out of the side road’s housing estate heading towards the Phoenix Park or the Dublin 15 etc, they will be faced with a kerb blocking direct entry into the bus lane and cycle track:
This is the replacement of the Ashtown roundabout — which we’ll comment on in the next article…