COMMENT & ANALYSIS | LONG READ: This is part 2b in the series covering the details of how the draft plans for BusConnects changes streets and how things could be done better.
This article covers the Navan Road from the Ashtown Roundabout to Castleknock before the M50. Part 2a covered from the Old Cabra Road to the Ashtown Roundabout, read it here, and 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 an image of 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:
In our last BusConnects article, we covered first half of the details of the Navan Road (read it here). The Ashtown roundabout is where we left off.
The Ashtown roundabout on the Navan Road should be seen as an important link between different routes and areas. Just 350 metres to the north of it is the new residential area around Ashtown train station and the Royal Canal Greenway, and less than 200 metres to the south is the Phoenix Park.
As previously mentioned, we again only see a cycle route along the BusConnects route — there’s not even feeder cycle lanes into the junction. The cycling connections on andThis is really poor practice.
The poor practice of mixing walking and cycling (yellow areas) when there is ample space or alternative options is also a recurring theme with BusConnects.
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As our (rough) alternative design shows, there is ample space to provide segregated cycle paths around this junction — an outline of where cycle paths could go is in orange and new pedestrians crossings are in yellow.
(1) To allow people cycling to go further the traffic movement of buses and private traffic suits, ie while the turning traffic is held for the bus priority signals (which should be straight ahead only).
(2) To future-proof the junction for links between the Phoenix Park and the Royal Canal at Ashtown. Given that CPOs are needed, these short cycling links should be looked at as part of BusConnects, or as a side project.
What could be of help with minimising wait time from the switch over from one side of the road to the other at this junction is a dynamic sign to indicate the fastest way to cycle, basically telling people what combinations of crossings will be quicker to cycle.
As pictured below, it is used in the city of Den Bosch in the Netherlands (see here details and video here).
The NTA’s planned two-way cycle path between this junction and Castleknock includes flipping the flow of the paths — this is illogical, it’s against the standard of keep left, it’s confusing and possibly dangerous.
Reports from Limerick indicates many people cycle on the left when the markings show otherwise. The Netherlands continues to use two-way cycle paths with their normal traffic… why do it differently?
Between the Ashtown roundabout replacement junction and the next junction west of it is pretty basic: two bus lanes, two general lanes and the two-way cycle path:
Here’s a cross-section of this section of road:
Before the road widens more there’s one last junction — housing to the south (bottom of the image) and some industrial/ business units to the north (top of image):
Given the amount of space available (Note the dashed purple lines showing the extent of public land), cycling is treated poorly here — there’s two issues:
- The cycle paths should meet each other straight at the junction and the cycle paths should be continuous up to the junction.
- There should be feeder cycle paths to/from the housing development to the two-way cycle path:
After this the road starts to get wider:
And then we start to see the overpass junction which links to Navan Road Parkway train station:
This is a cross-section for around here:
This is the main overpass section:
The detail on the overpass which connects residential areas to a train station is dreadful — poor connection to the train station but also no (non-shared) connection to the cycle path feeding into the residential areas under construction or planned and the older areas beyond it.
BusConnects is mainly looking out for buses — like Luas Cross City before it — cycling is an afterthought or not in any way improving the rubbish that’s currently in place:
And this is the corresponding cross-section to the overpass:
Cycling is an afterthought but for some reason the BusConnects project includes extra car lanes on the Navan Road — this makes no sense given that the new bus priority measures towards the city will lower the capacity of cars.
This section gets a new lane inbound:
The lane widths are wide but for some reason the bus lane widths are kept at 3 metres, rather than the average width being shared with the bus lanes or, god forbid, provide a tree-lined grass buffer between the bus lane and where people are expected to walk and cycle:
This section of cycle route ends poorly in Castleknock before the M50 and BusConnects does not look at even basic quality improvements of the cycle route from this point to the junction before the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre — a distance of about 2.3km.
But the end of this section of cycle route is as bad as it gets — it has shared footpaths for good measure and then it drops people off at a roundabout without providing any way across the roundabout in any direction:
It’s nearly like the NTA is obsessed with buses and cycling is an afterthought — but that’s not possible as the NTA would be dismissing its own policies and dancing on the graves of the city’s development plans, the National Cycle Policy, the Manual for Urban Roads and Streets, right?
To be continued…