How BusConnects changes the roads around Rathfarnham

COMMENT & ANALYSIS | LONG READ: This is the first in our look at how BusConnects changes streets and how things could be done better on the Rathfarnham to city centre route.

This is the draft route:

This legend shows the meaning of the key different colours and lines on the drawings:

Here’s the first section we’ll look at. It is marked as number 1 in the above maps:

This route starts poorly with a left hand slip turn for cycling and buses — both the Manual for Urban Roads and Streets and NTA’s Cycle Manual tells street designers to remove slip turns. The turns cause conflict and danger between motorists and pedestrians and cyclists.

The NTA has rebranded the slip turn as a “bypass” of the junction for buses and cyclists but the fact remains it is a slip turn which is against guidance — making one especially for large buses and taxies is worse, not better than one for general traffic.

With this design it increases conflict and danger with cyclists turning in the same direction as buses and with people cycling arraign ahead:

The route here follows Grange Road as it does a sharp left at this cross roads (unusually Grange Road is both the side road and the main road).

The wider drawing view of the junction might make you think that there’s little space here for Dutch-style protected junction design, but…

But the problem is that the NTA is continuing to follow their mix of UK/Irish-Danish-whatever-you’re-having-yourself junction design which is going to lead to more cyclists getting left hooked and hit in other types collisions.

Better looking cycle lanes and tracks without actually applying sustainable safety correctly, will lull people into a false sense of safety.

The satellite view from Google shows just how much space there — easily enough to accommodate Dutch-style protected junctions without a major realignment of the road:

It’s only when started looking along the road that I realised there’s an entrance to a school (marked with an X) and this side of the junction lacks a crossing:

There’s many people shouting in the media and in social media about BusConnects doing massive road widening or massive CPOs of private property, when that’s generally not the case — it’s generally a metre or two off relatively large gardens. Most of the CPOed land seems to be women by councils or other state bodies.

But that’s all a distraction from the real issue of BusConnects: it goes against transport policies and is looking to mainly tack bus priority onto car dominated roads and streets. There seems to be a larger priority given to keeping cars living than building safe and attractive cycle routes.

Where it matters, such as at junctions, walking and cycling is often left with little or no improvement. That’s before we get onto detours for cycling and other issues.

The cross section for between the above and the next junction doesn’t look too bad. At least until…

…the details shows that buses will be pulling in across the cycle track to access bus stops — this is the NTA again failing to design for cycling for all ages and abilities:

The next junction is rather a set of junctions…

…first with the T-junction of Willbrook Road:

…and second with Butterfield Ave and the Rathfarnham Road. This junction should have Dutch-style protected cycle paths — the current design causes unnecessary conflict:

This turning lane design is seen by campaigners not just in Ireland but also Germany and elsewhere as a deadly design as it causes motorists to weave across the path of cyclists going straight on and then leaves cyclists between two sets of vehicles:

On Butterfield Avenue, cycle lanes and a central median are added on the approach to the junction, but the width of the cycle lanes are likely sub-standard (based on the width of the cycle lanes on the main route), but, more importantly, there’s no segregation:

There’s also a few other less obvious conflicts. The below image shows three:

  1. YELLOW: Cyclists and pedestrians mixed because the NTA refuse to adopt proper segregation design which is used on turns like this in the Netherlands, Denmark and newer designs in the UK.
  2. RED: People cycling making the red movement will be hit by motorists making the blue movement.
  3. BLUE: Cyclists making the blue movement are at risk by car, bus and taxi drivers turning in the same direction.

Below there’s no attempt to provide island bus stops (aka bus stop bypasses) — not even on the side with ample space behind a non-historic wall:

The entrance into the castle also is angled in a way which increases speed of cars entering — this should be one of many places where there’s a raised footpath and cycle path, but instead the footpath is not raised and the cycle track is a painted, dashed cycle lane:

This is an overview of the next section:

The junction with Main Street and Castleview again looks small enough but the Google Maps image (different rotation) shows there’s ample space and protected cycle paths could be provided if there was a will but instead the plans include a mix of box turns and shared toucan crossings:

The junction also has the start of the first proposed cycling detour on this route which starts with convoluted two-way cycle paths interrupted by shared areas and then leading into a shared lane way:

The detour includes painted cycle logos on a residential street — which isn’t too bad as it’s a low-volume street. The problem is how it starts…

And it continues and ends as it started with convoluted cycle paths and shared footpaths.

It’s hard enough to get people cycling to take these types of detours, especially short ones like this one.

Between unnecessary shared spaces, unrealistic right angles on the cycle paths and changing the direction of travel on the first section of two-way cycle path… are they even trying to make the detour attractive?

There’s a huge amount of space, but again we get shared footpath space (yellow) rather than an attempt to make the cycle detour attractive.

The South Dublin section of the Dodder Greenway project also makes this junction into a mix of box turns and shared footpaths, but that greenway project isn’t really shown on these drawings.

A two-way path up against a wall means the effective width is lower than 3 metres — not a great design for what’s supposed to be a primary cycle route.

This cycle path could have been a bit wider, the shared spaces could be mostly removed here with ease, the path could have been lined up with the crossing and there could have been separate crossing for walking and cycling — the fact none of these things were done before the draft drawings were released is very telling.

To he continued…

I am editor of IrishCycle.com and have reported on and commented on cycling in Ireland for over a decade. My background is in journalism -- I have a BA in Journalism from DCU and HDip in Print Journalism from BCFE. I wrote about cycling for national newspapers, and then started CyclingInDublin.com for overflow stories. Later the website was re-branded to reflect a more national focus.

2 Comments

  1. I cycled most of that route for 6 years going to secondary school. The best and safest option for cyclists is to go straight down the grange road and rather than taking the left, continue into Rathfarnham wood and use the lane and continue on to castleside drive. you bypass several junctions and pass through quiet residential streets.

  2. @Brian, that sounds like a much better option. If it was possible to create a link to Crannagh Road, then between Ballytore Road and Dodder Park Road it would be a great solution. We would connect to the Dodder Greenway, building the coveted safe cycle network.

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