COMMENT & ANALYSIS | LONG READ: This is the second in our look at how BusConnects changes streets and how things could be done better on the Rathfarnham to city centre route. This article covers Terenure.
This is the draft route for all of the Rathfarnham route:
This legend shows the meaning of the key different colours and lines on the drawings:
The last article covered Rathfarnham inbound towards the city centre. It ended at the bridge over the River Dodder and just after that bridge is where this article starts.
We start on the sheet for map 5:
Again there’s more bus stops without bus stop bypasses, but more surprising is this junction where the cycle track ends with a shared footpath surface (yellow) and no obvious way to cycle straight on.
Bus stop bypasses are vital for making safe and attractive cycling — there’s little point having segregated cycle paths only for that segregation to end where buses are pulling in. There’s good reason why the Dutch started on bus stop bypasses before they segregated other sections of the same roads and streets.
There’s also only a pedestrian or toucan crossing on one of the three arms of the junction with Rathdown Park in Terenure. BusConnects should not continue the old trend of pedestrians having to crossing part of signalled junctions unaided. The Rathdown Park part of this junction must have a pedestrian crossing over it. We could refer to national guidance but this is just basics.
At the other side of this junction, there’s a large amount of dashed cycle lanes which motorists can legally enter into — there is no reason for this beside kerbs.
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In fact, there’s no cross-section with this drawing section which means all of these cycle tracks, both solid and dashed lined, could all just be painted cycle lanes. This is a recurring issue with BusConnects as segregated and non-segregated cycle tracks are shown in the same colour — the only difference is that the cross-sections show either level or slightly raised cycle tracks. But it’s also unclear how representative the cross sections are suppose to be of each drawing sheet.
Just tens of meters down the road, there’s a whole load more dashed cycle lanes which motorists can enter legally. On top of this, there’s bus stops also interrupting cycle tracks when there’s ample space for ‘island’ bus stops or ‘bus stop bypasses’ around here.
One bus stop bypass could be easily provided at the location shown above with the wide footpath area and the other could be provided by moving it to beside Lidl where there is ample space which is not apparent from this drawing:
The area on front of Lidl is an example of how looking at the BusConnects drawings alone can also be misleading.
From the bottom right hand corner of the last drawing image it looks like there’s little space there but Google Street View shows how much space there is — even if some CPOing is needed, it’s just a small bit of a large paved area outside a supermarket, it’s not metres of somebody’s garden or driveway:
Next is the sheet for map 6…
The route we are dealing with in this article takes a right hand turn here towards Rathimes — also shown here is the end of the Tallaght to Terenure BusConnects route on Terenure Road East (which we’ll deal with in another article).
To give people orientation — the map has turned 90 degrees clockwise, and the purple outline of a bus stop in the bottom left of the below image is the same bus stop as the one pictured to the right of the last image:
The main trust of the route as it turns from the Rathfarnham Road onto the Terenure Road East is the removal of narrow cycle lanes
At the start of Terenure Road East the two images here show the current Street View image with narrow cycle lanes (which are effective as filtering lanes).
And this is the BusConnects plan for the same section of street as the above two images — the narrow, dashed cycle lanes are removed and instead a bus lanes is put in just one direction.
Even thought the existing cycle lanes are sub-standard, this is one of many downgrades in BusConnects for cycling. It has to be asked is transport capacity, safety, or village life best served by removing the cycle lanes and pushing buses and other motorised traffic closer to the footpaths? A large part of the car congestion problem here could be elevated by having a bus gate in Rathmines (which we’ll discuses more in the next article).
This looks like it might not fit but my estimate is that the street is around 13 metres wide and this does allow for three lanes of 3 metres and footpaths. Exactly what widths the footpaths will be is a question which will need to be confirmed.
It is also strange that in the last image one of the footpaths looks to be narrowed while the other looks to be widened…
Just to make sure there wasn’t a perception issue with my eyes or brain, I copied a section of bus lane and overlaid it onto the footpath beside the bus lane — so, according to the drawing, the footpath on one side of the junction is to be wider than the bus lane? This is a bit strange for such a narrow spot which is being redesigned to fit two general lanes and a bus lane.
For the record, this is the current traffic light location and the size of the footpath at this location:
This following image is a unofficial and also guess work — which is hard on this section as the building-to-building widths vary so much.
It illustrates that this is worse than bus lanes on both sides of the road, not just for cycling safety but also for cycling priority as people will find it harder to filter past cars in narrow lanes and no cycle lanes:
This brings us back to the junction and how exactly is it suppose to function for people cycling… or not. The junction is a mess in terms of provision for cycling, but, for now at least, we’ll focus on the route in question:
With the current BusConnects draft design, if a person is cycling from Rathfarnham Road onto the Terenure Road East (red line and arrow), they will conflict with buses heading straight on and also buses making the same turn into Terenure Road East where cyclists and buses will be heading for the same narrow lane:
At Terenure Road East the main issue (beside the lack of space for cycling) is that when somebody is cycling straight to Terenure Road West. With the use of the bus priority traffic light symbol it looks like the bus lane gets a green light when the lane beside it has a red light.
If this is the case, where do people cycling straight on wait? Or can they cycle straight on without conflicting with any other green lights for different movements?
Continuing along Terenure Road East, the current cycle lanes are also removed. Just past the village / Aldi, between around 1-3 meters are CPOed off gardens to allow for bus lanes in both directions:
To be continued…