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 Rathgar, here are links to the other articles:
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 around Terenure inbound towards the city centre. This article starts as Terenure Road East goes from Terenure to Rathgar.
The map we start at is number 7 on the above overview:
As covered in the last article, the plan for the first half of Terenure Road East is typified by mixing bicycles with buses and taxis in bus lanes. The road then gets wider as it is currently and it is planned to be widened a bit more.
The wider section will allow for (non-continuous) segregation of cycling and buses but the stop-start nature of it has to be stressed.
It’s nearly exactly 600 metres between the junctions of the two villages from the Rathfarnham Road junction and the junction with Orwell Road / Rathgar Ave. Of this 600 metres, at least 350 metres includes shared bus lanes and outbound the cycle lane is also interrupted at the Orwell Road / Rathgar Ave junction.
This is an improvement over the current situation, but again it needs to be noted that it runs into shared bus lanes, in one case in both directions….
Where Terenure Road East meets the Orwell Road and Rathgar Avenue junction segregation disappears again heading westbound from the junction towards Terenure.
This is one of many cases where BusConnects wrongly goes against the transport hierarchy and puts a small bit of extra bus priority over not just cycling priority but cycling safety too.
Given the bus priority measures planned here, probably the most realistic solution to help people cycling turn in different directions is what’s called a “box turn” (or “staying left to turn right”).
Below is an example from the National Cycle Manual of a box turn. But, to help make these safe, the people using the box turn should have their own traffic lights and at least a few second head start on the traffic coming out of the side road:
This is an example of a box turn (although on a larger road) in Berlin — note the traffic light facing the formalised box turn markings:
One of the main problems with this design is merging people cycling straight ahead and buses traveling in the same direction on the junction. Is clearly causes conflict and should not be allowed — with the bus only signal, removing a short section of bus lane would have positive safety and cycling attractiveness benefits while also not have an unduly large impact on bus time.
This is the current junction approach from the Rathmines / city centre direction:
And here is the planned layout:
There’s a lot which could be fixed.
First the outbound cycle track is nearly all just a broken-line painted cycle lane. The cycle tracks should be protected through out and especially protected at the points circled in green and yellow where buses or taxis are likely to cross the lines.
The advance stop box, circled in light blue, seems unnecessary as right turns are banned and would be more unnecessary if there was a cycle path rather than bus lane on the other side of the junction. At the green circled point it would be also worth look to see if a protected right-hand turning point could be inserted to allow people to stop and wait to make the turn into Highfield Road:
Next is map 8 (the last image is part of it, but shown above to give a better idea of the junction approach):
Then we move onto the general section of the Rathar Road. Which currently looks like this:
…and this is what’s planned: This improves bus priority and cycling safety and attractiveness. It’s achievable by CPOing a small bit of land from gardens and other non-residential lands:
Next is map 9:
One of the trickier parts of this section is at the junction where there’s a pinchpoint. It is good that BusConnects keep the cycle lanes rather than trying to merge cycling and buses. But the bits highlighted in yellow below need to be kerb-protected.
The next map, map 10, is much the same — this is a fairly straight and nondescript section of road. The main issue of note is, again, the lack of bus stop bypasses.
As mentioned in previous articles, the number of bus stop is excessive compared to international recommendations. This point is not just about cycling but it effects the speed of buses and was supposed to be tackled as part of BusConnects.
These are images we will be re-using on the next article on Rathmines — the design of bus drivers having to pull across a cycle track to stop at a footpath is unsafe. It is unfair to people cycling and also unfair to bus drivers and passengers.
On the Rathmines Road etc this issue is already an acute problem at rush hour when there’s often a big line of cyclists. When cycle routes are improved it will mean more people cycling and then this issue will get worse along this route and it will also spread as an issue to other route. More people cycling is great, but designing cycling-bus conflicts and bus delay into BusConnects is shortsighted.
To be continued…