BusConnects and Rathmines: The detour option that should never have been

COMMENT & ANALYSIS | LONG READ: This is the fourth article 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 the original option for Rathmines which removes cycle lanes off the main street. This is now called option b but we are covering it first to show why it should be off the table altogether.

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:

Again, there’s two option for the Rathmines Road and the first we’ll look at is the cycling detour. This option would sterilise all cycling infrastructure from the Rathmines Road

People cycling would not be “banned” from using the bus lanes, but bus lanes should not really be viewed as cycling infrastructure. Cycling in bus lanes is not suitable for cycling for all ages and abilities. As the last article covers, the Rathgar Road will be getting a bit of an upgrade (it can be made better easily).

That upgrade would be feeding into a back lane detour in Rathmines — unless the goal is just to get people cycling out of the way of buses? This makes little sense, the Rathgar Rathmines local electoral area has 4,533 bus commuters and 6,012 bicycle commuters — 13.5% vs 18% modal share.

It would seem that some senior people in the National Transport Authority have not learned many lessons from the Quality Bus Corridor Office’s attempts decades ago to do the same thing. After much of the QBN Office’s work, many people cycling just stayed in the bus lane rather than using cycle lanes that were often more dangerous and lacked any priority.

This is a typical view and cross-section of the Rathmines Road sterilised of cycling infrastructure — it not just treats commuter cyclists poorly but also does not provide safe cycling access to locations along the village centre and it’s poorer for pedestrians to have buses right beside them for all of the road:

This is our mapped overview of the cycling detour (dark orange) compared to the Rathmines Road (blue):

One of the sections with the most twists and turns is below where the detour skirts around and includes army barracks lands and a narrow green buffer between the barracks and houses. It then cross Grove Road and the Grand Canal in yet more twists and turns:

PS: Anybody who saying we should not be showing images of Defence Forces lands, please contact Google Maps first. 

And here’s the draft drawings from the NTA…

The last article covered around Rathgar, here we continue from that start at the southern approach to Rathmines. The first bit of the route has quite a few twists and turns:

Followed by more twists and turns with blind coroners shared with car access — it’s limited car access but also one or two narrow and blind corners:

It goes aross the front of a school’s front yard and around a playing pitch and into the Defence Forces barracks:


Of note is that a number of bends on the two-way cycle path are for some reason drawn at 90 degrees even where there is space:

Here’s the end of the barracks and the routing around and over the canal — with a narrow shared bridge shown:

There is then a Quietway around Portobello — this is worth looking at regardless of what happens to the Rathmines route.

But it need to be developed more and probably better if there was a whole-are approach to reduce rat running which locals have complained about for years.

In the image below, there’s not enough done at smaller or larger junctions — the first one to the left is subject to rat running from different directions and the junction in centre which is the South Circular Road would be better one-way except cyclists at both sides:

There’s then some promising looking filtering of motor traffic but that’s followed by an ending point which just abandons people at a large junction (only partly visible here on the right):

Abandoning people here without dealing with the junction design doesn’t make for a good Quietway:

Some of what’s shown above isn’t the worse thing in the world, but combined the twists and turns are not suitable to serve some of the areas with the highest cycling modal share in Dublin — not as a route into the city centre or around the villages. If the NTA is honest about following its remit to grow cycling usage, it should be fostering it here first.

To be 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. Patrick Conroy March 18, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    If you build routes that go out of the way for no good reason, you may as well not build them at all. They won’t be used and you’ll just have people using the less than ideal bus routes, with bus drivers who’ll have the delusional idea that you’re not allowed to use said bus lane.

  2. Worth noting that in their documentation for their option B route they propose the main high capacity and high speed cycle lanes to go through “the Wynnefield Park” at Charleville Road – except there is no ‘Wynnefield Park’ – only ‘Wynnefield Park Apartments”, a gated apartment complex with over 80 residents. Running the main busy Rathmines cycle route through here is pretty absurd.
    And further on they intend it to cross Leinster Road and proceed down Louis Lane – a tiny narrow laneway, full of blind corners, and a busy car drop off point for a junior school. You have to wonder how much thought really went into these plans and serious they really are about facilitating cycling as a transport alternative- rathmines is not a sleepy ‘quietway’ route they can move off to blind cornered side-alleys.

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