How BusConnects might change roads around Swords

IMAGE: BusConnects is planning to use versions of this unprotected cycle lane design with narrower cycle lanes (Image by: Changing Cities)

COMMENT & ANALYSIS | LONG READ: This is our first in a series of articles having a detailed look at the BusConnects route from Swords to Dublin City centre.

The route uses the non-motorway road between Swords and the city centre — it starts at the Pinnockhill roundabout between the centre of Swords and the Airside retail and business park, passes Dublin Airport, goes under the M50 into Santry and travels down the Swords Road and Drumcondra Road to Dorset Street.

At Dorset Street there are three branches into the core city centre — (1) Gardner Street to the rear of Custom House, (2) North Frederick Street and Parnell Square East to the top of O’Connell Street, and (3) Parnell Square West.

In this article we look at maps 1 and 2:

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

This junction pictured below replaces the dreadful Pinnock Hill Roundabout, but the junction planned is miles away from the needed standards outlined at CyclingForAll.ie.

Before looking at the detail, it’s easy to look at this junction on map or even be there or look at Street View and think this is a junction where nobody wants or really need to be walking or cycling — it reminds me of the image which I spotted recently shared on twitter showing a cyclist on a tightrope as if that was an indication of real demand for active travel.

As per the illustration below, the roundabout sits between business and retail (red circle) and residential districts (green circle) and the centre and north of Swords (blue circle) — the dual carriageway between these areas acts as a permeability block between parts of the town.

Here’s the detail of the junction — if you don’t want to mix with traffic, to make a right hand turn from the centre or north of Swords turning towards the airport or Dublin City you will get stopped at four traffic lights and have to mix with pedestrians:

Another option for the right turn is to use what cycling campaigners are now calling “murder strips”:

German active transport lobby group Changing Cities recently highlighted the problems with cycle lanes between traffic lanes on an otherwise protected cycle route in Berlin. Just like in Berlin, there is no point in BusConnects providing segregated cycle paths and then not providing segregated connections to and from the route or at junctions along the route.

This is what the National Transport Authority are planned at this location and others with BusConnects — in fact, worse again, because the lane width and marking in this Berlin example is wider that what’s planned with BusConnects:

For those who think Cycling For All is somehow not obtainable or somehow not desirable, or that it’s an exaggeration or something to use children in the example… is this design really much better for adults?

From the Airside side of the junction — which includes a large amount of employment as well as retail. But here there’s no provision for cycling when exiting Airside:

@LkCycleDesign on Twitter offers a quick draft of how Dutch cycle route design could be applied to this junction:

 

Moving away from the junction and towards Dublin City: one side of the road has an island bus stop but the other side doesn’t, even with ample space to provide one:

Around the junction and away from it, there is no horizontal buffer provided. Especially on higher speed roads or roads which induce high speeds, horizontal buffers are key to making cycling not just safe but also attractive.

Below is the horizontal buffers table from cyclingforall.ie/space/ — it is an Irish adaption of UK guidance, which was in-turn influenced by Dutch guidance.

Going by this, there should be at least 0.5 metre of separation and 1 metre is more desirable. In reality, the speeds in this area likely often exceed 60km/h and thus a wider buffer would be even more desirable.

As we move along on the Swords Road we reach the other junction to Airside — this has many of the same problems repeated. This junction is also not attractive to pedestrians, thus, not attractive to bus users.

There’s a mix of shared space, conflicting turns, staggered crossings… its a mess:

At Broroimhe Road side of the junction if you look close at the satellite you’ll see that the current layout of segregated cycle paths need junction improvements. But rather than improving the current design, the segregated cycling infrastructure is just removed.

Part of the existing segregated cycle paths will be turned into another dangerous cycle lane layout which is unsafe for any cyclist.

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.

1 Comment

  1. I think the Swords corridor should be one of the more straightforward of the Bus Connects projects. Other than Santry there is very little that is contentious. Just so annoying that cycling appears to be an afterthought. Should be a bit better for pedestrians too.

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