Why we urgently need better cycling route design even if most cycling projects are stalled

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: Based on covering the same design flaws over and over again, IrishCycle.com launched the CyclingForAll.ie campaign to try to improve standard in cycling design — this article covers another reason why we urgently need improved standards.

As more housing and roads are planned and built, the more CyclingForAll.ie is key. Improved standards is not something that can wait until after cycling gets more funding.

People involved with cycling (including the editor of this website) too often think about cycling projects, but improved standards for — and an improved way of thinking about — cycling infrastructure needs also to apply to housing, schools, universities, around large road projects, with the likes of the planned MetroLink in Dublin and many other types of projects both publicly and privately developed.

Today, the Limerick Cycle Design twitter account used Mungret Gate — a housing developed 5km from Limerick City Centre — as a solid example of common problematic designs which are still being implemented. The development is by the Homeland Group but it should be stressed that these are still common issues and Limerick City and County Council should be picking up on this issues..

The developer boosts: “Mungret Gate is ideally located just 5km from Limerick City Centre. Set in a well-established and well-serviced area, the homes at Mungret Gate benefit from peaceful countryside surroundings with plenty of activities nearby including a playground, stunning scenery and 2km of walk and cycle paths.”

The reality of the cycle paths is stunning for all the wrong reasons as Limerick Cycle Design explains:

It gets worse…

A basic of segregation for cycling in the Netherlands is to segregate at tricky points first (ie junctions and bus stops etc), but in Ireland we do it the other way around:

Users of minor side roads and private entrances should be yield footpaths and cycle paths, and design should reenforce this. But again the opposite is happening:

In the original design there was no pedestrian crossings to cross the main road at the entrance to this housing development but somebody — maybe the designers, audit team or the council — decided that was a bit too car-centric.

But the crossings installed are shared Toucan crossings — these mix walking and cycling and, for that reason, are disliked by both cycling advocates and disability groups. Usually the design isn’t very usable by people on bike:

The development very close to a primary school but nobody thought of joining the cycling infrastructure up:

And the final tweet from Limerick Cycle Design has a key message: “So, if you’re interested in better transport and planning in Limerick, consider voting for someone who you think is genuinely interested in same. #LocalElections2019”.

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You can check which councillors and candidates are signed up to CyclingForAll.ie on this spreadsheet and send councillors and candidates not signed up to do so via http://cyclingforall.ie/cllrs/

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. Mike McKillen May 7, 2019 at 8:03 pm

    One of the big issues for me is that national design guidance (for what it’s worth) is ignored, or varied at will, with no consequences for the specifier, designer, contractor or road safety auditor.
    Unless the designers (generally private road engineering consultancies) have been abroad to undertake a post-graduate qualification in infrastructure design for cycling it will be of hit-and-miss quality. Irish universities do not offer such courses as far as I know.
    The ultimate funder of most of the cycle path, track or lane infrastructure is the Department of Transport. It does not have the capacity to audit the projects of road authorities to ensure design and construction compliance.
    This was foreseen in the National Cycling Policy Framework of 2009.

  2. Citizen Wolf May 9, 2019 at 1:30 am

    The government have said that €3 billion spent on rural broadband will have benefits beyond what the costs suggest.

    Maybe….. I haven’t seen any concrete figures on that beyond official spin. But maybe.

    However, it HAS been proven that investment in safe segregated cycle infrastructure does indeed result in a net benefit to society, well beyond the initial costs. So how come we aren’t seeing €3 billion being invested in safe segregated cycle infrastructure ! How come we aren’t seeing a governmental push to promote an all-Ireland cycle-network that would join all the towns and villages and give some freedom back to rural dwellers who are increasingly becoming trapped by car-culture.

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