COMMENT & ANALYSIS: If I was a betting person I could make money on where I or some other unfortunate person on a bicycle will sooner or later be hit, just a short distance from my house.
Between where I live and the town centre here in Ballina in Co Mayo the cycle lanes are below standard in width and should be segregated given the volume of traffic and the large percentage of heavy trucks.
For a secondary road out of town it has a high volume of large trucks — a mix mainly of those from the town’s Coca-Cola factory, from a number of quarries and from oil depots. The point isn’t about drivers — it’s unfair to all to mix trucks and bicycles.
With a few exceptions, the drivers in the town — from truck drivers to car drivers — seem to be better on average around cyclists compared to motorists in Dublin.
But this spot is different — drivers have a responsibility to take care, but this is a critical design issue that’s long over due to be fixed.
The problem is where the Killala Road in Ballina narrows from having two general lanes and a turning lane in the centre to just two general lanes, with (narrow) cycle lanes throughout.
Below the spot is pictured, taken from the inside edge of the cycle lane looking towards the narrowing point — it’s made more complicated with a junction to a small housing estate on the left.
The markings on the cycle lane on the approach are almost fully worn away, but the red surface at the entrance to the estate should be a clue to motorists… however, way too many of them drive in the middle of it.
The below images are from a few metres back the road to show how much the lines are gone:
Google Street View has a view of the same:
This is a known problem with cycle route design — the National Cycle Manual covers it under horizontal transitions.While the example solution in the Cycle Manual isn’t exactly the same context, it’s fairly close.
The solution is to have kerb / traffic island protection of the cycle lane at the transition point:
Because of the junction with the housing estate, the protected transition would have to happen in advance of where it normally would. In other words, making the road narrower before it current narrows.
It would require some of the central turning lane — the reality here is that the whole road needs a redesign to reflect the housing which the council has approved on it.
The former town council was bad enough allowing development of housing estates along a main road when there’s ample space closer to the town centre. Mayo County Council went one further and allowed two housing estates and clusters of one-off housing just outside the town in the 80km/h limit.
A zebra crossing and traffic calming should also be provide close to this problem point in the cycle lane. There’s a 2km gap between the last formal crossing nearer to town and the housing estates in the 80km zone.
Some people might ask: Why are you writing about this here and not working with the council?
Writing to the council alone seems to do very little. Safety-critical issues like sunken drains in cycle lanes or fixing where a contractor made a narrow cycle lane even narrower takes ages to get fixed.
I was last week told that a council engineer claimed that the section of this road which is 80km/h has no safety issue. There’s two housing estates one on each side of the road, a school on one side, no footpath to one of the estate, no road crossing and children darting across an 80km/h road. How can anybody see this as safe?
We need to start to talk about these things in public.