COMMENT & ANALYSIS: Recently we looked at the overall approach of the Liffey Cycle Route and how the greening the quays is a better idea. In this series of articles we explore some of the issues around the recent plans released by the National Transport Authority and Dublin City Council — everything from minor to fundamental flaws..
This project is coming up on 8 years of pre-planning and, after a very delayed 18 month review process, these drawings are surprisingly poor.
NOTE: Best to read part 1 first.
The below is the overview of the first section we will look at in this article. The north quays is shown towards the upper half of the image and we are working from left to right.
At the end of the last article we covered the switcher over from the building side to the quayside. As said in that article: I know some people don’t like the idea, but switch over of the cycle track to the quayside is a good idea to avoid the very busy bus stops ahead on the central quays.
Here’s an overview of the first section just east of the Four Courts:
Note the amount of blue used to show bus lanes: You start to see that bus priority has become a large part of the design — this isn’t a bad thing but portraying or branding the route as simply a cycle route is getting to the point of it being misleading.
Also note that the segregation used is the Copenhagen-style light segregation which was used in Blackrock in Dublin while some motorists still park or drop off on.
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This isn’t what most people think of segregation but the National Transport Authority for various reasons has come to favour Danish rather than Dutch designs. This is unfortunate as the Danish light segregation are used mostly on wider roads with less curves and motorists weaving and a higher percentage of streets where their cycle tracks are protected by car parking.
In an Irish context, light segregation can become almost meaningless:
End result is motor traffic doesn’t even know it’s there. This evening I observed multiple cars mount and dismount the cycle track as they drove down Wickham St. Unless some additional measures are installed (Orcas or wands), this cycle lane will be completely useless. pic.twitter.com/aPiJ4ajGfO
— Limerick Cycle Design (@LkCycleDesign) June 3, 2019
It’s just like it is not there:
Drivers mounting and dismounting ‘raised’ cycle track on Wickham St as if it wasn’t there. Nothing a strip of magic paint won’t resolve I suppose. pic.twitter.com/bw33alLQRb
— Limerick Cycle Design (@LkCycleDesign) June 3, 2019
The National Transport Authority’s Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network Plan has the following to say about widths of cycle routes:
And below is an extract from the Dutch Design Manual for Bicycle Traffic (Note: The English version is sold by CROW at a hefty €135 but worth it for any group or company dealing with cycle route design — you can buy it here).
In 2016 the number of cyclists at peak times on Ellis Quay was at 423 per hour (below table compares it to the number of cars and the increase over years).
The above figures is with people cycling in the current poor conditions of narrow cycle lanes and shared bus lanes — as the Grand Canal Route has proven, if you build half decent segregation in Dublin many more people will cycle the route.
While we do not have peak-time data readily available on Ormond Quay, the 12 hour count data shows that Ormond Quay has higher cycling usage than Ellis Quay. The reasoning for the increase between the quays includes people entering the more central sections of quays from different roads and higher more central DublinBike usage.
It is clear from both Irish and Dutch guidance that a general 2 metre width is insufficient given all the variables of the Liffey Cycle Route (Namely: The amount of routes and greenway which join into the quays, passengers using Heuston Station and the amount of large workplaces and other trip attractors along the quays). The target width should be at least 2.5 metres.
In the below cross section you could — for example — easily squeeze 0.2m from the general traffic lane and 0.4m from the footpath (currently parking and a footpath).
The below image is of the junction of Capel Street and Grattan Bridge (aka Capel Street bridge) which links Capel Street to Parliament Street.
As per the last article, this project is making huge changes to the quays, but the designers have failed to include pedestrian crossings at different points along the quays. Including along the quayside from one section of Ormond Quay to the other.
This is a central section of the quays and widening the footpaths at bus stops along is not good enough alone
The footpath at the top right corner of the junction is currently too narrow and the plan is to direct buses towards the coroner at an awkward angle:
Like much of the footpaths along the quays, it’s not a nice place to be now waiting to cross or walking by:
Although, on the southside, at the Parliament Street junction, there is a welcomed additional crossing.
At the same time, the more crossings added and the extra time given to people on foot and cycling means less time for cars. And as car capacity is cut further and further it begs the question: Why is some much valuable street space in the core city centre being left to cars when they are becoming less and less efficient? Why is Dublin wasting space, cutting into the space of people walking, cutting down trees and spending an €7.6 million extra just to keep cars on the quays?
Back to the north quays…
From a bus priority perspective, the layout will also likely encourage motorists to make a dash towards the turning lane into Jervis Street. The green arrow here might not be the exact move they will make but it’s probably as likely as motorists crossing the bus lane in the area outlined here:
Again the cycle track is just light segregation with no horizontal buffer:
Below is the junction of the quays and Swifts Row / Jervis Street (Swifts Row is the little known named of a short section of the street before it becomes Jervis Street). This junction is just west of the Millennium Bridge and the Italian quarter.
Note that, at times, this is a busy turn but there’s no pedestrian crossing or anything to provide pedestrian priority when walking along the footpath along the building side.
Also note that the cycle track lowers to be a cycle lane west of the Swifts Row / Jervis Street junction and only rises to light segregation after the Millennium Bridge. At the least there should be a pedestrian island between the general traffic lane and the cycle track:
Here’s an example of this in Frederiksberg in Copenhagen:
It would not take a whole lot on Swifts Row and Jervis Street to provide for a two-way cycle route as part of a north-south route around the western edge of the near-impenetrable Henry Street shopping area.
This could be part of a “quick fix” in building an attractive city centre network given that most of the north-south routes are far more difficult to provide cycling on — ie, the complexities of Capel Street and O’Connell Street, Marlborough Street taken by Luas, Gardiner Street to be filled with bus lanes and other streets also tied up with BusConnects.
Any half decent Liffey Cycle Route is going to busy with commuters but if it’s going to function for more all-day and weekend use it will depend on being connected to a wider network of safe and attractive routes.
There’s little stopping a two-way cycle path being installed on Jervis Street. Between the Jervis Luas stop and Jervis Street some priory should also be given to marginally widening and decluttering the footpath.
The cycle route up Jervis Street could then link into the contra-flow lane on Ryder’s Row and the top of Capel Street.
This is an overview of the next section of the north quays from the Ha’penny Bridge and Bachelors Walk up to O’Connell Bridge.
Note the volume of trees to be cut down here — anybody who tries to claim it’s because of the cycle route they are only half right… it’s just as much because car access is to be maintained and a high level of bus priority is being looked at.
Just after the Ha’penny Bridge there’s planned to be footpath widening, a continuation of the double bus lane installed in recent years, and single general traffic lane and a cycle track on the quayside.
There is no quayside footpath here and, in fairness to the council the current is little used with most people opting for the existing boardwalk.
But there will be a substantial loss of trees because the council wants to fit everything else in. What’s been said here is maintaining fig-leaf car access more important to the city than trees.
I stress fig-leaf car access because what’s planned is an expensive way to pretend car access is being maintained while more and more space and junction time will be taken away from cars with this project and other planned projects.
The city just won’t bit the bullet and remove cars from the central quays when it’s clearer and clearer now that the effects are overwhelming positive for the entire area.
On Bachelor’s Walk despite the removal of trees the cycle track is till a sub-standard width of under 2 metres:
The existing bus gate concept on Bachelors Walk with few changes:
Note again just how much space is being given over to cars and buses
It is basically the existing layout.
The above image shows the bus lane colour as continuing to the junction but the road markings (which are the important thing) shows the bus lane ending just where it does now — when there’s a few cars and vans turning this space can full up quickly.
An overview of the O’Connell Bridge area:
This is messy and confusing looking at a junction design with bollards used approaching the junction, box turns in unusual locations (ie directing people into a traffic lane rather than the cycle lane on O’Connell Street) and questions remain over the amount of space available for people waiting to turn and if they will get in the way of those going straight on — with this design it’s hard to know:
If it was not clear before, at the Rosie Hackett Bridge we see just how much this project has become about buses and maintaining car access — the trees get the brunt of this:
On approach to the Rosie Hackett Bridge, here’s a close-up of the layout:
And east of the Rosie Hackett Bridge:
At the Butt Bridge again from a bus priority perspective, it’s not clear if the designers have ever used Eden Quay and how much traffic turns left below.
There’s no direct access here to Tara station, or the existing or planned large offices on Tara Street across Butt Bridge:
Custom House Quay has one of the only notable section of cycle tracks which has an above standard width:
At the Talbot Bridge and the junction at the IFSC there is a strange layout — it unclear where the NTA expects people traveling in different directions to wait especially at the bottom left of the junction:
The new layout proposed at the south side of the bridge is only stranger — let’s hope the council’s current works at the junction is not implementing this:
It could have done with some cleaning up to integrated it with the two-way cycle path but the buffer circled here is vital to the smooth and safe running and to allow for cycling turning movements:
There’s some very strange movements these layouts would require people to make, for example — the red line and arrow here is what has been in place for year
Given that cycling is not allowed on the Sean O’Casey Bridge, this is the route the suggested layout would have people use. It includes crossing the main flow of traffic twice for no apparent reason when two-way cycling could be provided on the right hand side of the bridge:
To be continued…