How to quickly build a Dublin City Centre Cycling Access Loop (part 1)

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: This is the second in a series of articles looking at potential cycle routes to trial following the question: Should Dublin trial a protected cycle network even if it means facing down opposition?

Is this a project for Dublin City Council Beta? Is it too big for Beta? I don’t know, but there’s good reasons for it to be trialed rather than built in a process that takes years:

  • Trialing it is quicker and action is needed urgently on improving safe cycling access in the city centre.
  • It’s cheaper as it can largely be done with measures such as ‘Orcas’ etc (see images at the start of this article), bollards etc — the main cost of physical elements in this suggestion is probably traffic lights.
  • It can be adjusted depending on the results, fairly quickly where needed.

Previously this website looked at the Liffey route along the quays and trialing a route along the river. Now we’re looking at north-south routes in and around the core city centre. What we are calling the “Dublin City Centre Cycling Access Loop” would have a key connection to the quays route at O’Connell Bridge.

As an aside, for clarity: The #GreenTheQuays idea is not just a suggestion to trial a quick-build temporary two-way cycle path on the north quays, but to do it in a way to retain all the existing trees and maximise space for new trees and other greenery if the trial is made permanent.

Large parts of the below suggestions overlap with the planned Clonskeagh cycle route upgrade (Route 11 in the Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network Plan). But indications are that this route could be years off within the normal process.

Starting at O’Connell Bridge: This is what the southbound side of the bridge looks like now:

The southbound side is around 15 metres wide or nearly 4 metres per lane (some of the lanes seem wider than others). Compare that to the northbound bus-lane right hand turning lane which is 3 metres wide:

Note: In the suggestions on this article we will be looking at from kerb-to-kerb road space, so, we will generally not show footpaths.

This is around about the current width:

The aim on two-way cycle paths within the series is to have them 4 metres — as noted in the last article, this might seem large in an Irish context but without that being the aimed goal of a width, the route would quickly become too busy to function safely and effectively.

Note: A bus lane is not currently here, but it is effectually a bus lane here and onto D’Olier Street.

The route would travel onto the west side of D’Olier Street then College Street and to College Green via Westmoreland Street — it avoids bus stops, turns over the cycle path etc.

If the traffic lights are green for buses and cars from O’Connell Bridge to Westmoreland Street, the cycle route would also have green lights the whole way as there’s no right hand turns along this section.

The roadway on D’Olier Street is 15 metres wide at first before becoming around 18-17 metres where there’s car parking to around 13 metres at the end where there’s a crossing.

For the trial one lane would go. You could retain the car parking / loading lane as part of the buffer between the cycle path and the three retained general lanes. Given the restrains at both ends there would be no point trying to fit in another traffic movement lane and

The short 13 metre section is smaller, but doable:

This is the start of College Street — basically the right hand lane here would be segregated and made into a two-way cycle path:

On College Street, there would be a link into Pearse Street (in orange), but for now we’ll look at the route in the direction of College Green:

The green arrow is the direction buses come out of Pearse Street and the red arrow could be the two-way cycle path crossing point. This is the wider point on the right hand (most northern lane) lane on College Street, which allows for area to wait when heading towards Pearse Street. However, the wait will only be the same as now and the cycle path crossing can flow at the same time as buses move out of Pearse Street:

A notable amount of College Street will be narrow enough and can’t be transferred over largely due to wide buffer Luas has between trams and buses — note the difference between the tram tracks and the bus vs the tram tracks and the footpath:

At a squeeze something like this could fit in the narrow width without moving the kerbs around:

The link from the suggested cycle path on College Street (green) to the existing one on College Green (blue) could be done in different ways which have plus and minus for the flow of both buses and bicycles and the directness.

The two-way cycle path on College Green would be extended westwards to Foster Place where there is more space for an improved crossing point over the other side of College Green to continue onto Dame Street westbound or to continue along the Dublin City Centre Cycling Access Loop up Church Lane.

Access traffic coming out of Church Lane would only be allowed to turn left and the carriageway space between the central islands would be for bicycles only.

If the College Green Plaza plan reemerges much the same as before, the cycle path would instead take the purple route:

Church Street, (location circled below) is part of primary cycle route 11 on the Great Dublin Area Cycle Network — it goes onto St Andrew Street and South William Street:

Although the mini-street cleaner makes the lanes look wide, Church Lane is narrow for two-lane — it used to be quite claustrophobic when buses used to flow out of Suffolk Street into here and there were buses and large vans on the street taking up both lanes along the street.

It narrows at the oppsite end than the one shown, but the carriageway could at least fit a contra-flow cycle track and a left turning lane for access traffic to exit (from St Andrew’s Street).

A section of St Andrew’s Street already has contra-flow, while this section needs it — some kerb changes is likely needed on this one but providing contra-flow here is long-needed.

Loading arrangements would also be reviewed here to see how best loading, currently be done below, can be done on other side streets.

Onto South William Street — recently protesters staged a trial of a car-free street, but before that businesses had run a campaign to do the same around 2011-2012, and, in 2015, we wrote in more detail how you could do it — is it time for a car-free South William Street in Dublin?

Here’s an example of how it could look for the most part of South William Street — a good deal of space for tables and chairs or planters etc:

Access exiting the Brown Thomas Car Park could still be maintained with something like this:

At the southern end of South William Street, the route would become partly shared with motor traffic (lighter green section) — the southbound direction would be shared for the short section, with a contra-flow cycle path in the northbound direction.

Here, compared to the other end of South William Street, there’s more space to seprate the contra-flow. The red shape shows where some kerb changes would be needed, although this would be small enough.

The route would become a two-way cycle path again at Johnson Place / Mercer Street Lower — two-way cycle path on eastern lane at least as far as York Street.

For motorists, access can be maintained (yellow lines and arrows), although clearly with less space.

From here the Great Dublin Area Cycle Network Plan outlines how route 11 goes into York Street (circled in yellow) towards St Stephen Green:

But the building of the street layout from the Royal College of Surgeons Masterplan on York Street makes having a two-way cycle route or even any cycle route with a high level of service difficult. The designs seem to have no regard for the GDA Cycle Network.

So, as part of this trial process it might be too hard to adjust York Street — so, my alternative suggestion here is to have one-way (or possibly two-way) route around it via Cuffe Street.

This would link into a two-way cycle path around St Stephen’s Green on the park side of the roadway the whole way around — more on this in a future article.

Route 11 continues down Harcourt Street — which is tight for space, but this is a priority cycle route, so, measure can be put in place to allow access while reducing through access.

One of the key measures to enable this is to convert the current one-way general access from Harcourt Street to St Stephen’s Green into a two-way bicycle only path: the green chunks circled here being protected bicycle only space:

Harcourt Street could be split into three a few different types

  • 100m of shared with local access northbound, segregated contra-flow
  • 120m of shared with local access northbound, painted contra-flow southbound
  • 154m of two-way cycle path (car parking removed)
  • 121m of two-way cycle path (southbound reduced to one lane)

This is how the contra-flow segregated would fit:

It’s important to note that these measurements exclude the Luas buffer space — this image shows the worse pinch point and there seems to be little alternative to this, but it is just for 120 metres — this area could be marked with “motorists are guests signs”.

Most of the rest is around 6-8 metres, and mostly around 7 metres. That gives us something like this:

OR keeping the cycle path beside the Luas tracks:

There’s then a few options in linking the route into the Charlemont St where route 11 continues. But going further would be outside the City Centre Cycling Access Loop.

Discussion on the City Centre Cycling Access Loop be continued in a later article, starting back at St Stephen’s Green.

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. Putting the cycle lane on the right hand side of D’Olier Street makes the left hand turn on to Townsend Street very difficult. My commute in to work comes down Bachelor’s Walk, then over O’Connell Bridge, then left on to Townsend Street and down past Lombard Street.

    I had started to use Rosie Hackett when the Luas works were underway, but stopped doing that as the light phasing at the bridge is terrible, plus the number of buses sticking their backside out at Rosie Hackett can make accessing the cycle lane there tricky.

    What’s a good alternative – do I continue on down Custom House Quay and try make a right over Matt Talbot Bridge? From what I’ve seen there, light phasing isn’t the best (I think I’d always have to wait at least half a full light cycle), but I may need to give it a go some day just to see.

  2. Hi Leo — depending on where you are going you’d have three options:

    1. Use the cycle route above and stop at the mouth of Fleet St to turn to Townsend St when Fleet St traffic gets a green light.

    2. Stay on the quays, ideally the quays route would be in place: https://irishcycle.com/2019/08/06/can-dublin-greenthequays-if-it-means-disrupting-car-traffic/ — down the quays Matt Talbot Bridge, City Quay etc.

    3. Use the cycle route above and stop at College Street to turn into Pearse Street — in part two of this article I’ll be suggesting a two-way cycle path on Pearse Street.

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