Part 2: How to quickly build a Dublin City Centre Cycling Access Loop

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: This is the third article in a series 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.

You might also want to read trialing a route along the River Liffey and Part 1 of How to quickly build a Dublin City Centre Cycling Access Loop.

Those articles covered a two-way cycle path on the north quays from the Phoenix Park to the IFSC where the route would join the existing two-way cycle path on the southside, and the second article included a route from O’Connell Bridge to at least the Harcourt Luas Stop via Westmoreland Street, College Green, and South William Street.

In the last article we ended on Harcourt Street, but we purposely skipped the details of St Stephen’s Green as this article will look at that — namely putting in a two-way cycle path around the park-side of the green. The building-side cycle lanes would also be retained and improved.

A mix of reasons lends itself to have two-way around the green:

  • It adds greatly to permeability (allows for turns etc not currently allowed).
  • It aids in building a segregated network.
  • It’s functional (while retaining existing building-side lanes)
  • There’s generally space to be allocated for such without kerb changes.
  • There’s no side streets.

There’s some downsides (getting back to the building side etc, but these are outweigh by the benefits above and by the fact this suggestion is also includes retaining and improving the building side cycle lanes.

We start at the south-west junction of St Stephen’s Green (which I’ll mainly refer to as just ‘the green’). Here, the orange space below is the suggested space to be transferred to cycling while red represents a turning lane closure:

Street View (link) shows the inside car here has diplomatic plates but this driving is common — both motorists are in the wrong place on a red light, but the the diplomatic car is also seems to be using the turning lane and cycle lane to skip the traffic. This is common enough here, far from confined to cars with diplomatic plates.

For clarity, this space marked in orange both should not be currently used for cars and is ripe to be given over to use by bicycles only with segregation keeping motorists off it:

In fact nearly all of St Stephen’s Green South (image directly below) is already down to one legal lane for motorist in the eastbound direction — so, little would be changing here except for adding protection for people cycling… we’ll get back to that, first we’ll look at St Stephen’s Green West in the next image…

The left turn from Cuffe Street to St Stephen’s Green West has a huge amount of space that’s not really needed:

Something like this might exclude long HGVs, but there’s good grounds for not letting such down this route in any case or some of the suggested curve here could be opened up so HGVs could make the turn from the outside lane:

Below is an outline of how this junction could have a Dutch-like protected junction with three two-way cycle paths meeting — St Stephen’s Green West, St Stephen’s Green South and Harcourt Street:

  • Green lines: White painted lines with Orcas and Orcas with bollards inserts.
  • While lines: White painted lines.
  • Red boxes: Traffic lights (possable temporary building-site-like).
  • Purple areas: Possible locations for harder segregation.

Continuing north along the western side of the green, the first image is the current view and the second image is what’s possible around this point — only kerb-to-kerb shown in the cross-section image of what’s possable… this first image, second image format is one we’ll continue in this article as noted:

A little further up it’s a bit narrower:

The route would then use the short two way cycle path between York Street and Grafton Street.

This would be on the narrow side for extra usage but usable over short distance — it can be widened at a later date.

This image is north of the two-way cycle path and the (unnamed?) laneway and then an option of what’s possable — the cross-section says parking lane but it would be a hotel bay / loading / 1-2 disabled parking to replace the ones needing to be removed slightly further north here.

There were plans for a plaza here at the junction with Grafton Street and removing cars, and it would be possable to trial such as part of this overall trial. But even on a phased roll out bases, there’s a lot packed into this already, so, it depends on how much the public or councillors etc want to push this.

If cars are not being removed, then some kerb changes would need to be made to allow motorists and a continuation o the cycle route — although the space needed is around the space which was originally suggested for a contra-flow lane suggested as part of the Luas Cross City works but did not make it into the final design:

Onto the northwestern section of the green — the fairly simple solution here is to make the park-side lane to be the cycle path… in the longer term changes should be made to transfer most of the massive buffer space along the tram line to the busy footpath on the left here:

At the end of this section the main route of the tram tracks then turn into Dawson Street — everything along is geared towards the tram tracks and providing for bus and private motorist movements. As we’re mainly dealing with what happens between kerbs, the only option at this location seems to be reduced the number of lane.

This might be one of the sticking points of the overall suggestion but is the only option given that the NTA and TII (also the council?) combined had little regard for providing segregated space for cycling in their placement of the Lady Grattan Drinking Fountain:

It’s quite wide after that:

This is outside the Shelburne Hotel:

This suggestion is based on the current size and not moving the centre line much as it lines up with the traffic island ahead. For buses, the suggested bus lane on the east side of the green (as suggested further below) should make up for this going down to one lane:

Here’s the current view of St Stephen’s Green East:

The cycle path here includes space for a tuning lane:

For now, we’ll go back to Harcourt Street and look at going the oppsite direction around the green. This is St Stephen’s Green South:

And what’s possable around here — including upgrading the building-side cycle lane. The building side cycle lane is needed to be retain to keep more direct routes, including, for example, from Leeson Street (N11 route) to the Camden Street area and beyond to Dublin 8 etc.

Leeson Street to the east and Kevin Street to the west go down to one lane in each direction, so, it’s not a huge leap or practical difference to also put this down to one lane.

Here’s what possable without removing the DublinBikes station:

Further on there’s also even more space along here for extra bicycle parking:

On the South-East corner of the green this kind of protected cycle route layout should be able to fit without kerb changes.

Key:

  • Blue: Two-way cycle path.
  • Green: Route from building side to two-way cycle path
  • Green box: Protected waiting area
  • Red: Routes from two-way cycle path to building sides

This layout would be for a trial — if the route was kept after the trial, the whole junction could then be reviewed.

And we are back onto St Stephen’s Green East and now the junction of Hume Street:

This shows the space allocation and the tree images show the different traffic light phases:

  • Blue: Cycle paths.
  • Light blue: Bus lanes
  • Black dots: Pedestrian crossings
  • Purple Private motor traffic.

 

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.

5 Comments

  1. I would be bolder and say the west side should be closed completely for motorised traffic and be pedestrianised with a two way cycle lane. There is really no logical need for cars to drive there. All roads can easily be accessed from the other side. It would even be possible on the east as well but then with a two way bus lane added.

  2. This is a really interesting proposition. Are you suggesting there is no real reduction to the existing space for buses, general traffic or parking? Did I get that right, you’re making use of redundant space? If so, it would be terrific.

    Even if there was a minor impact on parking, it would be worthwhile. It would be a tangible statement by the city, establishing a safe environment with clear space for different road users: pedestrians, cycles, bus, tram, and car.

  3. @Sam that would likely required a substantial reworking of York Street to make it two-way for access or for the flow of it to be reversed and access traffic to then use the unnamed laneway that is just north of it. There’s a lot of big asks in this already, so, the furthest I’d suggest is just removing motorists from the Grafton Street corner.

    @Hugh that would apply to the south end of the green, not quite the rest, I might have to review the article but I have noted lane reductions and making traffic lanes into bus lanes. Removal of car parking on the east side is likely needed to do this right and a reduction is needed on the west side.

  4. @Cian the only traffic needed in that part of York Street is for the car park which can already both be accessed and exited from Glover’s Alley (the unnamed road on Google Maps). As far as I know, there are no other private garages between Mercer Street Lower and St Stephen’s Green, including Proud’s Lane. And even if there were a few, access could be granted by permit.
    I would also close Glover’s Alley between St Stephen’s Green and the loading docks of St Stephen’s Green Shopping centre.

  5. Or whatabout having a single segregated bike lane running anti-clockwise / with traffic between the pavement curb and parking around the green itself and another going clockwise (again with traffic) on the other side of the street right outside the buildings? Pretty much having parking protected bike lanes without the need to re-engineer everything just by swapping some lanes.

    The main problem I have with counterflow bike lanes somewhere like this is that you have to cross 4 lanes of heavy traffic to use them and again to leave them

    Main thing is hard segregation with curbs and blocks. Orcas and comedy magic wands can go and shite.

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