7 reasons not to support Dublin City’s new proposals for the quays

Yesterday IrishCycle.com briefly covered new Dublin City Council proposals for a so-called “trial” of the Liffey Cycle Route, here we cover 7 reasons not to support the proposals and, instead, trial a continuous route as suggested by the LiffeyCycle.com petition.

Councillors are discussing and likely voting on the issue at their monthly meeting on Monday — if you agree that the council’s proposals are not enough and you want a continuous route to be trialed, then please contact your councillors!

1. It is not a continuous route

The LiffeyCycle.com petition called for on the council to “Trial a cycle path on Dublin’s quays in 2020” in the vain of the Liffey Cycle Route which since 2010 has promised to be a continuous and segregated cycle route.

This new proposal by the council is a blocker to a trial of a continuous route — and the proposals are far from continuous with the council’s own maps showing large sections where there will be no cycle path.

The coloring on these maps are deceptive to look at as they do not show bus stops which will not be segregated — the maps even shows quays which are full of bus stops as the colour green as if any meaningful cycle track can be installed here which will make things safer:

2. No, something is not always better than nothing

Many people are quick to say ‘something is better than nothing’ but that’s not always the case with cycle route design. London sadly found this out the hard way.

There was a similar situation in London a number of years ago, unsafe stop-start segregated cycle paths were installed without dealing with the conflict areas like junctions and bus stops. The result was that cycle routes looked more attractive, but the conflict remained or worsened and people died as a result of poor design. London eventually started to implement more protected designs. It is senseless for Dublin to be making the same mistakes — there’s too much at stake.

The ‘something’ in this case is designed to block a trial of a continuous cycle route along the quays.

3. Maintaining high car access on the quays is unsustainable

IMAGE: A line of cars blocking buses and trams at O’Connell Bridge.

Compromising on cycling safety just to maintain the same number of cars on the quays is pointless — cars are already seriously hampering the operation of the bus network and Luas green line, and there’s more buses and more trams on the way. Something has to give.

Cities all around the world of different sizes — some with fewer public transport options than Dublin — have shown that city centre become better places when you reduce the number of cars. The sky doesn’t fall in.

IMAGE: Capacity per mode along the quays and the Luas Red line before space for cars was reduced as the tram line opened (Image: Dublin City Council).

The opposite is true and cities become more attractive places to live, work and do business in. For the people who need to drive, there would still be ample routes to reach car parks and other locations

Reducing the volume of cars on the quays does not mean banning them — access can still be maintained to businesses and car parks, even if some people will have a less direct route. This is what the city council was proposing with Option 7, so, it is workable from a traffic and engineering point of view — it’s a matter of politics.

4. Conflicts with buses at bus stops

The Dublin City Council report states: “cycle lanes through bus stops would be in-line”. Below show examples of in-line bus stops.

This bus stop design is poor to start with, but the proposed segregation of the cycle route with bollards will mean people cycling will will be pushed into a conflict point. The quays have a high volume of buses and bicycles, so, we cannot stress how much of a bad idea this is:

5. Conflict with left turning traffic

In a report to councillors, council officials claim that its ‘interim protected cycle safety’ “interventions have been proven to be effective and have provided significant safety enhancements for cyclists. The experience gained to date provides a source of the confidence that an interim Liffey Cycle Route with protected cycle lanes would be achievable.”

But Dublin City Council’s first try at a protected junction where motorists are turning left, on Lombard Street, is seen widely as a failure after the council did not listen to public consultation on the route. This has not inspire confidence.

When a city adds segregation to cycle route you need to start to look at elements like junctions or else — as mentioned as happened in London — more people will be hurt or killed.

6. Mixing with buses and taxis

Because the council does not want to upset car park owners and others, the “interim measures” planned will include notable sections where people cycling will be left to mix it up with buses and taxis in bus lanes.

Cycling in bus lanes is where people are often closely passed by bus or taxi drivers who perceive cyclists as doing something wrong even when that something is cycling out to avoid a pot hole or pass out another cyclist.

If this is what amounts to a trial of the route, why didn’t the council do it 5 or more years ago? Maybe because they are only suggesting it to avoid a trial of Option 7 which would offer continuous segregation.

7. Very narrow lanes where demand is already high

1.5 metre wide cycle tracks are below the min standards outlined in the National Cycle Manual — with the new proposals the city council is suggesting lanes which are 1.5 metres and also other sections which are just 1 metre wide.

These are unsafe widths generally and worse still on the quays where there is already high demand. 1 metre widths will excuse many cargo bicycles and other non-standard bicycles, likely including those from An Post and other companies which the city are trying to promote.

8. A possable debasing effect

This is not a trial by any normal meaning — the council’s report to councillors mentions both trial and “interim measures”, the latter is closer to what planned. In any case, the promotion of the new proposals over an actual continuous trial is highly likely to have a debasing effect — when poor infrastructure is built, people have less faith in cycling infrastructure overall or at least their city’s ability to build such.

People will still have to defend these “interim measures” online to others, to their workmates, to family and friends — doing that when the proposals are so flawed and unsafe is a hard sell.

Please contact your councillors

Remember: If you agree that the council’s proposals are not enough and if you want a continuous route to be trialed, please: contact your councillors — text them, phone them, email or even tweet them them as soon as you can before Monday.

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.

3 Comments

  1. Please note that Dublin Cycling Campaign, the voice of everyday cyclists in Dublin, fully supports this trial proposal for the Liffey Cycle Route. The reasons are outlined here – https://mailchi.mp/0cce4652b624/ask-your-councillors-to-support-the-liffey-cycle-proposal?e=6822a6885e
    This is a very positive initiative by Dublin City Council to move things forward in the interim period before the full segregated cycle route is realised.

  2. @Colm the cycling campaign’s position is bewildering — shocking that in 2020 a cycling campaign is “fully supporting” 1 metre cycle lanes, segregation that gives up at bus stops and junctions, and shared sections with taxis and buses.

    Dublin Cycling Campaign have been wrong in the past and I think they are making a different kind of mistake here but it will again be on the wrong side of history. I could be wrong.

  3. Unbeleivable. We need a decent minister for transport and local TDs that support cycling. I live in kildare south constituency, and only 1 TD said anything useful about cycling in their “promises”- a lengthy protected lane from Naas to Caragh. If it comes it better not be like this. BUT, it’s still progress.

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