Liffey Cycle Route: Here’s what’s planned on Dublin’s quays

UPDATE: See this newer article for an updated outline of what’s planned — it is far more limited and differs from what was described in the council’s report which this article is based on. 

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COMMENT & ANALYSES: Planning of the Liffey Cycle Route has been trudging on since after it was proposed in 2010, so, it’s understandable many people think something is better than nothing. But the new plans will in many ways make things worse and by leaving conflict points unprotected will lull people into danger.

After further delay, set up the petition calling for a trial of a continuous route which would disrupt cars but would be worth it — the new proposals by the council are far from continuous.

I have gotten a lot of flack from cycling campaigners for holding the line on this, but after setting up a the petition calling for a trial of a continuous route it would be wrong of me to stand back when I know what’s been proposed by the council in response is likely to make things worse on the quays.

Here’s a link to a PDF of the report on the proposals from written up by Dublin City Council officials to councillors, who we’re told will vote on this on today (Monday):

Most people are not going to read the report and it’s very light on images of what the route will look like along different sections. So, you can skip below to see images of different sections outlined below.

Key details from the report

The report is light on a lot of detail, including junctions, but we know that conflict-ridden in-line bus stops will be used. We know this design isn’t safe and becomes more and more dangerous when there’s large volumes of both cyclists and buses, which there are much of the quays at peak times.

A route “trial” like this needs (a) to avoid bus stops in its routing, or (b) use “bus stop bypasses” / island bus stops, otherwise, it’s not trialing a segregated route. The suggestion which the council is trying to block, avoids bus stops at all but two locations where it would be cost effective just those.

This is what in-line bus stops look like:

Here’s the overview of where narrow, wider and no cycle lanes can be provided — this, however, does not show the many places where bus stops interrupt the cycle track or where the cycle track will not be able to be segregated because of large junctions or parking / loading / bus stops inside the cycle track:

In this table from the report, the words like “Cycle lane Protected Cycle Lane Achievable” is misleading, or highly misleading — due to bus stops or parking or loading etc large sections on the quays listed as “Protected Cycle Lane Achievable” are not at all achievable under this project type with the constrains set on it.

For example, Bachelors Walk and Eden Quay is nearly fully lined with bus stops and you cannot put protected cycle lanes in with this project at points where there are bus stops. But both of those are marked as “Protected Cycle Lane Achievable”.

The report shows this photo as an example of section to be provided (although these, as far as I know, are not Orcas as the caption states) — again, as we cover below, there’s many places where segregation with Orcas etc will not be possable due to bus stops / parking etc.

Below is another view of Leeson Street from Street View (when different types of light segregation were being used, including Orcas and Dublin Orcas with bollards within the Orcas). The traffic here is slowed as two lanes merge into one for a section of the road. On the narrow sections of cycle tracks planned of the quays there will be buses and trucks in wider lanes right up beside the lane dividers.

As the council did not provide much in the way of even example cross sections etc, used the report generally and especially Appendix A (shown at the end of this article) to come up with the following:

Parkgate Street (west of Infirmary Road)

(this is likely correctly shown in Google Maps as the start of Conyngham Road, despite the courts have a Parkgate Street address, the Dublin Region Homeless Executive on the other side of the street is Conyngham Road)

This is what it looks like now and we have the section in question marked in a highlighted box:

The report proposes:

  • 1 Westbound traffic lane.
  • 1 Westbound right turn lane.
  • 1 Eastbound bus lane. — they have this wrong there is no eastbound bus lane here and the council are highly unlikely to remove the left turning lane which links to the North Circular Road.
  • 1 Eastbound traffic lane.
  • All of the above are 3 metre lanes
  • Remove westbound traffic lane
  • 1.5m Eastbound cycle lane
  • 1.5m Westbound Cycle lane
  • 1m Buffer outside parking on north side.

So, we get something like this this cross-section image which shows the width the council are giving for kerb-to-kerb (in other words, from footpath to footpath), so, the indented disabled parking / drop off / taxi bay for the Courts is not shown here:

PLEASE NOTE: The red colouring in all of our cross sections are show best practice to colour cycle tracks — it’s unclear if the council intends to do so, even at pinch points or junctions etc.

There’s a few problems with the layout.

The council also does not say anything about where they will be putting lane dividers (if any) and here is seems like it would be hard to fit them on most of the north side of the street section here (top in the Google Maps image above, and left on the cross-section) as it would block access to the indented parking / drop off area for the Courts.

Going into the Phoenix Park how do people get from the inside lane (right above) to the Phoenix Park? We deal with this in the trial proposals. But the council has yet to try to deal with it in a single version of the Liffey Cycle Route.

People cycling east towards the city centre already filter left of traffic before it starts to turn (as the black car in the image below is about to). Adding a cycle track to this location without a Dutch-like protected junction design will create more conflict between people cycling straight on and people driving cars turning left, especially where the cyclists arrive at the junction after cars have started turning.

Parkgate Street (east of Infirmary Road)

This is the current layout on the start of the west side of Parkgate Street:

The following cross-section is what I have taken from the council’s description.

The circled cycle lane might be able to be switched to the inside of the parking, otherwise there is no protection along here as cars have to access the car parking.

There’s some issues at the end of this the way the cycle track would have to curve out to get back in line — nothing beyond fixing at this point, but…

The next part of this section on Parkgate Street has bus stops on both sides of the street which are to remain as in-line bus stops, so, again, no segregation at these points:

The below image shows (1) what the in-bound bus stop looks like and (2) a very rough mock up of what it is likely to look like:

You then get this type of conflict between buses and people trying to cycle into the city — it’s unfair to both bus drivers and people cycling:

IMAGE: Example of bus driver trying to pull into an in-line bus stop when there’s a flow of cyclists

The same or worse would happen on the other side of the road — likely worse due the location of the DublinBikes station and the way bus drivers will have to cut cross and then go inside the flow line of people cycling:

Parkgate Street (between LUAS and Frank Sherwin Bridge)

Otherwise known as Wolfe Tone Quay, it is the start of Wolfe Tone Quay. For clarity:

The city council says this section is 11.5 metres wide — I’d be surprised if it wasn’t closer to 11 metres. But, in any case, this cross section is based on the council’s measurements, including very narrow 1.2 metre cycle tracks — this is not about being perfect but these lanes are over 1/2 below standard in the Irish National Cycle Manual.

Any kind of separation such as bollards or Orcas will made the usable space even narrower. This will cause more conflict with bus, taxis and other drivers when people cycling won’t want to use these lanes:

Frank Sherwin Bridge

There’s no plans outlined for how people are to get safely from the south side kerb-side to the route up towards the Phoenix Park — ie from the bottom X to the top one. The seems to be no plans to change any of the bridges along the quays.

Wolfe Tone Quay

That’s this section shown in the image below — at mostly 13 metres wide kerb-to-kerb, it’s one of the wider sections of quays this side of O’Connell Street:

The provision on the largest section of Wolfe Tone Quay will be the widest one-way cycle track — it will be the best part of this proposals but isolated and short lived before it’s interrupted again:

The space here will come from what could be termed “fake car capacity” — the middle “stacking” lane the only real use of which is to “stack” congested traffic so that the traffic jams don’t go too far back onto Parkgate Street or the old N4:

Sarsfield Quay

This is the location of Sarsfield Quay:

The council’s report says that this is will include an Eastbound bus lane, Eastbound traffic lane and Eastbound right turn
traffic lane with the removal of an eastbound traffic lane. This is mostly a reduction in the bus lane width.

On Sarsfield Quay — which is short — the space to the kerb is dominated by the bus stop, which is used a good bit by buses while others and taxis are overtaking. This before and after image below is very rough and might not show the exact 2.5 metre of the proposed cycle lane, but it gives and idea of how the bus stop will still intersect the cycle route — basically a wider cycle lane where buses will still need to pull in:

OR here it is in cross-section format — starting with the idealised image of this, then a bus pulling in and a taxi overtaking and a bus pulled in and a bus overtaking

Ellis Quay (west of Blackhall Place)

This section of Ellis Quay is effectively all part of the Blackhall Place junction:

The plan with the new proposals is to widen the cycle track which is between the bus lane and the left hand turning lane — German campaigners coined the term “murder strips” for this type of design.

They even hired trucks for a photoshoot to show this is not the type of designs cities should be looking for:

IMAGE: Liffey Cycle Route is planning to use unprotected cycle lanes (Images below and above by: Changing Cities)

And it’s not just about cycling for all ages — this design isn’t good for people of any age, not even the fit and brave.

As has previously reported, this dangerous design is shockingly part of the NTA’s permanent proposals for the Liffey Cycle Route — which is a far cry from the continuous and safe route being promised for over a decade.

IMAGE: The NTA’s draft plans for the Liffey Cycle Route includes ending segregation at junctions, including what German campaigners named “murder strips”.

So, what we’ll be getting is a slightly wider “murder strip” of the kind that’s already in place:

Is doing a Dutch-style protected junction possable here? Likely not with the current constrains which are:

  • Protected junction design will not work / work well if it’s feeding into the proposed 1 metre cycle lane (at the green X below)
  • If it is tried without fixing the above, it will not protect from side swipes of buses at taxis around the yellow line below without also having protecting at the yellow line and if there is protection at the yellow line, bus drivers at the purple X will find it hard to turn onto the quays and into the bus lane.
  • If tried without moving the bus lane at the point of the blue X to the quay-side, then queuing traffic with block the bus lane.

Ellis Quay (west of Queen St)

Below is what Dublin City Council are proposing on Ellis Quay between Blackhall Place and Queen Street.

It’s unclear if they are putting bollards etc here but such would make the limited space tighter for people cycling or those driving buses.

Effectively the council are paining a line and possibly putting in dividers in a space which is about the same size or not much bigger than the space shown between the kerb and these buses — the kind of space that any half sensible cyclist would avoid unless they know that there’s no risk of the buses moving. Now the council are planning to invite people into this kind of space by painting a cycle lane here.

The quays are relatively flat and straight but this is a point in the quays where there’s a notable ramp up to the next bridge (note the shape of the quay wall) and there’s a curve in the road around the mouth of the bridge. This is a really bad place to just let a highly sub-standard cycle lane go in.

To make you feel extra penned in — the whole quay is lined with steel bollards:

Arran Quay

There’s decent sections width-wise along Arran Quay:

But it will not be continuous and buses will — as at the other locations above — be pulling into this bus stop shown below (pictured as it is now). This very long in-line bus stop.

And, if the rest of the cycle track along the street is segregated with bollards, then this will be the location where taxis and vans also pull in for a minute, more so because the bus stop is so long.

At the end of Arran Quay the junction with Church Street looks like it won’t be changed — another murder strip which will maybe be made a bit wider:

Inns Quay

Here’s a cross section for what the council are proposing for Inns Quay — a very wide cycle lane which should be impressive but it does not match up to most of what’s proposed for before or after it.

Also, like at other locations, buses will be in the path of the cycle route when pulling into bus stops.

The double bus lane and removal of the parking here means that moving cars will be moved to beside the narrow footpath:

Then there’s the junction at Chancery Place where the quay narrows — if the cycle lane is lane one, the bus lane is lane two and the general traffic lane is lane three… how do drivers in lane three turn left into Chancery Place without blocking up the bus lane?

Ormond Quay Upper

Here’s what it looks like now:

This is what’s proposed — like Inns Quay, it’s an impressive width… but…

…there’s two bus stops which — despite all the space — we’re left with the following because the council’s report rules out anything but in-line bus stops:

The cross-section image also does not show the building-side indented car parking and loading bays, which run most of the way along the quay. Will cars and vans cross the cycle track? Or will the cycle track go in and out behind the parking and loading?

Ormond Quay Lower

So, there’s no space here. The solution the council are proposing in reduce the turn into Swifts Row (which is a little know street between the quays and Jervis Street). But even with this all the is being proposed for Ormond Quay Lower is 1.3-1.5m cycle tracks

The yellow highligher is where the turning lane will be reduced from and the red highlight is where will still have a conflict-ridden sub-standard cycle track:

It seems this design will continue to be used… maybe with a few added flexible bollards?

Bachelors Walk

On Bachelors Walk is basically one big bus stop. But, in any case, the report states:

“Any rearrangement of the current road markings on Bachelors Walk would require major civil works to
the existing bus gate islands. Consideration to be given to maintaining existing arrangement.”

So, this kind of thing:


Eden Quay (O’Connell Bridge to Rosie Hackett Bridge)

On Eden Quay between O’Connell Bridge and the Rosie Hackett Bridge. The report states: “Further assessments would be required to establish potential impacts on Eden Quay Taxi Rank.” But at best here they seem to be pointing to

So, at best maybe a wider cycle track?

Looks like a lot of space here but you cannot remove the lanes here without removing cars from this section of the quays:

Eden Quay (Rosie Hackett Bridge to Butt Bridge)

The rest of Eden Quay is basically a line of bus stops on the building side — so, despite this and other sections showing as a green line in the council’s report, little or nothing meaningful is likely to happen here in the short term:

And a large left-hand turning lane — again, something like the Germans call a murder lane:

When empty as above you have to go as fast as you can to get by the junction without being side-swiped or fully wiped out (I usually exit the cycle lane and “take the lane” here.

Then, at morning rush hour, if you are cycling towards the Docklands you have to filter between cars to make progress. The red backpack is on the same person in each photo.

So, if the plan is to make this lane wider, they are missing the problem:

Custom House Quay

At Custom House Quay we’re back to cycle tracks with bus lanes in them which people cycling will have to cycle into the lane to get around buses. A bit like now but a bit of a wider cycle track.

On the positive side, if the cycle lane is wider, when you are stopped in a line of cyclists because two buses are pulling in on front of you, there’ll be slightly more space between you and the wall of buses beside you:

That’s where the proposals end on the northside …and now for the south side…

Georges Quay

This is Georges Quay:

This was taken on January 2 so there was less traffic around than normal but look at the amount of space here:

What are they planning for cycling here? To “Upgrade existing facility”. There’s 2.5-3 metres to make it wider but in reality it currently is not usable half of the time.

Below is the “existing facility” — Google Street View shows how bus stops along the quay don’t have enough space for the bus to stop and to keep the cycle lane open.

It’s great that they plan to transfer the space for a traffic lane here to a cycle lane, but this project will not change bus stops and likely even more so not indented ones. So, what are we left with here? Removing a general lane to give the space to a wide unprotected cycle lane between bus stops and a bus lane.

Burgh Quay (Butt Bridge to Rosie Hackett Bridge)

Continued on from Georges Quay there will also be a general traffic lane removed from this section of Burgh Quay between Butt Bridge and the Rosie Hackett Bridge.

But it very between the bus stops (circled in highligher) and the side road, very little of this can be segregated as part of this project. Expect parking in the cycle lane.

Then at the junction of the Rosie Hackett Bridge we have a bus gate of sorts. In design it’s not much different than Bachelors Walk’s bus gate of which we were told: “Any rearrangement of the current road markings on Bachelors Walk would require major civil works to the existing bus gate islands. Consideration to be given to maintaining existing arrangement.”

So, the cycle lane will narrow into what it is now:

Burgh Quay (the rest of it)

It’s missing from the table. Maybe it was a mistake.

But it’s highly likely to be business as usual here — I cannot see the council to be willing to remove the right turn lane onto O’Connell Bridge / Street to car parks or the left turn towards D’Olier Street which is a route to the Fleet Street car park. I would love to be wrong on this.

Aston Quay, Crampton Quay and Wellington Quay

These quays are also not listed in the table but, on this one, the map tells us nothing is happening. These quays are marked with red for “no continuous cycle lane achievable” (not that any continuous cycle lane has been achievable on much of what we have shown here so-far.

This is what it’s like on Aston Quay and what it’ll stay like. And the images don’t capture what it’s like when there’s a bus or taxi driver behind you acting as if your life is less important than them needing to get somewhere fast.

Essex Quay

Essex Quay is in the table — one of the two lanes on this short and narrow quay is to be made into a bus lane. It’s a bit of a no brainier which should have been part of the bus lane upgrades a few years ago.

But it does little for cycling — you have to share the lane now with buses and taxis when before it was buses, taxis and private cars.

This means there’ll be 735 metres from O’Connell Bridge to the city council offices on Wood Quay where cyclists will be left sharing with buses and taxis and anybody else pulling in and out of the bus lane.

Wood Quay, Merchants Quay and Ushers Quay

These are not listed on the table but are listed on the map as being able to hold 2 metre wide cycle tracks. In some cases, it’s unclear if the space will come from traffic lanes or parking lanes. There are bus stops on all of these quays, but not along long sections. There;s also elements such as slip lanes which are dangerous to cyclists.

Usher’s Island

Along Usher’s Island the lane nearest the building is due to be changed into a bus lane which cyclists can use.

Bus lanes are hardly attractive to start with but even more so for the notable amount of people wishing to travel up Blackhall Place to locations like Stoneybatter (turn shown with arrow). The west end of this section of the proposed bus lane is also somewhat compromised by the volume of motorists diving up Watling Street (turn circled in red):

Victoria Quay

On Victoria Quay the table states that there will be a cycle lane min 2m provided but it also says there’ll be four traffic lanes of 3m wide each. That leaves shorter than 2m left over and there’s no way you want narrower lanes in light of higher speeds by motorists here.

That’s it, we’re back to the Frank Sherwin Bridge, which won’t change under these proposals.

‘Appendix A’

This section of the report including the text and tables below gives an outline on widths:

Appendix A
An assessment of the kerb-to-kerb widths of each street along the route was undertaken and the minimum traffic lane and bus priority lane requirements were established. The remaining carriageway width available was then reallocated to protected cycle lanes, the desirable width of the protected cycle lane is 2 metres, for an interim scheme an absolute minimum width of 1 metre is deemed acceptable, enhanced bus priority was also considered where possible. Existing footpaths were not reassigned to facilitate cycle lanes. Segregation from traffic would take the form of lane separators and flexible bollards along the route.


  1. Vat amounts of work done here. Wow. I fear though that’s information overload. Non cyclists won’t get it, and many cyclists won’t get it. It’s too complicated. They will build simmering unusable then blame the cyclists for not using it.

  2. Excellent work Cian, built in stone! Your analysis can be used for any presentation / debate on (inter)national cycling conference showing cycling in bad planning & engineering practice. Excellent e-learning material in addition to Irish CycleManual i.e. “learning from mistakes”.
    Keep up the good spirit fighting for a better trial….

  3. Great work on this analysis, it’s all fully appreciated.

    It’s insane to see how many empty stretches there’ll be, even if it is only a trial. It seems like it’s being doomed to fail from the offset.


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