Is this planned Dublin cycle route good enough for school children?

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: “Is this planned Dublin cycle route good enough for school children?” is a question Dublin City Council officials and councilors need to ask themselves regarding the on-going Griffith Avenue Protected Cycle Track.

This isn’t about letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, it’s about basics of safe cycle route design.

Dublin City Council’s webpage for the planned Griffith Avenue Protected Cycle Track states:

“The main aim of this scheme is to provide protected, safe and continuous cycling for all ages and abilities along this route. This is especially important with the numbers of schools in the area as well as the different DCU campus locations.”

The webpage is being updated on an on-going basis with updates to the project as the council progresses on the project.

First, this is the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets on the range of possable road widths:

This is the National Cycle Manual showing the exact design which Dublin City Council is planning to use:

So, it was a bit of a shock that this was the original design layout chosen by Dublin City Council for the section of the route on Griffith Avenue between St Mobhi Road to Walnut Rise — a speed-inducting carriageway width of 7.4 metres wide:

The city council drawings show that the widths on this section vary from 12.1 to 12.4 metres, with the general width being around 12.2-12.3 metres.

In the ‘final drawings’ issues by the council, the cross-sections solution seems to be to:

  • (1) Include painted hatching between the ‘vehicle carriageway’ and the bollards placed beside the cycle lane — this is however an unusual way of classing hatching space as outside the carriageway as the carriageway is generally viewed as the space from kerb-to-kerb (or bollard-to-bollard in this case). Painted hatching does not slow down motorists.
  • (2) Show a ‘vehicle carriageway’ width of 6.5 metres which is more than needed according to two design manuals and maintains this extra width for motorists even at the pinch points where parking is planned.
  • (3) It’s hard to judge this, but it seems the council has narrowed the shown width in cross-sections to show just 11.6 metres — a width not shown anywhere on the original drawings and the new drawings do not include widths besides the cross-sections. It’s unclear why this was done.

A wish for the council to provide parking is one thing, especially outside a doctor’s office, but it’s another thing to do that when the council is also maintaining wider than needed carriageway width and avoid using basic safety features like island bus stops (see below).

Here’s the ‘final’ cross-sections:

Remember this is a cycle route which is being built with school children in mind, but the council are planning on buses pulling into the kerb at different points along the route. This is an example from the original drawings:

 

The city council’s final plans come with an amazing addition — a yield sign painted on the cycle lane:

Bus when people responded to the public consultation issuing concerns about children interacting with buses, this was the council’s unrealistic response which is disjointed from the promise of the project “to provide protected, safe and continuous cycling for all ages and abilities”:

Conflict at Bus Stops
Issue: The proposed design will result in conflict between cyclists and buses and it is requested that
consideration is given to bringing cyclists onto the footpath in the vicinity of bus stops.
Response: There are a number of bus stops along the length of Griffith Avenue. The bus stops are all
quite short and have been squeezed in between existing trees and driveways. The bus stops along
this section are generally not busy and under these circumstances the design team is proposing that
the simplest and safest solution is for cyclists to yield to buses at bus stops, waiting for them to
load/unload passengers before continuing their journey in the protected cycle lane.

There is space to go around bus stops around but that would impede on pedestrian space (when the space is not being used for car parking):

Without impacting on the footpath space already shared with car parking, according to the council’s own figures, there’s generally space for island bus stops on front on the existing bus stops without eating into the footpath space. The city council drawings show that the widths on this section vary from 12.1 to 12.4 metres, with the general width being around 12.2-12.3 metres.

This is an example of what’s possable in a width of 12.3 metres — a small bit more narrowing for the cycle lanes for short sections near bus stops would be worth having an island bus stop, which is a basic for keeping children safe while cycling:

Or are we ok with children interacting with buses like this?

There’s good reason that island bus stops (or bus stop bypasses) are some of the oldest parts of Dutch cycling infrastructure:

And these can be built using quick-build methods:

https://twitter.com/JonIrwinLD/status/1297798103542702082?s=20

Back to the main question: Is this planned Dublin cycle route good enough for school children? If it’s not good enough for the Dutch for a long time or for London on COVID-19 projects, so, parents and councillors have to ask: Why are school children on the northside getting less protection?

Is it?… Not willing to spend a bit more money? Giving too much priority to motorists? Listening to people who scaremonger about bus stop bypasses? An unwillingness to get details right? Or what?

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.

6 Comments

  1. The City Council states that there are not many buses using Griffith Avenue. In that case, if there is not room for a bus bypass, rather than interrupting the cycle lane, the bus should stop in the vehicle travel lane and would be in accordance with the DMURS road hierarchy. And you are right over lane widths, roads engineers default to the maximum rather than the minimum.

  2. To answer the question on this article, “Is this good enough for school children?”, clearly this is not good enough. This is a bike path that is prioritising car travel over both bus and bicycle. The car is left to sail by unobstructed while the bus and cyclist are left to fight it out. Terrible and lazy design.

  3. At least the tracks are 2 meters in relation to island bus stops you know my view on them and the views of many commuters and cyclists in the uk who have found them dangerous you forget the incident on the swords road where a cyclist on a cycletrack which was part of a footpath injured a bus passenger alighting a bus because the track does not stop at the shelter or that the cyclist did not have to yield.i am all for cyclist safety but in my view pedestrian safety comes first

  4. @Martin — Sorry, but no I did not forget the “incident on the swords road”, you’re as usual using your misunderstanding (wilfully or otherwise) and poisoning debate around safe cycling infrastructure.

    The collision at the bus stop on the Swords Road was at shared space where a cycle lane in marked on a footpath and the cycle lane is where bus passengers walk on and off the bus -— it’s a ridiculous design: https://goo.gl/maps/r3c2HHT6ZnULLErD8

    The design stop bypasses or island bus stops are nothing like that design. Could you please stop claiming otherwise?

  5. Those ‘cycle-lanes’ on footpaths that go directly in front of bus-stops are utterly disgraceful and, as Cian pointed out, are nothing like proper island bus-stops. The one that Cian linked to above (is that where the collision occurred?) – I completely avoid using the ‘cycle-lane’ there and stay on the road because it’s not a proper cycle-lane at all.

  6. @Citizen Wolf — yes, that’s where it happened. It was a civil case I think.

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