Better junction design needed if Limerick is serious about shift away from cars, says campaigners

— New project includes road widening, but mixing walking and cycling at junctions.

Limerick City and County County has citied the NTA’s National Cycle Manual to absolve itself after multiple public consultation submissions highlighted what is claimed to be poor design in a road redesign project junctions near the University of Limerick.

Campaigners have hit back at the public consultation report, saying if the city is serious about achieving modal shift to sustainable and active transport then it needs to offer active modes coherent flow through junctions, rather than the shared footpath design planned.

The project includes road widening and signalising the junctions of Plassey Road and Plassey Park Road, and Plassey Park Road and University Road.

While the design includes a shared footpath, the redesign also includes increasing the number of lanes on Plassey Park Road from three to five and Plassey Road from two to three.

The council’s consultation report claimed the reason for shared space between walking and cycling on the junctions is partly to protect people cycling against collisions with left turning motorists, but other corners of the junctions are left with the left turning conflict.

National Transport Authority officials have previously said that the National Cycle Manual is not supposed to be used to brush off criticisms of individual designs, but councils continue to use it in this way. A review of the manual is underway.

Despite the road widening, sections of the planned cycle tracks are just 1.5 metres wide, which is sub-standard according to the National Cycle Manual and even further below best practice. In is explained by the council by stating in its report that wider cycle tracks are provided “where practicable” and the the narrow widths were due to the “confines of the existing geometry and constrains of the built environment”.

Limerick Cycling Campaign said: “This design by Limerick Council is ‘proposed to proceed’ despite a number of concerns raised during consultation. Forcing pedestrians and cyclists together at junctions like this creates conflict and reduces the attractiveness of both modes of sustainable transport.”

“This is Plassey Road [graphic above with overlay by the campaign] — it is a key junction for access to University of Limerick and the technology park. If we are serious about achieving modal shift to sustainable and active transport we need to offer coherent flow through junctions,” the group said.

The Limerick Cycling Campaign added: “The only carriageway that is uninterrupted is that of the private car. Bus and cycle lanes play second fiddle to the movement of cars. Non continuous bus lanes are significantly less effective than continuous ones.”

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.

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