COMMENT & ANALYSIS: Dublin City Council’s C2CC project is on the verge of being one the best urban cycle routes in Ireland, but the project still has some serious design issues which should be resolved before construction later this year.
The council has said that a balance has been take, but the safety-critical issues remain in this project is because of what can be seen as design by committee rather than design by sustainable safety. As one report on the council’s website puts it:
“The current detailed proposal reflect a lengthy design development process with inputs from a range of disciplines within DCC and other organisations as well as through the Community Consultation process. The finalised scheme represents the accommodation of many, often conflicting, requirements within an integrated design. However the core public realm objectives and potential of the project are still being met.”
The problem is having a safe cycle route never seemed to be a core objective of the project — the council’s original proposals included far less segregation and officials gave excuses as to why segregating cycling on the route wasn’t possible (ie not a priority).
The project was originally titled as a cycle route project, but now has the longer name of “Clontarf to City Centre Cycle & Bus Priority Project” or the C2CC Project for short. In reality it always had buses in mind nearly more so than cycling. Now, the project is a full street renewal scheme including repaving footpaths, adding trees, other greenery etc and also includes paths within Fairview Park.
Some unresolved issues with the project in terms of walking and cycling include:
- Using experimental ‘Dublin-style’ “protected” junctions.
- Mixing pedestrians and cycling at a number of crossing points.
- As covered recently, bus stop designs which could cause more conflict.
- No buffer space between left turning vehicles and the cycle track at non-signalised junctions.
- Several junctions where there’s no turns for people cycling, even where motorists can make such turns.
- No provision for future contra-flow cycle route out of one street.
- Cycle track kerb design choices which is likely to result in illegal parking after the project is finished.
The project starts outside Connolly Station — the footpaths on both siders are narrowed rather than taking away a stretch of bus lane (bus priority can be done via traffic lights when traffic is heavy).
If you’re not familiar with this pedestrian crossing, outside the train station, it’s normally one of the busiest ones outside of those on Dublin’s main streets. For this narrowing to work pedestrians will need significantly more traffic light priority than they had pre-Covid:
The side street below is Lower Sheriff Street — it’s unclear if this design will block off the existing cycle path on Lower Sheriff Street. If anything the Clontarf route means it’s the ideal time to renew the cycle paths on Lower Sheriff Street.
The junction of Buckingham Street Lower and Foley Street includes the following issues:
- No provision for future contra-flow on Buckingham Street Lower (a secondary route of the GDA Cycle Network Plan).
- No provision to cycle from Foley Street out into the new cycle route on Amiens Street in any direction.
- Mixing walking and cycling on the crossings from Amiens Street southbound to Buckingham Street Lower.
- Removal on the previous continuous footpath design.
- No safety buffer between the main road and the cycle track to allow motorists to yield.
This is Buckingham Street Lower — it’s one-way… three trucks could fit side-by-side here and there would still be extra space left over. But no apparent provision is being made for future contra-flow out of the street:
At this kind of unsignalised crossing in the Netherlands, it’s common to have a safety buffer between the main road and the cycle track to allow motorists to get a better view of the cycle path and yield to people cycling:
Without the above, people cycling will still be a greater risk of suffering left hooks — there’s nobody cycling here, but this image from Google Maps reminds me of a left hook happening here between me a taxi driver years ago (thankfully I reacted quickly), and, on other occasions, pulled backed when I could see in time that other motorists were trying to to similar.
The following sections seems of a high quality — the side street in the first image is a dead end and is of very low usage:
Not very clearly shown here is the accesses to the filling station. This will hopefully be redeveloped into something more useful given the city centre context, but if it remains as a filling station care needs to be taken with the design.
The continuous cycle path and footpath design is commendable on this project and is present here. But extra measures may need to be looked at, at least something like extra bicycle logos on the cycle track at the access points:
IrishCycle.com covered the design of these bus stops in a recent article, so, there’s no point repeating that here other to say that this is over engineering or over thinking the design with no accounting for human behaviour of people walking or cycling:
Below are images of what’s planned for the Five Lamps junction where the route goes from to North Strand Road and intersects with Seville Place and Portland Row. What’s planned has been nicknamed “Dublin-style protected junctions”, which differ a lot from Dutch-style protected junctions, and when I say differ, these junctions are experimental and cycling campaigners have asked for them not to be used.
An article from late last year goes into why the Dublin Cycling Campaign objected to this design for the Swords bypass — that article also includes simple images that shows the differences between the junction designs.
In its BusConnects submission on junctions, the campaign went into further details. It said:
The Dublin Cycling Campaign strongly objects to the Dublin-style junction design proposed as part of BusConnects. From our evaluation it does not meet the needs of cyclists and results in an untenable safety scenario where people cycling are vulnerable to left hooks, particularly at larger junctions. Unfortunately, there is not a single version of this junction in operation in Ireland to evaluate in real-life.
The only comparison is Lombard Street, which is currently being removed by Dublin City Council. BusConnects is proposing a mass roll-out of an experimental junction design that could have systematic design flaws that lead to serious or fatal injuries for people cycling.
But Dublin City Council and the National Transport Authority has continued, determined to reinvent the wheel:
In the next two images there’s some nice greenery while maintaining most of the existing trees and adding extra new ones:
Again, bus stops are covered in a seprate article.
And a little buffer between the cycle path and roadway could help with the side road here.
This is the junction with the Royal Canal Greenway — the drawings for some reason has not been update to reflect the fact that the link between here and the north Docklands has been opened (at the lower end of the image beside the crossing.
A two-way cycle path on Charleville Mall is overengineering and not a great solution here. Best practice should be implemented at this junction.
There should be seprate crossings for walking and cycling. The Royal Canal Greenway will be a primary route in itself and feeder route from the Docklands to the Clontarf route. People walking and cycling should not be mixed on the crossing here.
Best practice would include:
- Separate crossings for walking and cycling.
- Keeping people cycling off the footpaths except for crossing them, but nothing using footpaths as waiting areas for people cycling.
- Filtering Charleville Mall with a turning area for residents and car parking maintained or even increased to avoid the current situation of parking on the footpaths.
- Add extra greenery with the space freed up by filtering the entrance to Charleville Mall.
There’s likely little extra that could be done on this project on the following few sections — the extra trees are a welcome addition:
The junction of Annesley Place has a highly unsuitable junction design for where buses, trucks and other vehicles will be turning — this must be redesigned to be made safe:
A safety buffer should be put in place at the side street access to Leinster Ave and the access to the fire station — otherwise this section has the potential to make this a far nicer area by adding a buffer between the footpath and footpath:
The junction design at the river here has the same issues as the one at North Strand Road as discussed above — the extra outbound traffic lane here makes the road along Fairview into freeway-like road and for most of the day it encourages speeding:
This is a great addition to the area — a crossing over to the south end of Fairview Park. But having separate walking and cycling crossings would be better for all users:
This project also includes a shared greenway-like path between Fairview and Alfie Byrne Road along the River Tolka. Ideally there would be seprate paths.
Going back to Fairview… this is another example where the side road could and should have a safety buffer. Although this is a dead end, so, it’s not as important as other mentioned junctions:
This is very high quality:
But the junction design mixes people walking and cycling crossing the main road, and it is a backwards step compared to previous designs which allowed for people cycling to exit intersecting road here (Fairview Strand) and turn right:
This is high-quality bar the bus stop:
There is space here for at least a small safety buffer between the roadway and the cycle path at the side road access here:
The crossing shown here should include crossings, one for walking and one for cycling… and there is ample space to provide such here:
Again, high quality except for the bus stop:
Again high quality away from the junctions:
The junction into the Malahide Road has also being downgraded for cycling compared to previous versions of this project. The older design used to allow for people to cycle from the Fairview Park side to the Malahide Road
This is a different section view of the same junction — the red circle point (showing a tree removal) is a half Dutch-looking junction crossing point but also includes a bit of mixing walking and cycling, and it does not look like it could safely hold many people waiting to cross over to the park:
This design looks near slip-road like and needs more to slow motorists before they cross the cycle path:
The junction into the Howth Road also does not allow for all movements for people cycling and leaves people cycling out of the Howth Road unprotected so that two genial turning lanes are maintained:
The access point to the West Wood Club is in the centre bottom of this image and it looks much like it is now — not great:
The cycle path on the top of this image will be driven over to access the houses and driveways here — it would be best if some of the wide footpath space here was used as a buffer between the cycle path and road. Even if a small buffer.
At the bottom of the image the cycle path should be inside the green area:
This is the end of the route in Clontarf:
As mentioned before, this planned bicycle roundabout should be removed and replaced with a simple T-junction as used across the Netherlands where busy two-way cycle paths meet. BicycleDutch has written about how bicycle-only roundabouts are overkill in design terms, not once but twice — see: here and here.
It’s also unclear why the footpaths (shown here in dark grey with lines) are split here to both sides of the cycle paths — this is an area used by people running, walking and dog walkers. It would be better if the pedestrians space was combined into one and ideally separated from the cycle path by a green buffer:
Overall this project has strong opportunity of not only improving sustainable transport provision between the city centre and south east suburbs, but also improve the street scape for those living and working along the route.
Unfortunately there seems to be a unwillingness to accept that there’s still serious issues with the design of the project for walking and cycling.