Fears of cycle paths beside bus stops should not be dismissed, but scaremongering is clouding balanced solution

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: The concept of cycle paths between footpaths and bus stops have become controversial in Ireland and the UK. It’s more than understandable that some people fear change, but when others have been promoting fear that doesn’t help with a contentious issue.

It needs to be said that one of the main people pushing fear about this design in Ireland has gone on the record at least 3-4 times in the last year to justify and defend motorists parking on footpaths. This kind of parking often blocks or hinders people in wheelchairs and people with sight issues, so, his support for illegal footpath parking should be a red flag.

IrishCycle.com is not naming this person for a few reasons including avoiding any claims that this website is targeting him. For the avoidance of doubt: If you know who this is about, please don’t give him any grief. Not even a tiny bit.

There was already a lot of evidence that this person was generalising the behaviour of rowdy people he encountered on the streets and applied this to all cyclists — it’s unfortunate but if you go around challenging teenagers and adults in a city centre, at least some are not going to be nice back to you. That applies regardless of if they are on foot, on a bicycle or in a car.

And, in the last year, he has played a small part in rallying against projects like Strand Road cycle route trial in Dublin where he claimed were shared surfaces where there was no shared surfaces, and also no bus stops and all the pedestrian crossings were fully signalised. Claiming there would be shared surfaces was done in bad faith.

One of the most recent tactics is repeatedly pointing to a highly edited video taken at a bus stop design in London — human interaction from an unknown time frame into a squeezed into a short video will look scary to many people. In the video which is under 2 minutes long there’s a total of around 27 clips merged into one — that’s on average 4.2 seconds a clip.

Add in clips of rickshaw drivers and a scooter users going the wrong way on footpaths (so irrelevant to the bus stop design) and you have scaremongering gold. It has to be asked, if a group is involved with this much editing, what is their goal?

While it is becoming clearer and clearer that some people are acting in bad faith, the discourse has been poisoned to the extent of influencing planned designs which might have unintended consequences such as making the designs less safe and impacting on people with disabilities who use or will want to use cycle paths.

The layout in question of having a cycle path between the footpath and bus stop has a few names such as “bus stop bypass” or “island bus stops” — these kind of terms unfortunately invoke the idea of massive road construction. When the reality is that we’re talking about a cycle path design that allows for all ages and abilities of people to cycle and others beyond those on bicycles to use cycle paths when they want to.

As written elsewhere, there is no alternative… or at least no reasonable alternative to having a segregated cycle path at bus stops. Mixing buses and cycling is not suitable for cycling all ages and abilities, and mixing walking and cycling space is worse for all.

Concerns should not be dismissed. Not even fear should be. But scaremongering is different— it needs to be challenged as it clouds resolutions contentious issues and that ends up impacting on others.

If the people spreading fear want to continue to suggest cycle path users of all ages and abilities should be mixed in with buses at stops, they need to answer if:

This type of cycle path crossing point in the from a bus stop to a footpath in Netherlands is so deeply unacceptable… and…

… this London version — a raised crossing with contrasting colour at the crossing point — is also so unacceptable…

…then why have you not been kicking and screaming about all of the existing places people have to cross roads with fully signalised crossings?

Such as standard side roads you can find in every town and city in Ireland. Many of these could me made more pedestrian-friendly but that’s something rarely said by people campaigning against segregated cycle path designs.

Or service/access roads between bus stops and footpaths (see below images). These’s a surprising number of examples of these in around Ireland — and many of them could do with upgrading to make the crossing points accessible and safe::

Hyde Road, Limerick:

Old Dublin Road, Galway:

An example on the Kylemore Road, Dublin:

Ballyfermot Road, Dublin:

Glenageary Avenue, Dublin:

Swords Road, Dublin:

Collins Ave:

N81, Dublin:

Malahide Road, Dublin:

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