Two-way cycle paths are a key tool in building a workable cycle network and taming streets

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: Two-way cycle paths are a key tool in building segregated cycle networks that are both safe and workable… and also taming streets.

Yes, some junctions can be tricky to design and, yes, some people don’t like them. But when two-way cycle paths are actively ignored as a tool, it helps stagnation. Or too many compromises on delivering a segregated cycle network.

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As covered in the most recent letter to Minister Eamon Ryan, there’s some in the National Transport Authority who are very sceptical to the point that they talk down two-way cycle paths and even claim that Dutch are not using them anymore (which isn’t the case).

An interesting recent Dutch example of two-way cycle paths is Coolsingel in Rotterdam — for more on that, see BicycleDutch’s article: Rotterdam takes an important step towards becoming a cycle-friendly city.

It has to be said that Coolsingel is a very wide street, but the point is that two-way cycle paths can help in the move towards reducing space for cars in city centres and other locations.

That brings us to the redesign of Vestdijk in Eindhoven (pictured in the main image on the website and below), which was as much about greening the city centre and removing the volumes of cars as it was about cycling. Vestdijk is around about as wide as many streets in Dublin, Cork, and Limerick.

Politicians from some Dutch political parties gave out about this change and claimed there would be gridlock because of it, according to local media. The Alderman said the plan would reduce air pollution, add greenery and seating and improve quality of life.

As you can see below, the street already had cycle paths but by changing those into a two-way cycle path more social cycling is now workable. However, a lesson from Eindhoven and elsewhere is that if your city can maximise the width of two-way cycle paths to at least 3.5 or 4 metres, then you’re better off doing that future-proofing the first time around. position is that two-way cycle paths need to be designed carefully and are not suitable everywhere, but — as a tool — two-way cycle paths are underused in Ireland. Not a panacea (as Eindhoven and London show, political will is still needed) and not suitable for everywhere.

Before/after examples:

Before and after at Vestdijk, Eindhoven:

Before and after at Vestdijk, Eindhoven:

Before and after at Kanaalstraat, Eindhoven:

This is an example of a two-way cycle path on a street that would not have had the space for unidirectional cycle paths of a decent width, ie to fit trikes etc.

After at Nachtegaallaan, Eindhoven (before image not available on Street View).

This is part of a network that links to Vestdijk (pictured above). It is an interesting example as it’s more a residential street and it’s been made one-way — here the cycle path is as much traffic calming as it is for cycling. This likely could have been a ‘bicycle street’ but motorists would not have been calmed half as much:

London is likely more famed for its two-way cycle paths:

Before and after at Blackfriars Road, London:

You can look at examples like this and say “but unidirectional cycle tracks would fit on both sides”, but that does not take into account the services like bus stops, space for loading, segregating cycling at junctions etc.

Before and after on the Embankment cycle route, London:

Before and after at Julianalaan, Bilthoven, a town near Utrecht:

The below examples included replacing unidirectional paths and a shared street with two-way paths — previously the unidirectional cycle paths ended the junction below. Now the two-way continues past this junction and the cycle path design reduces the wide roadway.

Often in this kind of context, it is said that mixing cycling with motoring is fine because of lower speeds, but, with the two-way path, children and adults cycling no longer have to deal with cars pulling in or out or trucks loading etc.

The side road here is also changed to include removing motor traffic and having a cycle path down a street with a widened area for pedestrians.

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