— Interim safety measures at Hanlon’s Corner discussed by local councillors.
— Protected cycle lanes proposed on North Circular Road, northbound Prussia St.
Before Christmas local area councillors spent the better part of an hour pondering if there is any workable solutions for the loud, hostile, dangerous disaster that is Dublin’s Hanlon’s Corner.
Possible interim safety measures at Hanlon’s Corner — located on the North Circular Road between Cabra and Stoneybatter — were up for discussion at Dublin City Council’s Central Area Committee before Christmas on December 20 2021.
The debate on the junction was just after councillors discussed extending the S2S Dublin Bay cycle path onto East Wall Road, when some claimed, without any evidence or clear reasoning, that the cycle path could be more dangerous for cyclists.
The suggested interventions on the approaches to the junction included:
- Full junction: Resurfacing the full junction.
- Eastbound on the North Circular Road: Removal of the slip turn (while still allowing the left turn) onto the Old Cabra Road to make the corner safer for people walking and cycling.
- Westbound on the North Circular Road: Reducing the footpath width to make space for a cycle lane approching the junction.
- Southbound on the Old Cabra Road: Adding the Irish version of sharrows (or shared lane marking, a bicycle logo pained on the roadway.
- Northbound on Prussia Street: Removal of the pedistain traffic island to make space for a cycle lane.
Drawings and other slides:
Alec Dundon, a senior executive engineer at the Environment and Transportation Department of the council, said that removing the slip turn and the island would be in line with the BusConnects plan for the junction.
He said that the proposals were in response to repeated requests from councillors for improvements at the junction and
Dundon said the footpath narrowing was seen as needed to allow motorists to turn right out of Annamoe Road onto the North Circular Road, which is out of the signalised junction.
BusConnects proposes a protected cycle path southbound on the Old Cabra Road approaching the junction but he said that at the moment the council think that traffic volumes are too high to remove the turning lane and have a single lane for motorists.
He added that officials would look at changes based on the feedback from councillors, including not possibly not removing the island and not narrowing the footpath at the southeast corner of the junction if the space can be found elsewhere.
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The Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets states that “Left turning slips (left) generally offer little benefit in terms of junction capacity and increase the number of crossings pedestrians must navigate. They also allow vehicles to take corners at higher speeds, exposing pedestrians and cyclists to greater danger.”
Cllr Janice Boylan (Sinn Féin) said she lives close to the junction and that she walks, cycles and drives in the area.
But she contradicted modern road safety convention and claimed that the removal of the slip turn would be “taking things out that make things safer for pedestrians to make it safer for cyclists — you cannot choose one over the other.”
She also disagrees with taking out the traffic island on the Prussia Street (or Tesco) side of the junction. She said that a wheelchair user was knocked down at the junction and that the removal of the island would just make it even more unsafe.
Cllr Janice Boylan said: “If I press the button at Hanlon’s Corner to try to get across to Drumalee, it does not even give me enough time to get across the road, never mind when I’m with my four-year-old who walks a little bit slower. So, taking the island out is absolutely going to cause havoc for pedestrians there.”
She said she’s not an avid cyclist or an avid driver, and probably walks most of the time.
Cllr Cieran Perry (independent) also said that he would have an issue with the removal of the slip turn and the island.
He asked that the removal of the island would be “disability proofed” and that the example that Cllr Boylan gave — where the person in a wheelchair was injured with the current design — “was very relevant”.
Cllr Cat O’Driscoll (Soc Dems) said that the surface on the road at the junction is so bad that she cycled through it once and has avoided it since. She said she was in favour of removing the islands so long as the crossing time is increased.
Cllr Janet Horner (Greens) said: “I support the removal of the slip lane, it’s a great example of how we can support safer walking and cycling. It’s a hostile junction for anybody to use.”
She said that the guard rails add to the sense of hostility and that these should be removed.
Referring to the plan to reduce the footpath space on the North Circular Road approaching the south-east corner of the junction, she said: “I’m very reluctant to see footpath space encroached on — on that side of the road you have a high wall on one side and a stream of traffic on the other side. Bringing that down to the minimum width makes it hostile to walk, especially if you’re talking about two buggies passing each other.”
She said while there is a very strong need to protect cyclists that it would be good to look at solutions to gain space from other parts of the road, even taking a little bit of space from the wider footpath on the other side of the road if that works.
Cllr Joe Costello (Labour) questioned how long it would take for permanent solutions and if there is a lot of extra costs.
He said that traffic has increased in the area, and would be wary of the idea that traffic will be reducing.
Cllr Eimer McCormack (Fianna Fáil) said that she was “all of the cycling lanes” but feels a conflict of taking away an island junction.
Cllr Declan Meenagh (Labour) said: “The junction is very loud and it’s not a great place to be when you’re navigating by hearing.”
He said one thing that could improve this is a four-way green light for pedestrians. He said: “Now that causes issues with traffic. The issue for people with no vision is that when they cross a road is they tend to veer in another direction, so, the longer the crossing, the higher the risk of that happening.”
Cllr Meenagh said that is for people with no vision the issue with removing the slip turn is that something should replace it rather than a large wide-open area, which can be difficult to navigate beside a noisy road.
Cllr Ray McAdam (Fine Gael) said he was also worried about the narrowing of the footpath mentioned by Cllr Horner, and wanted clear definitions of the areas for walking, cycling and motor traffic.
He also said that protection of the cycle lane is needed outside Lidl on the Old Cabra Road because of illegal parking there and said that while there might be no place for a cycle lane up to the junction on the Old Carba Road that an advanced stop line and a head start at traffic lights for cyclists might be of benefit.
He said he would not be in favour of removing the island on the south of the junction unless there’s a timer for the crossing.
Cllr Ray McAdam said that overall the discussion “highlights what an absolute mess this junction is from a traffic point of view, from a road safety point of view.”
He added: “Notwithstanding the interventions [proposed] or the interventions from the NTA, I don’t see what is going to make this junction any significantly better. All we can do here or with the NTA is just, I think, going to be tinkering around the edges. I think just the nature of this junction is a disaster.”
Dundon said that the proposals could be tweaked to take account of what councillors said. Funding for the works would depend on the NTA approving it.
He said it was not planned to put the changes out to public consultation but councillors wanted to have public consultation on the minor measures and this will now be done before the changes are made.