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Isn’t it funny how people concerned with cycle paths blocking emergency access don’t see any problem with car-related congestion?

— Well-designed two-way cycle paths should be able to fit fire trucks.

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: If people are claiming that police, fire service or ambulance vehicles will be blocked by two-way cycle paths, there’s a good chance that (1) they are using emergency access as an excuse to object to the cycle path, and/or (2) the cycle path can be improved.

People in Galway might think this article is about their city and some people in the South Dublin County Council area may think the same. But it’s is an excuse in different countries when walking and cycling infrastructure is suggested or planned.

For example, despite repeated claims to the contrary, research on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods found that “there was no evidence that the introduction of LTNs was associated with a change in the response time” for fire engines.

Once a two-way cycle path has an effective width of 3 metres, or slightly wider, it should be able to fit emergency services vehicles.

Regardless of emergency access, those designing two-way cycle paths should be aiming for wider where they space is available, ie at least 3.5 metres but ideal 4 metres wide. With these widths, emergency access should be possible as long as the route is of a high-quality, ie no sharp bends etc.

The reality is that 99.999% of people who make such claims aren’t alerting newspapers or taking to social media when a fire engine or ambulance gets blocked by congestion caused by motorists moving around or parking their cars.

So, people giving out that cycle paths do or will block ambulances or fire tenders is rarely anything other than anti-cycling infrastructure (or pro-status quo) rhetoric. They probably also said something like “I’m a keen cyclist, but…” or “I’m all for cycle lane, but…”.

Or they’ll have Tim, a local avid cyclist supporting their group of objectors. When a photo is taken for Facebook or the local newspaper, Tim will even have made sure to dress up in his sports cycling gear to show he’s a real cyclist. Standing there as proud as can be against cycling infrastructure design with people of all ages and abilities in mind.

Examples of two-way cycle paths used by emergency services:

Dublin: There’s many examples on the DLR Coastal Mobility Route in Dublin where emergency services have used the cycle path:

Paris: The film “Notre-Dame Brûle” is to show how firefighters arrived quickly on the scene despite the traffic jams thanks to the cycle path along the Seine which had just been completed, which is based on accounts of what happened when Notre-Dame was ablaze:

London: As a city with a good few two-way cycle paths along central main roads, emergency services can use the cycle paths to bypass congested motor traffic: is reader-funded journalism. That means it's funded by readers like you.

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Cian Ginty

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