BusConnects: No records of safety or accessibility analyses for planned cycle path designs at bus stops

The BusConnect project team, part of the National Transport Authority, has no records of safety or accessibility analyses for planned cycle path designs at bus stops planned for Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway, the NTA said in response to a Freedom of Information request.

The NTA team said that no testbed trials are needed because current designs across Dublin and Ireland operate “safely and effectively”. But the BusConnects team is planning to make major adjustments to the design according to a design booklet which was only made public because of previous Freedom of Information request by a member of the public and provided to IrishCycle.com.

Design elements for cycle paths at bus stops planned under the BusConnects projects and already planned to be used on other projects, include: What is effectively a double chicane on the cycle track around the bus stop, double narrowings, with rumble strips, then “tram track” tactile paving on a bend in the cycle track, followed by a ramp, follow by LED warning studs which local authorities have warned may pose a slipping risk, and followed by (1) push button pedestrian crossings or (2) long zebra crossings marking which may also cause a sliping risk when went.

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The bus stop designs in the Preliminary Design Guidance Booklet for BusConnects:

Experts mentioned, but no formal records on safety or accessibly analyses

In response to the Freedom of Information request, the BusConnects team said: “The Preliminary Design Guidance Booklet has also been reviewed by each of the four Engineering Designers involved in the development of the Core Bus Corridor Infrastructure Schemes, who have a wealth of combined knowledge and experience relating to the safe design and delivery of urban infrastructure, including bus stops, and the road safety considerations associated with same. Furthermore, the Preliminary Design Guidance Booklet has been reviewed by an international expert from the Netherlands, at the forefront of safe cycling infrastructure design.”

The NTA BusConnects team said that the Preliminary Design Guidance Booklet is “intended to act as a design guide for the development of preliminary designs” and that design will be further refined. it said that “Designer’s Risk Assessments have been continuously carried out on each scheme throughout the design process, in consultation with the Project Supervisor for the Design Process (PSPD) team.”

“It is noted that the proposed island bus stop crossing detail in the Preliminary Design Guidance Booklet is supported by the findings of a recent hearing before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal which found that the installation of island bus stops with just zebra crossing markings on the crossing surface of the bicycle lane, were discriminatory and constituted a breach of the British Columbia Human Rights Code. It also found that the breach was remedied when flashing yellow beacons activated by push button and with an audible signal were subsequently installed at some of the stops. The Preliminary Design Guidance Booklet island bus stop design details aligns with the findings of this ruling,” they said.

While a flashing warning lights with audible messages for pedestrians was found to be a reasonable accommodation by the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, groups representing people who are blind in Canadian still wanted cycle paths at bus stop to be scrapped.

The BusConnects team added: “Extensive consultation has also been carried out with representatives of accessibility advocacy groups. This feedback and consultation has informed the design approach in relation to the method of control at conflict points, the siting of the crossing locations as well as more detailed issues such as kerb detailing and crossing widths.”

Similarly to in Canada, a number of Irish advocates for people with sight issues want no segregated cycle paths at bus stops. Some have suggested that there should be a traffic light system between people cycling and buses, but it unclear how such a system could work practically or safely to provide for cycling for all ages and abilities including children and people with disabilities.

No testbed trials

IrishCycle.com asked the NTA if any any records of testbed trials of the designs in the BusConnects Core Bus Corridors design were undertake, such as the trials undertaken by TRL (formerly Transport Research Laboratory) who tested the Dutch roundabout design for the UK Government before the design were used on streets. No records existed, the NTA said.

The designs of cycle tracks at bus stops already implemented significantly differ from what the NTA is now planning for Irish cities, but the BusConnects team said: “There are numerous island bus stops in operation throughout the Greater Dublin Area and throughout Ireland that operate safely and effectively. It is also noted that the National Cycle Manual includes several examples of island bus stop layouts. The proposed island bus stop within the Preliminary Design Guidance Booklet provides additional safety features to these already tried and tested installations. Accordingly, there was no need to construct additional island bus stop examples on a trial basis, given the existence of numerous similar installations.”

They added: “In relation to the shared bus stop landing zone option included in the Preliminary Design Guidance Booklet, there are several examples of similar concepts where cycleways are routed across bus stops throughout the Greater Dublin Area. The Preliminary Design Guidance Booklet bus stop design proposals expands on this principle through the use of signage, road markings, ITS, etc.”

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