The National Transport Authority’s BusConnect team has no records showing formal safety or accessibility analyses of new designs it is proposing to use across Irish cities, and it is using documents which do not support their position to try to support a design for cycle tracks narrowing to 1 metre at bus stops.
According to a response to Freedom of Information request late last year, the BusConnects team said formal records fully addressing the request for how larger bicycles and tricycles were accounted for in the design do not exist. The BusConnects team gave a detailed written response, but one which conflicted with or at least was not support by the design manuals it was using as support.
The National Cycle Manual was published by the National Transport Authority (NTA) over a decade ago and is due for renewal, but the width calculator in the original edition does not allow for cycle tracks less than 1.25 metres wide. The UK’s Local Transoft Note 1/20 standard, published in 2020, also tells designs to be aware that there are types of cycles up to 1.2 metres wide.
Yet both documents are used to justify the planned narrowing of cycle tracks at some bus stops to just 1 metre wide.
The BusConnects team even quotes the section of Local Transoft Note 1/20 which outlines that designers should design for cycles of a width upto 1.2 metres.
The BusConnects team said that the “minimum cycle track width” at most segregated cycle track designs at bus stops will be 1.5 metres. But they confirmed that with a design calling “Shared Bus Stop Landing Zone arrangement” a marked cycle track of 1 metre will be used.
The BusConnects team said: “This arrangement also removes the conflict between cyclists and stopping buses as cyclists are ramped up to footpath level through the stop. Through this area, the cycle track is narrowed locally to 1.0m over a very short distance. This allows for the provision of a landing zone for passengers boarding and alighting the bus, reducing the potential for conflict between pedestrians and cyclists.”
They said that “The provision of a 1m wide cycle track is supported by the Width Calculator within the National Cycle Manual, which states that the minimum width required for single file cycling where there are no kerbs or other obstructions on either edge, is 0.75m. It is acknowledged that a small number of adapted cycles may be wider than this 1m width, however as noted, this area will be flush with its surroundings, i.e. there will be no upstand kerbs on either side of it. Because of this, such a cycle could navigate through this area, with a small over-ride of the edges of the designated cycle track.”
However, design drawings in the ‘Preliminary Design Guidance Booklet for BusConnects Core Bus Corridors’ shows that the narrowing of the cycle track happens before it ramps up and is flush with the footpath / bus stop level:
At the bus stop level, people cycling adapted cycles “with a small over-ride of the edges of the designated cycle track” as suggested be the design team would be a risk cycling into what is often call “tram track” tactile paving.
This is on top of the cycle track designs showing what is effectively a double chicane 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 long zebra crossings marking which may also cause a sliping risk when went.
Referring to the UK’s Local Transoft Note 1/20 standard, the BusConnects team said: “At the approach to island bus stops, it is intended to reduce cyclists’ speeds in advance of the upcoming conflict point with pedestrians crossing to or from the island. As such the minimum radius associated with a design speed of 10 kph (4m) was selected.” However, the LTN 1/20 does not support the combination of features shown in the drawings and outlined in the last paragraph.