Fingal County Council have started construction on a project which includes Ireland’s first Dutch-style roundabout.
While there are two cycling–priority roundabouts in Limerick City, and another was installed previously in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown before being removed, none of these come anyway as close to following the modern Dutch layout for walking and cycling priority roundabouts.
Although Dutch roundabout designs vary, the design of Fingal’s roundabout is similar to textbook design in the Dutch guidance in the ‘Design Manual for Bicycle Traffic’ published in 2016.
It is also similar to the Dutch-style roundabout design which underwent testbed trials by UK-based TRL (formerly Transport Research Laboratory) before the design were used on-street in Cambridge. Despite a single motorist in Cambridge running into pole and some negative media headlines, the roundabout has been in place since 2020 and is seen as a success by both the council and campaigners.
Fingal County Council also has an advantage over Cambridge — it will first use the design on a new section of road, rather than retrofitting it into an existing junction.
The first Dutch-style roundabout in Ireland is being delivered as part of the Church Fields Link Road and Cycle Network in Mulhuddart, which has support from the National Transport Authority. The overall project opens up land to housing and better links existing housing to schools and community facilities.
As part of the project, the Dutch-style roundabout design will only be used on a new roundabout located on a short section of new road. The new road extends an existing road off Damastown Rd / Ladyswell Rd to meet with Damastown Avenue.
New cycle paths and cycling and walking crossings will also be provided on the road, as well as upgraded cycling infrastructure on other roads.
For now, the existing roundabouts will just get new walking and cycling crossings, including signalised crossings at the larger roundabouts. But the Dutch-style roundabout could become a standard design used across Fingal and beyond.
If adopted for further use, as in the Netherlands, this roundabout design is most likely to appear in suburban areas of cities and in towns.
Kevin Baker, the chairperson of the Dublin Cycling Campaign welcomed the development of a Dutch-style roundabout in Ireland.
He said: “It’s great to see new cycling infrastructure being delivered to connect old and new communities to local places like parks and schools. The first Dutch style cycling roundabout included in this project is a sign of the improving quality of cycling infrastructure designs in Ireland.”
Paul Carroll, a senior engineer at the planning section of Fingal County Council said: “The Church Fields Link Road project is one that we have brought forward in the last few years — it’s a large tract of council-owned land that we are bringing through to deliver housing along side parkland.”
“We saw an opportunity to provide a new layout roundabout, we wanted to provide the possible highest standard and level of service we could provide for the area — there’s a young enough demographic there and there’s a school campus to the north east, so, we’d be conscious that there’d be a wide variety of different ages using it and we wanted to make it as safe and attractive as possible,” he said.
Carroll said: “Initially we started off with the standard NTA cycle-friendly roundabout… and we were conscious that the National Cycle Manual is being reviewed at the moment and we wanted to develop something that would align with the newer version.”
He said the greenfield side allowed them to have a bit more room for maneuver.
He said the council would look at other designs if they were proven to be better, but he said: “We’re hopeful that this will prove to safe and attractive. There’s a lot going in its favour — it’s a greenfield site, the land was in our ownership, and it’s going to come on stream gradually, so, it’s not going to be a hugly busy road when it starts. All of that gave us a bit of confidence to go and try it. It’s different going in and retrofitting it on a busy road where you’d have other issues to try and do it that way.”
The work has started on the site and the overall project has an 18 month timeframe for completion, with progress on completion expected to be seen in early 2023.
Here’s a video of the opening day of the UK’s first Dutch-style roundabout in Cambridge, from the Cambridge Cycling Campaign: