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Please don’t mess up Griffith Avenue a second time — Dublin City Council can do better than this

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: The first iteration of Griffith Avenue cycle route has understandable flaws but it is not acceptable to concrete them in for the medium to long term. Dublin City Council can and needs to do better than what it planned last year.

Dublin City Council’s CEO Owen Keegan is claimed by many to be enthralled by cyclists and the city is incapacitated by the power of the cycling lobby. When the truth is that Dublin City Council cannot even provide full segregation on a route which was planned to be for school children.

The current route is not safe enough or consistently wide enough for cycling for all.

Back in April 2021, this website published an article with the headline ‘Dublin City Council needs to up its game on Griffith Avenue cycle route’ what we missed was the council published “Proposed Upgrade Works” on June 2, 2021.

In that article it was suggested that a two-way cycle path design should be used on the route — it’s the more effective use of space, but it’s not the only answer. The council could build better quick-build unidirectional cycle lanes on both sides of the street to a higher quality than what’s planned.

The updates on the Griffith Avenue consultation page are mostly dated, but it’s not clear when this was added: “Please send in your comments by 25th of June so that they can be considered as part of the design development process. Comments can be directly emailed to CovidMobility@dublincity.ie (with Griffith Ave Proposed Upgrade in the subject bar.)”… was it June 25 last year or this year?

This disclaimer is also posted on the PDF with the drawings, but it’s quite a cop out: “Proposals based on what is achievable under the Interim Mobility Measures. Interventions involving substantial civil works, amendments to existing kerb lines and requiring Part 8 Planning have not been considered. All options shown are concepts only and need to be reviewed to ensure compliance with all applicable regulations prior to implementation.”

We have examples of what can be done in other parts of Dublin and around the world that show that the disclaimer is full of excuses.

Carysfort Ave has fewer driveways than Griffith Ave, but examples like the C9 route in London show that two-way cycle paths can be made to work with frequent driveways and side streets:

As per the article last year, Griffith Ave has much more space to get the details right:

…at least closer to getting the details right with a quick build project and some points can be improved on later. This would be at a traffic-light controlled junction, the cycle path is on the narrow side but the two-way path gives it greater usability and it can then be widened later:

Dublin City Council has a network of cycle routes to build and there’s a need to get a reasonably high-quality network built as fast as possible. What’s planned on Griffith Ave does not inspire confidence that the city council is aiming for anywhere near a reasonably high-quality network.

These are the ‘current’ drawings and photographs, followed by ‘proposed’ drawings and photomontages published for the upgrade planned by Dublin City Council….

First section:

Second section:

Third section:

Bus stops

And — on a route which is claimed to be for children cycling to school — the council are still planning to leave bus stops non-segregated:

Cycle lane widths

Cycle paths or partly segregated cycle lanes should never be a sub-standard* width of just 1.5 metres when a kerb or new planting area could be narrowed or a carriageway could be narrowed to 6 metres wide in line with the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets and the National Cycle Manual.

* = sub-standard below best practice of minimal widths and that will stick even when/if Irish national guidance is downgraded.

1.5 metres is the minimum width of an access point (ie single at bollards/planters at filtered permeability), it’s not wide enough along a route for social cycling or overtaking or people using handcycles or other adopted cycles.

This is an example of parking-protected cycle lanes on the street right now:

The council want to put in planting with an unnecessarily narrow cycle lane something more in this shape and location:

When something like this shape, which leaves for a wider cycle lane is possible:

Forgetting about cyclists and cycle lanes, one of the common complaints (maybe a second to bollards, see below) is that the car parking (in see below) is jutting out into the road:

Why not line the route for motorists straight around the parking? Like the red line here:

People do mind the bollards

The visual clutter caused by the bollards was the main source of complaints online. The bollards are widely accepted as clutter by even people who support cycle routes — with most people arguing that they should be accepted in the short term.

Yet bollards are still being put on top of concrete kerbs in the new design… why? Dublin City Council seems to be planning for bollards on Griffith Ave for the medium to long term.

And note, on these sections, and the parking section, there will still be bollards lining the cycle lane on the opposite side:

This is the explainer from the council on bollards:

“Alternative delineators were also explored however road safety concerns exist around solid objects or bollards on medians separating vehicles and cyclists. On that basis, flexible bollards are proposed. The quantity of bollards will be greatly reduced to minimise visual clutter. A concrete median / extruded kerb to match the existing concrete footpaths and driveways will be used to segregate the cycle lane wherever space permits. The preferred bollard type is a 450mm high black circular bollard with white refl ective strips and we have attempted to source this type of bollard.”

Sure, the “quantity of bollards will be greatly reduced” and there will be less clutter, but why not put in a kerb that doesn’t need bollards? And what about the other side of the road where bollards will still line the cycle lane?

Fear of residents scratching their car seems to be a more likely answer than “road safety concerns”.

Colour

These are driveways on the two-way cycle path on Carysfort Avenue — the surface colour is continuous:

It’s the same at junctions (although this junction could be narrower):

So why would Dublin City Council even dream of having a break in the colour treatment at driveways — it would be better to have no colour treatment than to do this as a break in colour like this emphases a lack of visual priority:

There’s loads of width on Griffith Avenue, this planned design just gives into too many people and fears:

  • the fear that objectors are going to bring them to court,
  • the people scaremongering about cycle paths at bus stops,
  • others who scaremonger about two-way cycle paths or refuse to accept the delay they will cause at the main junctions,
  • the people/agencies/etc who say you cannot have buses in 3 meter wide lanes when I can point to an example of artics being able to drive in such lanes,
  • the people who demand that no more parking can be removed,
  • the fear of being seen to give into cyclists,

Dublin City Council — and I mean collectively here, both officials and councillors — seem to want to give in to every fear rather than create cycle routes that are safe and attractive for all ages and abilities.

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