COMMENT and ANALYSIS: As part of a project, IrishCycle.com is documenting the zebra crossings in Ireland — please take a look at this map and check if all the zebra crossings that you know of are on it, and, if not, then comment below with the location.
So-far IrishCycle.com — with the help of readers — has found the location of
- 400+ zebras with beacons
- Nearly 40
- 3 normal signalised crossing (which should not include zebra markings)
Such zebras crossings have seen a resurgence in Ireland, but are strangely missing from a large part of our cities and far more extensive use is needed in many towns. In cities, zebra crossings might not be suitable for multi-lane roads, but zebras could be used more extesively, especially raised zebra crossings.
Raised zebra crossings, often work best as they do not just give people crossing priority, but also act as traffic calming, visually enforce the priority, and offer a level surface which is especially better for wheelchairs, prams etc. These are sometimes called “wombat crossings” (mainly in Australia) but we’ll stick with the phrase raised zebra crossings.
There are some misconceptions about zebra crossings that they are only of use in very low-speed environments. But, according to our mapping, it varies but the opposite of the misconception generally seems to be the case — zebras are often used in environments where there’s a need for a controlled crossing. Most local authorities have opted for uncontrolled crossings in lower-speed environments in town centres etc.
As an aside: IrishCycle.com doesn’t just cover cycling issues and this is one of those things that is being covered isn’t directly about cycling.
IrishCycle.com will be covering this more when the mapping is close to complete. But — for now — here are a few rough notes on common issues.
- Not enough zebra crossing — many streets and roads left with no formal crossings
- Many crossing are located too far away from desire line for pedestrians — ranging from a silly distance away from the desire line to daft distances.
- There is a misconception that zebras cannot be located near junctions, guidelines contradict this misconception… does this influence placement of crossings away from desire lines?
- Use of zebra crossings on cycle routes when cyclists are not legally allowed to use the. The UK has legislated for parallel crossings, where a cycling crossing is put beside a zebra crossing. Why don’t we do that instead of making zebras shared?
- Crossings on some but not all arms of some roundabouts — this creates confusion on priority and often makes it harder and less safe for pedestrians when it’s impractical to cross over to the zebras (ie crossing to the zebra can involve crossing three times vs crossing the side without a zebra).
- Crossings with more than one lane to cross — vans and trucks can block line of sight and crossing two lanes at a time can be risky.
- Located on a street or road with too high of a volume or speed of traffic without even a raised surface.
- Crossing plonked into an environment such as a mini-roundabout or on a wide road without removing wider turns or reducing the number of lanes or adding raised crossings etc.
- Wrong colour tactics used — should be red, sometimes yellow are used.
- Wrong signs.
- Extra signs added to the main zebra polls when these signs are warning signs to be used in advance of crossings.
- The zebra markings in Ireland should be of the “ladder” design, but this is often not the case and is it even the best design to use?
We know Transport Infrastructure Ireland is aware of most of these issues and that the NTA and Department of Transport are looking at the issue of removing the requirement for flashing beacons.
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