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North Circular Road interim walking and cycling scheme good but not long enough

Comment & Analysis: Dublin City Council are now out to public consultation on the North Circular Road Walking and Cycling Interim Scheme (drawings also below) — it’s only around 1km of the total North Circular route which will be just over 5km.

In terms of widths and continual (for its distance), it seems like one of the best schemes Dublin City Council has planned. See more on the details below, but it’s just not long enough.

Paris, London, Eindhoven, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Cork, and some other cities have various levels of success in using two-way cycle paths on one side to allow for continuous cycle routes. Dublin City has been avoiding this tool in its toolbox for some time.

There are long-running debates about the use of two-way cycle paths on one side of a street, especially when there’s cycling provision on the other side. The North Circular Road is an example however where two-way is needed if the council really wants to provide for cycling for all.

If we’re ruling out mass removal of trees and footpath reduction for the North Circular Road (and we should be), the two options are (1) narrow and stop-start infrastructure or (2) two-way cycle paths. Even if there was no pinch points.

This is the reality. It’s a narrow enough route and unlikely the southside, there’s no parallel road for any of its length.

This is the council’s map of the route and the interim:

Even with a two-way cycle path, some notable steps would need to be taken including (1) a one-way system to get past the pinch points at the Luas (formally railway) bridges in Phibsborough and (2) a short cycling detour to get by the pinch-point where the North Circular meets Dorset Street:

I can understand why Dublin City Council might not be ready for a one-way system something like this quite yet… so…

With the use of two-way cycle paths, they could at least stretch the short-term project from Phibsborough to the Clontarf route (2km) or to the Docklands 2.7km.

This kind of larger connection would not just make it safer and more attractive for people cycling along the route, it would also connect more people to the Clontarf Route, the Royal Canal Route, and onto the quays and the Grand Canal Route etc. It would start a bit more of a network effect in the area.

North Circular Road Walking and Cycling Interim Scheme

As I said above, in terms of widths and continual (for its distance), it seems like one of the best schemes Dublin City Council has planned. But some things should be added at this stage and not to be left to the prominent scheme.

Pedestrian crossings are badly needed at some arms of the junctions, ie across the North Circular Road to the east of Belvedere Place, east of Fitzgibbons Street/Emmet Street, and at Portland Row/Summer Hill. There should also be raised pedestrian crossings at least some of the non-signalised side streets, especially the left slip into Belvedere Place.

There’s a few locations where the width of the cycle track is narrower than it should be, these fall into three toes:

  • (1) a few places where it would be easy to increase the width, especially around some buildouts where the build-out could just be smaller and nobody would notice or be any worse off.
  • (2) at junctions where the difficult decision should be made to remove one of the turning lanes and/or traffic islands to provide space for cycling; and:
  • (3) a few places where it might be too hard to make extra width for now, but the width along these sections aren’t as bad as at junctions and aren’t not as important as providing that extra space at junctions.

Dorset St Lower to Belvedere Road:

As with the example below shown in more detail, there’s no need for the loading bay to be inside the cycle track — this kind of gap in the segregation is low in this project but should be avoided at loading bays too:

The Active Travel section has promised nicer looking quick-build routes. So, can planters and temporary or otherwise kerbs etc be used instead of an excessive amount of hatching and bollards?

Where the cycle track crosses between the footpath and the bus stop, this is a crossing point. There’s no logical reason to make it into a shared section of path, which are disliked by people walking and cycling.

The shared space at bus stops is a bad idea, these should be marked as crossings to make it clear to everyone.

The share space tactile tiles are a hazard generally for cyclists and even more so just on the top of raised crossing points. Think about what they’d be like in icy conditions we just had or the wet conditions we often have. These kind of measures are well-meaning but increase rather than decrease the chances of a collision or somebody falling from their bike.

Belvedere Road to Portland Street North:

This cycle track is just way too narrow and reworking of the junction and reducing/removal of the traffic island is needed — this kind of poor junction detail has an impact of the usability and safety of the route:

And this, on the other side of the same traffic island, is just — I’m sorry — comical:

Where the width of a cycle track is less than 2 metres wide, bollards do not need to be put right up to the cycle track like this:

Portland Street North to Russell Street

Along a generally good section, there’s no reason for the cycle track to bend out for the loading bay:

The loading bay should be to the outside of the cycle track — the carriageway can be narrowed to 6m to allow for a buffer between the cycle track and the loading bay:

Russell Street to Charles Street Great:

The general design of the junctions, especially the larger ones as below needs to be addressed — because of the way the streets intersect, the junctions can be very long

With some of the longer junctions, it looks like there’s scope to protect the cycle tracks more than are. 

This is an example of where the cycle track could be wider and segregated at/after the junction:

Charles Street Great to Rutland Place North:

The exit from Great Charles Street should be reduced to one lane shared for turning in both directions: 

Are all of these central turning lanes needed?

North Richmond Street is a clear example of a junction in need of narrowing but the bollards are to stop before the junction?

Rutland Place North to Portland Row:

There’s no reason here for the cycle track to be under 2 metres wide here:

It’s just to line up with the unwillness to remove one of three lanes at the junction:

There should be heavier segration at points like this on junctions, not bollards which are being broken all over the city:

1.5 metres is below the standard of where the city should be aiming:

Portland Row to Empress Place:

The north/east side of Portland Row will be an enforcement challenge but understandably cannot be segregated due the the number of driveways. This is one of many issues that would be easier to fix with a two-way cycle path on the south side of the street:

Again, a shared space when it should be a raised crossing:

This drawings and cross-section drawings don’t match:

The tie-in with the Clontarf route shows up the Clontarf route more than the

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