Comment & Analysis: Tipperary County Council are currently planning a small project aimed at “active travel connectivity”along the R498 at Castlemeadows, Thurles, Co Tipperary… the question is is the connectivity up to scratch?
And there will be a lot of small schemes like this across the country… how many will get close to a high standard for walking and cycling?
It’s a small enough scheme but will provide links to second school, third level education institutes and sports grounds:
The widths of the planned cycle tracks are way too narrow at 1.5m when the aim should be 2m minimum for the width of unidirectional cycle tracks.
There’s a simple solution here, reduce the traffic lanes to 3 metres and then the cycle tracks can be around 1.75m — not ideal but better than 1.5m.
Combining those two widths into one 3m two-way path can make sense but only where there’s a wider plan — there’s no wider plan here.
The planned project will just link to the existing narrow cycle tracks on the circular relief road shown here and there’s no easy or obvious way to provide for a continuous cycle route into the centre of the town from here:
In reality 2m wide cycle tracks could be provided for along most of the project if quality was a priority:
A larger issue is that the crossings are far too offset from the roundabout — this is poor for walking and cycling priority and the design of the roundabout is poor for safety.
The crossings should be no more than about a car’s length from the roundabout circle and all of the crossings should be raised crossings.
As an aside: The crossings should also be parallel crossings, not zebra crossings — but this isn’t exactly the council’s fault as it’s one of many issues which transport Minister Eamon Ryan should be resolving with change to his Department’s traffic signs manual (and secondary legislation if needed). The new Cycle Manual will need/will be best with this kind of backing anyway. If the UK Department of Transport can introduce parallel crossings 2019, why is it still in question that we need them?
The current design is that cycle track leagues with the service/access street to the top right of the roundabout — why would the council change this?
This section of the cycle track is just going to get parked on:
The new bus layout shown here is for Coláiste Mhuire Co-Ed — how are students supposed to access the southbound cycle track (shown to the left here), towards the town centre?
Are they supposed to cycle back towards the roundabout to get to the short distance of southbound cycle track? That doesn’t seem convenient, logical or in any way prioritising walking and cycling:
This is the planned south end of the project — the existing crossing on the main road and the planned crossing on the side road are both far too off-set:
It’s still a huge improvement to the current situation:
But the crossings are far too offset — there’s zero need for a crossing like this to be this far from the desire line for a T-junction, and the existing crossing should be replaced by zebra crossings closer to the revised junction.
The rules allow zebras to be placed within 5m of a junction and, in design terms, a car’s length is all that’s needed.
If the council are going to offset the crossing that much, then why not include a mini-roundabout design as fairly successfully implemented at this location in Skerries?
This design also provides better accessibility across the main road and makes things safer by slowing traffic down. The raised crossings also help.
Back in Thurles, the CycleConnects network plan shows the on-ward connects towards Thurles town centre and the train station as being along the roads here:
Are one-way systems going to be planned in the future? Or will the cycling provision be mixed with heavy traffic?