Work on the Clontarf to City Centre cycling and bus priority project is progressing with a firmer outline of the inbound cycle route now visible.
The contractors, who are mainly working on one side of the road at a time, are expected to be moving from the east (inbound) side of the road to the west side (outbound) of the road by May.
To be clear: In all of the photos shown below, the final cycle path surface has yet to be laid and the route isn’t yet cyclable even in part.
On the sections which are less advanced, having a look into the open trench gives you an idea of the complications of installing a new water main (just about visible under and to the right of the red pipe) and working around a lot of utility services:
A number of the new bus stops are now largely in place. Central Area councillors were briefed late last year that traffic lights would be included to cross from the footpath over the cycle track to the bus stop. Utilities ducting and holes for the traffic light poles are in place.
Unlike the Liffey Valley BusConnects project, the Clontarf to City Centre bus stops are designed to have two, not four, traffic light poles.
The historic wall — the one which RTÉ presenter Joe Duffy was outraged about — has been rebuilt as planned all along:
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Cycle path widths
Some readers have pointed out that the cycle path seems narrow at sections. Of the sections of the route which IrishCycle.com looked at last week, the widths of the cycle paths varied from a little under 1.7 to 2 metres, with most sections accessible at crossings etc under 2m wide.
1.7-2 metres might seem wide by Irish standards, but at least 2m wide is the general recommendation internationally for the width of these types of unidirectional cycle paths. But, for how busy North Strand Road already was, the recommended width is above 2.2m.
For the level of cycling already on North Strand Road, the UK guidelines have a ‘desirable minimum width’ of 2.2m and the ‘Absolute minimum at constraints’ is 2m, while in the Netherlands the recommended width is 2.5-3m.
The Dutch widths quoted here are for cycle paths without mopeds and are older standards, the recommendation on widths has recently increased due to the rise of electric and cargo bikes. Dublin is already seeing a steady increase in cargo bike and electric bicycle use, and the S2S in Clontarf already attracts faster cyclists.
It would be unrealistic to expect 2m+ the whole way along the Clontarf route, but it’s surprising in other sections that not even 2m has been reached where there are no apparent width restraints. An overcrowded cycle might seem like a “nice problem to have”, but once cycle paths are segregated, design details are key to providing capacity, comfort and safety.
The nature of this route from Fairview into town means people cycling from three roads — the Malahide Road, Howth Road and the S2S route along the coast — were merging into one route. The already-built section of the Royal Canal Greenway means it connects into the Docklands and onto the Grand Canal Cycleway, and it will connect to the North Circular Road route and the emerging cycle network within the city centre. It shouldn’t be long before we hear phrases such as it being a ‘victim of its own success’.
Factors narrowing the cycle path
The forgiving kerb to the outside edge of the path (see above) will help with the lower width of the cycle path, but factors which won’t include a 90-degree kerb on the inside edge, drainage for the bus lane interrupting the forgiving kerb (see below), and steel fencing placed too close to the cycle path along Fairview Park (see below).
The steal gate at Fairview Park has been placed uncomfortably close to the cycle track at a number of locations:
The bus lane drainage is visually and practically a strange feature of the design — these drains reduce the effective width of the cycle path and interrupts the forgiving kerb.
You could understand this design more at constrained sections of the route, but, generally, it’s not clear why the kerb between the cycle path and bus lane wasn’t made wider generally.
There’s various levels of progress at different sections of the route: