Automated bollards on Limerick’s South Circular Road to allow for car parking and two-way cycling on shared surface

— Bollards to limit motor traffic to allow a combination of car parking and two-way cycling.
— Car access between Summerville Ave and Laurel Hill Ave only for holders of electric tags.

— South Circular Rd to be two-way between Quin St and Laurel Hill Ave for access.
— Refined plan was circulated to councillors on Friday evening.

Limerick’s South Circular Road project is to include automated bollards according to a draft modified plan drawn up by council officials to comply with a vote from a majority of metro area councillors.

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The Limerick Cycling Campain said that changes amount to “an incredibly complex scheme to retain a small number of on-road parking spaces” and that they will be seeking clarity about some of the detail and still have concerns.

The amendment was proposed by Cllr Daniel Butler (FG) and seconded by Cllr Dan McSweeney (FG), the latter of who said they wanted to offer flexibility to allow officials to decide on the details of the traffic arrangements.

The amendment was passed with 13 councillors in favour and 8 against. At least most of those voting against the amendment wanted the two-way cycle path and for parking to be removed, as per the council’s original plan.

The plan outlines how access to the South Circular Road between Summerville Ave and Laurel Hill is to be limited to local access only via automated bollards placed across South Circular Road just north of its junction with Summerville Ave.

Article continues below images

Access beyond the bollards will only be for holders of electronic tags, this is expected to include residents with parking permits and emergency services.

South Circular Road between Laurel Hill Ave and Quin Street will be made two-way for local access into Laurel Hill Ave, including the schools on the street.

The amendment by Cllr Butler and Cllr McSweeney included the proposal to have a “permeability measure the north of the South Circular Road / Summerville Ave to allow local traffic only” and the “introduction of a shared surface between Summerville Ave and Laurel Hill Ave with the reinstatement of car parking.”

Because of extra costs and complications associated with automated bollards, this type of filtered permeability is often reserved for political impasses like the South Circular Road project.

Article continues below video showing examples of automated bollards

On Monday, Tara Flanagan, a senior executive engineer with Limerick City and County Council, said: “…from Quinn Street to Summerville Ave would be a shared surface [between cycling and local car access] but the numbers [of cars] would be sufficiently reduced by the filter at Summerville Ave so that it’s a safe travel mode for the cyclists.”

While it’s a new concept for Ireland, in the Netherlands the combination of cycle paths and low-traffic streets are often joined up to form continuous cycle routes.

Conor Buckley, chairperson of the Limerick Cycling Campaign said: “It remains to be seen if this will work for outgoing cyclists. It’s unclear how the retractable bollards will work for cycling. How many cars will have access to the bollard? In order to facilitate on-street parking, there will have to be stringent restrictions on the cars that get tags to access the street.” 

“It’s certainly not our preferred scheme? The original scheme was supported by Joe Leddin, James Collins and Elisa O’Donovan — they showed a clear vision for how people need to move around our city with an eye towards creating a liveable city,” he said. 

Buckley said: “Cllr Butler’s amendment is going to have more of an impact on residents that are reliant on cars. It seems like an incredibly complex scheme to retain a small number of on-road parking spaces, especially when residents on this stretch have some of the largest driveways in the core of the city centre.”

“There is no protection outside for cyclists at the Redemptorists Church. The newly created two-way road between Quin St and Laurel Hill Ave lacks any sort of proper design at this stage and raises significant questions about the safety for children cycling to the schools here,” he said.

Buckley said that the retractable bollard managing traffic between Summerville Ave and Laurel Hill Ave will be costly, and will have ongoing costs over time.

On the other filters, he said: “There is no detail on the filter on Ballinacurra road. More detail is needed on both these before we can properly assess whether they will provide the reduction in traffic to ensure a shared surface will work. The Fennessey junction at Ashbourne Ave/New St is still unexplained. More clarity is needed to know how this local access-only section will work for all road users.”

On Henry St changes, he added: “The changes here that arose from the part 8 consultation process were the most significant. They came about as a result of the Limerick Cycling Campaign engaging with businesses and residents to find a solution that worked for everyone. This meant that we had all stakeholders pushing together for a change that will benefit everyone. The last-minute Fine Gael amendment that was passed on Monday did not have that same spirit of cooperation and we feel that it may end with a section of road between Summerville Ave and Laurel Hill Ave that will not deliver for anyone.”

Full description of the route:

  • The route will start at the Crescent Shopping Centre and cross the bridge over the N18 as planned as a two-way cycle path up to the Ballinacurra Road junction with the South Circular Road.
  • The junction will be changed so that motorists can only exit from the South Circular Road into the Ballinacurra Road in any direction, but not enter the South Circular Road.
  • Just beyond the Ballinacurra Road junction as far as the Ashbourne Ave / New Street junction it will be a two-way shared surface with mostly but not exclusively local traffic. There will be bicycle logos and traffic calming along this section.
  • From Ashbourne Ave / New Street to Summerville Ave there will be one-way motor traffic access northbound and a two-way cycle path.
  • Just north of Summerville Ave bollards on South Circular Road will restrict access to fob/tag holders only.
  • From Summerville Ave to Laurel Hill Ave it will be a shared surface between the limited number of motorists and people cycling.
  • Between Laurel Hill Ave and Quin street will be two-way to allow for access into and out of Laurel Hill Ave and the schools located there. This will also be a shared surface for cycling.
  • At Quin Street the two-way cycle path will start again and run for the rest of the South Circular Road to Henry Street and onto Mill Lane where it will end at the junction with The Bishops Quay.
  • More of Henry Street is to be made one-way to retain more parking outside shops, this change was looked for by local businesses. This section will include a two-way cycle path as per the last point.

Drawings circulated to councillors:

An image outlining an overview of the main arrangements in the plan:

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  1. Not sure we should be using the term “shared surface” to describe roads with no cycling provision beyond painted bike stencils. By that measure all roads bar motorways are shared surfaces.

    • I’m not sure if it’s the same thing but in Dundrum village, when cycling towards town, you are on a shared lane with cars. Sometimes it can be very unpleasant as drivers don’t realise that it is a shared surface, despite the painted bikes on the road. They drive right up your bum and point at the contra flow cycle lane going up the hill, saying you should be cycling in it. It makes for an unpleasant cycle sometimes. I feel like I’m being used as a form of human traffic calming as the lane is too narrow even for a close pass. Maybe it will just take time for behaviour to change.

  2. It sounds like a solid solution to a tricky problem with good precedents from abroad shown in the video.

    It also opens up a precedent to solve many other urban design permeability challenges around our cities.

    I like the way that the Dutch have used this to compartmentilised their neighbourhoods to prevent rat running, but still allow vehicular access to local residents over shared surfaces. Safety, permeability and happy residents in one shot!

  3. I regularly use Nutley Avenue to get between the nightmare roundabout on Ailesbury Road and Merrion Road. It’s only busy at school drop off / pick up times and is a joy to cycle. Bollarded at the Seafield Road end. It’s amazing how even 5 minutes on a quiet road calms the nervous system – and makes me realise how stressful most cycling in Dublin is, and how it doesn’t need to be that way.


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