Comment & Analysis: After just publishing a briefing on cycle paths at bus stops, images of a new BusConnect bus stop in Dundrum were tweeted out by a member of the public yesterday — at this stage, there are only two things I can think of, (1) the NTA’s BusConnect team don’t care or (2) don’t understand what they are doing. I’m not sure which is worse.
The shared surface design used in Dundrum is in stark contrast to Liffey Valley BusConnects design with traffic lights across narrowed cycle tracks and non-forgiving 90-degree kerbs.
This contrast isn’t explained by project-by-project differences. Rather it was baked into the Preliminary Design Guidance Booklet for BusConnects which IrishCycle.com reported on last year. These contracts can also be seen in BusConnects projects which have gone forward for planning approval.
What do I mean when I ask: Do they even know what they are doing? The Dundrum design which is a real-world example of the narrow BusConnect bus stop design, makes no sense on so many levels. Not only because the approach is so sharply contradictory compared to the narrowed and unforgiving kerb design, but the misuse of tactile paving slabs makes no sense.
This location isn’t likely to be a busy bus stop but that doesn’t excuse the poor design and the NTA plans to use this design at busier locations along BusConnects route. Often because it’s the easier solution than providing the space needed for a better design or choosing a better location for a bus stop.
Tactile paving slabs are vital indicators for people with sight issues and those who are blind — different slabs let people know where where’s a crossing of a road or a cycle track, a shared area, steps, or other hazards.
The Irish guidance is lacking or not very accessible on the use of the slabs, and internationally such slabs are often misused. But the NTA’s BusConnects team are claiming to be acutely aware of the needs of vulnerable pedestrians, yet, they are mixing cycling and walking and misusing tactile paving.
Just to be clear: The IrishCycle.com position is that mixing cycling and walking should be avoided, especially along streets and roads. But where it’s being done, the tactile paving should be correct, and not used in ways which are confusing and unhelpful.
This is the approach to the new Dundrum bus stop — there is no discernable difference between the cycle path and footpath level where both meet. So, this is where the shared space warning tactile paving should be located.
I’m not sure how anybody could look at this and think this is the proper use of tactile paving:
(1) the slabs on the footpath are designed to warn visually impaired pedestrians that they are entering shared space, these are not for crossings of cycle tracks.
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(2) There’s no warning from the bus stop side for people exiting buses,
(3) The slabs on the cycle track are designed to warn visually impaired pedestrians not to walk on the cycle track but the footpath and bus boarding area curve and the level surface is level, so, there’s nothing to stop blind people from walking straight into the cycle track. The paving slabs used are also the incorrect slabs for across a cycle track.
Just as with the contradictions with the Clontarf to City Centre project, I don’t think anybody should be allowed to design and build this type of infrastructure and claim they have pedestrian priority and safety in the front of their minds.