Grange Rd walking and cycling project has constraints but there’s no excuse for most issues

Comment & Analysis: The above image shows part of the Grange Road walking and cycling scheme in Rathfarnham, a project by South Dublin County Council. There have been claims that the project is the best the council could have designed given the constraints, but that claim does not really hold up.

It starts as a stepped cycle track, before cyclists and motorists are merged in a constrained section in the middle before becoming a stepped cycle track again and ending in a shared footpath — a mixture which is the worst of all worlds:

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There’s no doubt that most of the confined sections (between yellow brackets below) wouldn’t fit cycle tracks in both directions, but that’s not really true for outside the school. Why was it not chosen to include the cycle path outside a school of all places?

It’s a pedestrian project as well as a cycling scheme but this treatment outside the school isn’t really inviting for walking or cycling and this is off-peak:

One place there was definitely more space, but some really questionable decisions were made was at the northern end of the scheme where people walking and cycling were needlessly mixed by design:

This is poor for walking and cycling — it gets quite crowded at peak times:

Mixing walking and cycling here should be beyond what councils are building (regardless of when it was designed — projects are often built a few years after the main design work and a while after the detailed design):

Before the shared section is this enormous traffic lane and large footpath beside what should be seen as a bog standard-width cycle path:

The need for plastic bollards is a tell-tale sign a project should have been designed better.

There was no need for bollards here, there was space here for a ~1m buffer between the cycle path and the carriageway:

The traffic lane is about 4m wide — away from the corner, it only needs 3m:

The cycle track could be a bit wider too, which generally might be forgivable but — as said — both the footpath and carriageway are extra wide:

From a few times cycling and walking around, it seems there’s a pedestrian desire line that is not facilitated….

Or people are avoiding the pedestrian crossing at the junction because the waiting times and the whole junction design is focused on moving cars:

The side road treatments don’t include continuous footpaths but include two nice sets of kerbs/ramps up:

At least some of this double ramp effect is using some standard kerbs:

Towards the northern end of the scheme, there are more shared footpath sections — the sign is turned the wrong way here and nicely located as a hazard too close to the traffic light signal.

There’s a huge amount of space here for a better transition:

This shared path leads into an old two-way cycle path which is in need of resurfacing but hasn’t (yet?) been resurfaced and then onto a poor junction treatment and then a shared footpath again — around the end of this clip is where this project ends:

Important context here is to the left at the end of the last clip is the start of a mini-urban greenway which opened in 2014 (https://irishcycle.com/2014/06/23/urban-mini-greenway-opened-in-rathfarnham/) and which will link over the SDCC/DLRCC bounty onto the DLR Connector project (https://irishcycle.com/2021/11/23/new-east-west-walking-and-cycle-route-to-link-nutgrove-to-dun-laoghaire/).

The planning designs were improved on for the middle section and completed south section of the project at the detailed design stage.

And maybe it was the correct call not to knock down a load of trees and to retain the two-way cycle path?

South of Park Ave (where the greenway and future link to the DLR Connecter are) the best course of action would be to upgrade and link up the existing access/service streets to a sort of “bicycle street” design down as far as Taylor’s Lane:

The previously approved design for south of Park Ave is decent enough but overly elaborate, and includes unnecessary cutting of trees and expense when the service/access road should be utilised:

But to link up with the greenway, DLR Connector and the access/service streets, a bit of a radical solution that doesn’t include mixing cycling with cars and buses is needed here.

Unthinkable things like putting the northbound traffic lane through a small section of the park — it’d mainly be via the car park.

But while an eyelid is hardly blinked for car park expansion in parks and green areas across Ireland, this suggestion is probably too radical.

On what has been built, this image doesn’t do my point justice but the cycle path around this bus stop is sharper than it needs to be:

Like the traffic lights across bus stops at Liffey Valley and planned on the #C2CC, one stop on this project has provision for light signals 🚦 — see the service access points and outline of a circle where a traffic light pole hole has been (temporarily?) covered:

As with many projects, this is an improvement over what went before it. There’s some mixed views locally but most people I’ve heard agree it’s an improvement but that it could have been better. That’s sadly a continuing trend.

Most of the central confined section is close enough to the best that could be done in this case where the road has a bus route, the problems are mostly elsewhere. There are few real excuses for getting most of the issues so badly wrong.

2 comments

  1. The median cobble-set paving is clearly not “rough” enough: see black VW Passat at 30 sec mark on 1st video. The cobble-sets are supposed to deter drivers from overtaking cyclists i.e. drive behind the cyclist.

    The cycle track bus stop bypass lanes have positive elements i.e. non-adoption of full suite of crazy anti-cyclist features that the NTA is pushing elsewhere, however there is an issue with not respecting cyclist desire lines: cyclists will generally take the path of least resistance and in the case of the bus stop pictured above, the easiest route is straight through the bus stop platform. If the cycle track geometry was designed properly the cycle track would transition smoothly through this area with large radius curvature (e.g. R40m). The cycle track bypass lane at the Nutgrove Ave junction is even worse, to the extent that cycling on the road is preferable.

    The wide expanse of concrete / blacktop pictured with orange bollards above looks bleak – a landscaped verge could have gone in here with space taken from footpath and traffic lane.

    Failure to connect to the Grange Rd to Barton Rd East Greenway is a bit of a cop-out.

    Reply
  2. I got knocked down here about 2 weeks after the scheme opened. The driver thought that a raised cycle track counts as a footpath and that cyclists should stop. Thankfully I was uninjured, and her insurance sided with me. It’s by far an improvement on what was there, but from what I hear from the parents of children in the schools nearby, it’s the car drivers not understanding what to do at raised junctions has caused problems. I cycle this every day, and the shared space at the north junction is not good. However, I do think that since this junction is the beginning of the BusConnects corridor, the current junction will change and they designed this as more of an interim scheme.

    Reply

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