Rural cycle paths or greenways should have priority over most rural side roads

Comment & Analysis: There’s a long-standing line of thinking that rural roads should be designed with motorists having priority. But there’s no solid reason why rural cycle paths or greenways should not have priority over most rural side roads.

Despite councils still going against it, guidance Transport Infrastructure Ireland already outlines that such cycle routes should have priority over driveways. But there’s no reason this shouldn’t extend to most rural side roads, especially when it comes to more minor roads.

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It’s often said that even Dutch cycle paths don’t have priority in rural areas. But, in reality, this often is not the case unless priority needs to be removed from the cycle path for good reason. As with all cycling designs in the Netherlands, there are also regional differences.

New fast interurban cycle routes, aka “bicycle highways”, nearly always have priority over even perpendicular crossings of minor rural roads. I’m not talking about those types of routes, but the principle is the same — if we want to build up interurban or rural-to-urban cycling, then cycling needs to be given a higher level of priority.

Here are just a few examples from the Netherlands which are normal rural cycle paths:

This is the satellite view of one design:

It’s at this point that some people might be saying something like, our rural roads are different…. my first response to that is cycle paths are more likely to be built along similar rural roads and to say that, in the Netherlands, priority is also often maintained for cycle paths over side roads in rural areas with more confined spaces and poorer sightlines:

Where there’s a reason that cyclists should not have priority, the crossing point should still be clearly marked, like this example:

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