Comment & Analysis: Dublin City Council has a plan for a quick-build 1km section of the total North Circular Road route which totals 5km, back in December IrishCycle.com covered how the interim scheme is good but not long enough. It suffers from a common issue — only putting in cycle routes where there’s space without reconfiguring much else.
The previous article — North Circular Road interim walking and cycling scheme good but not long enough — outlined the idea of a two-way cycle path. How would this look?
This is the current layout at the junction of Infirmary Road (the start of what is the NCR half-ring) with Parkgate Street as shown on Google Street View — It’s 12m with the worst type of cycle lanes, just painted dashed lanes on one side, and, on the other side, a painted cycle lane that is within one of the turning lanes.
Here’s the satellite view:
And this is what it could look like linked with a revised Liffey Cycle Route:
Similarly, here’s the junction with the Phibsborough Road on satellite view:
And here’s what could fit if there was the will to make our streets safer, more attractive and more fit for climate action and getting people of all ages and abilities cycling — this also includes a previously suggested two-way cycle route from Ballymun to the city centre.
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It would not be required to build both together. But as said in the article suggesting the Ballymun to city centre route: It’s what a quick-build cycle route could look like if Dublin was ready for serious climate action. The blue lanes here are bus only and other bus priority measures would be needed along this route.
This is not just about cycling, it’s about an alternative approach to bus priority. The current BusConnects plans for Phibsborough include removing cycle lanes and reducing footpath widths in one of the most high-density areas in the country which is only set to grow in population size.
There would be the opportunity with this kind of layout to have more green space — I didn’t include that level of detail as this is a higher-level suggestion — much of the added-in areas of light grey (ie footpath and island space) could fit greenery as well as seating etc.
Different sections of the North Circular Road could fit different alignments but a two-way cycle path with traffic route changes (as detailed in the previous article and repeated below) is really the only way to fit in a continuous high-quality route.
This would be a cross-section on a narrower section of just 9m — this represents a pinch point but still allows for continuous segregation of the cycle path.
10m sections are an improvement and anything above that is even better:
Why a two-way cycle path?
As covered in the previous article: Paris, London, Eindhoven, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Cork, and some other cities have various levels of success in using two-way cycle paths on one side to allow for continuous cycle routes. Dublin City has used it in one or two locations but overall seems to be avoiding this tool in its toolbox for some time.
There are long-running debates about the use of two-way cycle paths on one side of a street, especially when there’s cycling provision on the other side. The North Circular Road is an example however where two-way is needed if the city really wants to provide for cycling for all.
If we’re ruling out mass removal of trees and footpath reduction for the North Circular Road (and we should be), the two options are (1) narrow and stop-start infrastructure or (2) two-way cycle paths. This is the reality. It’s a narrow enough road and unlikely the southside, there’s no parallel road for most of its length.
This is the council’s map of the route and the interim:
Even with a two-way cycle path, some notable steps would need to be taken including (1) a one-way system to get past the pinch points at the Luas (formally railway) bridges in Phibsborough and (2) a short cycle route detour to get by the pinch-point where the North Circular meets Dorset Street:
I can understand why Dublin City Council might not be ready for a one-way system something like this quite yet… so…
With the use of two-way cycle paths, they could at least stretch the short-term project from Phibsborough to the Clontarf route (2km) or to the Docklands 2.7km.
This kind of larger connection would not just make it safer and more attractive for people cycling along the route, it would also connect more people to the Clontarf Route, the Royal Canal Route, and onto the quays and the Grand Canal Route etc. It would start a bit more of a network effect in the area.
The question is: When or if Dublin will ever be ready for something like this?