A new road traffic sign is to be introduced in Ireland to allow the ‘Bicycle Street‘ concept — where bicycles are indicated to have priority — to be implemented here.
‘Bicycle streets’ — or, as the report calls them, ‘Cycle Streets’ — are streets where there is a focus on cycling priority. The concept is used in a number of countries including Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and others.
The concept is usually applied to quiet streets, for example on a route parallel street to a main road or on a service street to the side of the main road. In all cases, motorists still have access to the street.
Street designers in the Netherlands often warn that bicycle streets can be really tricky to get right and signage and speed limits are only a small part of that — they say that both the volume and speed of motor traffic need to be designed to be low for the concept to work.
Different rules apply in different countries, ranging from some banning motorists from overtaking bicycles to others, such as the Netherlands, having formal legal rules at all.
The first official mention of the proposed new sign is in the Speed Limit Review 2023 report, which was widely reported on recently but the focus was on the reduction in speed limits on some types of roads.
The Speed Limit Review report said: “This is an urban road or street where specific traffic rules apply to allow for the priority and enhance the safety of cyclists. In such situations, cars would be seen as ‘guests’ with motorised traffic movement limited and no overtaking of cyclists. The following signs illustrate the type of signs to be considered.”
The report added: “It is recommended that where Cycle Streets are provided a speed limit of 30km/h should apply.”
The following image is an indication of the proposed sign to be used which is shown in the report:
The sign is the suggested sign which is a possible modification to the UN Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals, a convention which aims to have as similar as possible designs for road signs across different countries which was set in 1968. Ireland has not signed up to the Vienna Convention.
The new sign was developed as part of a range of measures that seeks to unify the legal definition of bicycles, the definitions for types of cycling infrastructure across countries and the signs associated with them. Currently, there is a range of signs used for bicycle streets in different countries (see below).
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Bicycle streets are also a feature of the new Cycle Design Manual. The manual explains that bicycle streets are shared streets are suitable in low traffic single lane environments where cyclists take precedence over vehicular traffic. The key feature from a cycling perspective is that cyclists “take the lane” in line with vehicles.”
The manual adds: “Cycle streets are access-only streets for motor vehicles which also serve as a primary route within the cycle network. A cycle street should have a two-way traffic flow of less than 400 pcus [passenger car unit] in the peak hour and, ideally, volumes of cycling should exceed motor traffic levels, to provide cyclists with a level of comfort comparable to that provided by a traffic-free route.”
Bicycle street signs from different countries: Which is your favourite?