Dublin City plans low-quality shared path as part of Dodder Greenway “Pathfinder” project

— Shared path on Beaver Row will not even connect to the soon-to-be-opened greenway between Donnybrook and Ballsbridge.

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan had said that Pathfinder projects were to “demonstrate a pathway to achieving climate goals”, but the latest project in Ryan’s own constituency is a low-quality shared path on what is supposed to be a primary cycle route.

...I'm sorry to disrupt you while you're reading this article, but without messages like this, IrishCycle.com's reader-funded journalism won't survive. With 676k views so-far this year, it's not just "avid cyclists" that this website reaches. But the number of subscribers is around 0.6% of readers. This large gap between readers/subscribers is standard for non-paywall reader-supported journalism, but IrishCycle's journalism needs more support. Don't delay, support monthly or yearly today. Now, back to the article...

The Dodder Greenway Pathfinder project has been split into a number of separate parts, the latest section to go to public consultation is 800 metres along Beaver Row and Beach Hill Road between Donnybrook Road to Clonskeagh Road.

Public consultation on the project is to run from today, November 2nd until December 8th. The project outline shows that the outline design has been ready since Q2 2023, public Consultation is now taking place, and this is planned to be followed by planning and detailed design in Q1 2024 and scheme construction in Q3 2024.

Despite the lofty “transformational” nature of the Pathfinder programme, there is also no plan as part of this project for dedicated space for cycling on Anglesea Bridge — which currently has seven (7) traffic lanes, with cycle lanes just painted within two of the seven lanes.

The project drawings show the northern cycle track on Beaver Road starting after a slip turn which provides access into Beaver Road including the bus garage. Slip turns are not recommended because of the increased risk to people walking and cycling. The greenway which is nearly finished ends just north of the opposite side of the Anglesea Bridge.

The drawings note that the Donnybrook Road link is a part of the “BusConnects scheme by others”. The National Transport Authority is responsible for allocating national funding for walking and cycling projects and councillors have complained that the authority is also blocking walking and cycling improvements on BusConnect core routes.

The BusConnect core routes — the infrastructure part of BusConnects — have been submitted to An Bord Pleanála and could take years before they are ready for construction.

Project drawings

No measurements have been provided on any of the drawings for the project. This follows recent projects where it has been shown that Dublin City Council has provided extra wide traffic lanes beside sub-standard width cycle tracks.

IrishCycle.com has asked the council for the reason behind the lack of measurements this morning, but no reply has been received ahead of this article being published.

A section of Beaver Row will be made one-way for motorists, but the majority of the proposed route on both Beaver Road and Beach Hill Road will be a shared footpath-like surface alongside the carriageway.

The southbound unidirectional cycle track at the northern end of Beaver Row ends less than 100 metres after it starts. At the junction of Beach Hill Avenue — at this point, people cycling are expected to join shared footpath-like surfaces and cross to the shared path using two shared crossings:

Such shared paths are advised against in both national and international design guidance which notes they are disliked by users both on foot and on bike.

The newly published Cycle Design Manual outlines that “Shared facilities should be avoided in busy urban areas with high flows of pedestrians and/or cyclists because they result in a reduced quality of service for both modes. Although instances of actual conflict may be rare, interactions between people moving at different speeds can be perceived to be unsafe and inaccessible, particularly by pedestrians. This adversely affects the comfort of both pedestrians and cyclists.” A similar warning was contained in the previous manual.

In the next section of the route, the shared path will run along the riverside while car parking will be formalised on the building side outside the houses.

There is currently a missing section of footpath opposite the planned shared path and, because of this and the layout chosen by the council, pedestrians walking along the route will have to use the shared path or walk on the road. There is no priority given to pedestrians at both ends of the gap in the footpath.

In the project drawings, the general traffic lane along this section takes up half or more of the available width without eating into the green area which would likely require a retaining wall.

The available width on this section is around 8 metres — this suggests the carriageway is being kept extra wide at somewhere between 3.5 to 4 metres or possibly wider.

This is in line with other recent Dublin City Council projects where motorists were given more space than needed compared to the general width of traffic lanes on projects such as Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council’s Coastal Mobility Route.

The DCC / DLRCC boundary shown below is the Dublin City Council / Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council boundary. The city council is completing part of the route on behalf of the county council.

As is also common with cycle route projects, no apparent access is being provided between the shared path and the workplaces and leisure facilities on the opposite side of the road:

Despite the narrow nature of the shared path the council has given priority to retaining centre-of-the-road hatching and short turning lanes into the businesses of the road:

The project’s south end at Clonskeagh Road is part of one of the busiest commuter cycle routes in the country.

The routes join with footpath-like surfaces with no clear way for people cycling on the Clonskeagh Road route to join the new route:

8 comments

  1. Why would anyone want to cycle in a position where you have to constantly dodge vulnerable pedestrians AND have to keep stopping to allow cars to turn left at higher priority?

    Consider the shared cycling space on Drumcondra Road Lower in both directions, assuming it’s not changed much in the past 10 years or so since I used it. Pedestrians are not robots or boxes on conveyor belts, and therefore are apt to suddenly wander left or right, not noticing that they’ve inadvertently stepped into the path of a bicycle. It might be someone distracted while chatting, or a child blissfully unaware of traffic, or a dog on a leash suddenly darting out.
    That shared path is also interrupted repeatedly by left turns from the main street into narrow roads with poor visibility and cars have priority. Cyclists following the shared route have to come to a dead stop and cross like pedestrians.

    The solution is not to expect pedestrians to constantly be on the lookout for fast moving bicycles approaching from behind, but to build segregated infrastructure that’s safer for everyone — as long as merge and exit points are clear and well designed.

    Failing that, I’d prefer to just stick to cycling on the road where cars don’t have priority to cut across me into those left turns, and I don’t have to worry about hurting a pedestrian.

    Reply
  2. With no clear marking people wandering left and right is a recipe for accidents for sure – dogs on long leads, groups taking up full width of path, fast electric bikes and scooters etc.,

    No mention of street/path lighting either.

    Reply
  3. About the link to the greenway, I expect many people on bikes will cross the pedestrian bridge, but it’s much to narrow to be considered an official route.

    What’s the purpose of hatching in the centre of the road, in general?

    Reply
    • The pedestrian bridge has a pole on the middle of the entrances so cargo bikes can’t really go through it. Agree it’s super narrow. A bike and a pedestrian can’t pass each other on it.

      Reply
  4. I now cycle through UCD via the Beech Park entrance to get to the coast – it’s unclear if the cycle path down beaver row is segregated? If so, this will make turning into Beech Park to get to UCD really hard, and also make it hard to get out.

    Reply
  5. What a bodge of a design!
    I try not to use Beaver Road as it is so cycling-hostile. This scheme will do nothing for me as it retains parking alongside the cottages and so has to make us of a shared two-way path. Road authorities are told repeatedly that neither pedestrians nor bike users wish to share space.
    No details about tie-in to Dodder greenway at Anglesa bridge.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.