The Clontarf to City Centre cycle path was too far advanced to include a new standard for red cycle paths and red asphalt was never a consideration of the design team, Dublin City Council has said.
Continuous red asphalt is what is used in most of the cycling-friendly cities in the Netherlands. It is seen as the best approach to allow a higher level of legibility aimed at awareness for all road users including pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists. The approach has now been adopted by the National Transport Authority, but only set as a standard and then a requirement after the Clontarf route started construction.
The National Transport Authority issued a standard on red asphalt — Specification of Red Surface Course for Use on Off-Road Urban Cycleways — as interim technical advice in April 2023.
A distinctive colouring on the surfacing on cycle paths is seen as a safety measure internationally and the best practice is to use coloured asphalt for longevity and improved surface quality over other options such as paint or surface coverings. Red is the most common colour used, although some cities use blue or green.
Previously the coloured surface coatings at junctions suffered from quality issues relating to how these coatings were often poorly applied or maintained. The asphalt standard is for use throughout projects and not just at junctions, where red colouring is currently mainly applied.
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The new Cycle Design Manual — only finalised in the second half of last year — has made red surfacing mandatory on all new segregated cycle facilities the requirement to seek a relaxation of the standard if councils want to choose a different way of surfacing their cycle paths.
IrishCycle.com asked Dublin City Council a set of questions about the surfaces on the Clontarf route and the council said that red asphalt was never part of their consideration.
A Dublin City Council spokesperson said: “The Scheme was designed in 2019 and the tender completion was undertaken in 2021. To replace the works specification with a red asphalt it would be a considerable change to the Works Requirements.”
“Further, the scheme design was multi-disciplinary, and detailed consideration was given to the overall aesthetic. Red surfacing was never part of this consideration, except across major junctions. This red surfacing is to be provided to the track at the major junctions along the Scheme as part of the finishing works,” the spokesperson said.
Asked in December about the quality of the surface of the in-bound cycle track, the council said: “There may be localised sections of the inbound track surfacing which are not complete, but generally over the 2.45km of track which is currently open it is the final surface. There are areas where works remain to be completed, especially in the vicinity of signalised junctions, which cannot be completed until the full junction is ready for operation. Areas of temporary surfacing shall be addressed during the snagging works which are expected to be undertaken through 2024.”
“The surface / running course of the cycle-track in the main was machine-laid,” the spokesperson said.
In an answer to a follow up question this week, a spokesperson for the city council said: “There have been areas where the cycle track had to be laid by hand due to the ironworks, access issues or tree roots. 90% of Binder Course has been laid by machine. 100% of Surface Course has been laid by machine.”