Cycling should be enabled in Dublin without defaulting to shared spaces, and the city needs to build for the future not current levels of cycling

Comment & Analysis: Often, pedestrian and cycling route projects just end at dangerous junctions. You could say it’s part of the nature of things when building an active travel network. So, it’s great to see that the Kilmainham to Thomas Street project includes the redesign of the junction between Suir Road and Davitt Road. The junction redesign will make things safer overall and more accessible for pedestrians especially, but the cycling provision is confusing and the design needs upgrading before it is implemented.

Before going into the details, it’s worth taking a step back.

The Kilmainham to Thomas Street route and the Grangegorman to Thomas St route should be seen as the one route. It will connect to James’s Hospital campus, the TU Dublin third-level campus, Smithfield, Stoneybatter, the Liberties, Drimnagh, and the still-developing Liffey Cycle Route.

It will be made up of a combination of cycle paths, a shared low-traffic street at one end, and a shared path along the Luas tracks at the southern end. As the map below shows, there are still a few sections yet to be built:

The junction links routes which are marked as primary and secondary routes in the Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network Plan.

The continuation of the Kilmainham to Thomas Street route west to the Grand Canal Greenway between Blackhorse and Adamstown is just 1.4km, but it’s surprisingly a project rarely talked about when it would link the Kilmainham to Thomas Street to Adamstown over 10km away, which will soon enough be linked way beyond the city.

Given the constraint on the south bank of the canal (including a narrow canal path and no space between Luas stops and buildings), the obvious route for the cycle route is along existing paths and access low-traffic access roads on the north bank of the canal. It would require the relatively small issue of replacing some barriers with bollards. The main infrastructure would be resurfacing and bridges at both ends.

A walking and cycling bridge across the canal with a path crossing the tram tracks at grade seems like the most workable solution here, but this is a longer-term project.

As mentioned above, the south bank towpath is too narrow, and expanding it would be costly and environmentally sensitive.

What’s planned for now is quite an improvement on the existing layout, a design which in inaccessible in many directions and encourages speed which is clearly unsafe:

For the location, it is a large four-way signalised junction without any pedestrian crossings:

The plan for the main junction is to turn it into a T-junction with two side roads out of the main junction:

The Slievenamon Road will also meet Dolphin Road as a T-junction with a bus gate for the outbound direction with signalisation in one direction to allow buses to exit:

You should be able to easily use cycle paths from A to B and then onto C or D here, but the set-up doesn’t allow it, and if cycling from C to A, the choices seem to be to cross three lanes of traffic or go the whole way to D first:

There seems to be a gap in the cycle track to allow people to cycle in/out at the junction, but crossing from the top cycle path here into Slievenamon Road seems a bit too messy given how busy this road is and the layout provided:

A similar design is provided across from Grand Canal View — the crossing of three lanes of traffic here so close to a junction seems to be a problematic idea, to say the least:

The layout doesn’t allow for movement in some directions, but much of it is not intuitive and even convoluted to go in some directions — if you glance at it, it looks like a good high level of protection:

Until you realise that many of the directions such as A to C (see image above) are not well catered for without taking convoluted routes around the junction, and there’s also no “stacking space” for bicycles at the junction in any direction. If used correctly as currently designed, people cycling would block cycle paths while waiting to turn.

The reversal of the direction of the two way cycle path is confusing and should be avoided.

What’s the solution? Here’s the official drawing alongside an unofficial alternative drawing. It is based on the official drawing but is not official — it is just a rough sketch of what’s possible at this junction. 

The advantages and some of the thinking points on the alternative:

  • Removal of shared footpaths.
  • Signals for the Luas, pedestrian crossings, the cycling crossings at the main junction (this does not include the bicycle light over the tracks), and can run all at once — this means the junction can be more efficient for all road users rather than separate phases for example for people walking and cycling which would lead to longer waits.
  • Almost all directions are designed for cycling. This excludes access to Davitt Road as if you’re confident enough to cycle there, you can find the best way there within the design or share with motorists from other directions first.
  • This allows for future cycling links across the tracks to the towpath or to a bridge to the other side.
    — I need to add the zebras over the cycle tracks.
  • Ideally, the northern cycle crossing would be two-way as well, but to do this, the left turning lane for motorists from Davitt Road to Suir Road would need to be removed.
  • The version above retains the left turn, while the version below removes it and includes a two-way crossing on all arms of the junction.
  • The version below also shows a possible location for cycling access across the Luas tracks to the towpath and onto the location of a potential walking and cycling bridge across the canal.

Both of these alternatives might be dismissed as overkill for this junction, but the section of this route along James’s is already well-used as this area is crying out for investment in cycle routes. There’s already pent-up demand for cycling in the area, and we need to build for the future rather than having to totally revisit designs again in a few years’ time, especially at locations like this which are key to connecting routes and communities.

More details of the project and the consultation can be found at

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