Planning inspector’s BusConnects condition for extra pedestrian crossings in high-density area “unwarranted” says An Bord Pleanála

Residential areas around Dublin’s Dorset Street have a population density of up to and over 10,000 people per square km — in other words, there are fewer people living in many Irish towns than in just one square km around this central Dublin street. But An Bord Pleanála has ruled against its own inspector, who wanted the BusConnects plans to be adjusted to account for the national standard on pedestrian priority in high-density areas.

In practical terms, it means that if you’re walking along the south side of the North Circular Road or the north side of Gardner Street, you’ll have to cross three sets of pedestrian crossings to continue on the same side of the same street.

Dorset Street is part of the Swords to City Centre route, one of the 12 Core Bus Corridor Schemes, which are part of BusConnects’ infrastructure element.

The Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets has been national design guidance for streets in urban areas since 2013.

The manual outlines how “Junction design is largely determined by volumes of traffic… the design of junctions has traditionally prioritised motor vehicle movement. Designers must take a more balanced approach to junction design in order to meet the objectives of Smarter Travel (2009) and this Manual. In general, designers should… Provide crossings on all arms of a junction.”

In his list of suggested conditions, planning inspector Liam Bowe, lists ‘Number 4 as follows: “Prior to commencement of development, the developer shall agree in writing with Dublin City Council the design and layout of additional pedestrian crossing facilities on Dorset Street following a Street Design Audit of this section of the route carried out in accordance with DMURS Advice Note 4.”

He said the reason for this was “In the interest of pedestrian safety and connectivity.”

The Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets also notes: “Safety concerns regarding pedestrian crossings should also be viewed in the context of pedestrian behaviour. Research has found that pedestrians are less likely to comply with the detour/delay created by staggered crossings, leading to unsafe crossing behaviour. It will generally be more desirable, from a safety point of view, to provide a direct single phase crossing.”

The suggestion condition from the planning inspector was flexible in that it would allow for the National Transport Authority’s BusConnects team to reach an argument with Dublin City Council about the number of crossings.

It references DMURS Advice Note 4, which is a note about ‘Quality Audits’ — this is not directly about junctions but about evaluating any design including junctions.

The An Bord Pleanála order, signed by board member Tom Rabbette, states: “In deciding not to apply the Inspector’s recommended Condition Number 4 (as per the Inspector’s Report dated the 19th day of March 2024), the Board considered that additional pedestrian crossing facilities on Dorset Street were unwarranted given the number of such crossings proposed in the scheme in this area.”

It added: “The Board considered that the proposed scheme provided for sufficient pedestrian connectivity across the street, furthermore, the Board did not consider that the proposed development posed an unacceptable risk to pedestrian safety. The Board was satisfied that the recommended Condition Number 4 was not required for the purposes of mitigation of any environmental impacts.”

5 comments

    • im not sure the last time you travelled by car through the city centre Dónal, but speed is very much not a good description. Dublin is one of the most congested cities in the EU with well documented delays when travelling by car.

      Reply
      • Depends on the time of day and location. Cars get up to a fair clip on Dorset st at night or during quieter parts of the day

        Reply
        • Agree, the trouble with Ireland’s urban design is that it is designed for traffic flow at peak times. This results in urban racetracks for off-peak periods. Look at e.g. Pearse Street, Patrick Street, Morehampton Road, Queen Street. All roads where at night motorists can easily accelerate upwards of 60-70km, and especially if they see a green/amber light and accelerate further.

          Only design change, red light cameras and speed limits moving to 30kmh will mitigate that behaviour.

          That the average city-centre motorist hasn’t figured out that it is just as easy to drive at a steady 25-30kmh (2nd gear) and arrive at roughly the same time as if they accelerate up to 50-60 to brake hard and sit at the next red light is beyond me.

          Reply

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