Friday 23 February 2018

#CityCycling 'Dublin city is on the verge of gridlock and we're dragging our feet on improving cycle lanes' - councillor

Dublin Centre Cycling Demand 2011. National Transport Authority
Dublin Centre Cycling Demand 2011. National Transport Authority
Dublin Area Cycling Demand 2011
Dublin Area Cycling Demand 2021. Photo: National Transport Authority
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

Traffic in Dublin city is “on the verge of gridlock” and more spending is needed on cycling infrastructure, a councillor has warned.

Labour councillor Andrew Montague, who first proposed the 30kmh speed limit on Dublin’s quays, has warned that there is not enough space in Dublin for cars.

“We’re always on the verge of gridlock. We put in new roads, ring roads, built car parks to try and make it work, but you can’t make enough space in your city for cars. We have to find some other way out.”

The cordon canal count shows that 5pc of commuters in Dublin are cyclists. Dublin City Council expects that this will rise to 15pc by 2020.

The most important plan to help achieve this is the National Transport Authority cycling strategy 2013, Cllr Montague says. The plan sets out a ten-year strategy to treble the network of cycling lanes in urban areas. 

"It’s a very exciting prospect. It’s so much cheaper to invest in those cycling lanes than to invest in more roads or a metro. It’s much cheaper.”

“My worry now is that we’re not spending enough on this plan, that we’re dragging our feet on it. The Grand Canal route took us about 18 months to complete. The plans are to finish the Royal Canal route in 2019 when we started it in 2012; that’s snail’s progress.”

“We could get one route done for €10m, whereas the Luas is costing us €380m. Around 11,600 commuters travel in by Luas into the city centre everyday, and 10,400 commute by bicycle. It's more or less the same. With the Luas, we spent €385m spent on the Luas upgrade - can we not have the same?”

“A big problem for us is a lot of our cycle lanes are put in with just a line on the road, but there should be more segregation on the lane. Anywhere where cars are fast, you need proper segregation.”

“People have to be able to get deliveries but maybe it would be more suitable to make rear entrance access or an indent for delivery vans, or adjust delivery times.”

“We’re a long way short of the great cities, but we’re doing well.”

The number of people cycling into the city everyday and crossing the canals has gone from 4,800 in 2006, to 10,350 last year.

Dublin Area Cycling Demand 2021. Photo: National Transport Authority
Dublin Area Cycling Demand 2021. Photo: National Transport Authority

Cycling currently accounts for 25pc of movements in the city centre, and Dublin City Council aims to grow this to over 30pc in ten years, Michael Phillips, Director of Traffic and City Engineer said.

The city council currently spends €18m a year on cycling infrastructure but this figure is soon expected to increase, he said.

“Over the last number of years, there has been a lot of planning. We hope over the next year to be moving into the construction phase,” Mr Phillips said.

Read More: Japanese-style multi-storey bicycle parking planned for Dublin within the next four years 

Development in the Docklands will accelerate in the coming years after a large-scale planning scheme was given the green light last year.

Some 366,000 square metres of office space and 2,600 homes will be developed across 22 hectares of land in the North Lotts and Grand Canal Dock under the Docklands Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) planning scheme.

With this development and many others, more cyclists will need to traverse the city.

“It’s very likely that the developments planned in the Docklands will increase the number of cyclists coming in. You have the DART on the south side and the Luas on the north side, but cycling will become a huge transport area for people coming from other directions as well,” Mr Phillips said.

Two of the 13 cycling paths set out in the National Transport Authority (NTA) cycling strategy 2013 are currently under construction – the Sutton to Sandycove cycleway and a cycleway from Customs House to the Samuel Beckett bridge.

“The S2S has been around for about 12 years. We’ve a major drive on to get it completed over the next five or seven years. It crosses every river, and we hope to build a main cycle lane along each of the rivers.”

“Then out on the south campshires along the Liffey, we’ll be going from Customs House on south side down to the Samuel Beckett bridge. That’s being incorporated as part of the flood defence works.”

“For the Liffey cycle route, the aim would be to free up more space on the quays for cyclists, and we’re trying to decide on the final options.”

Construction will also soon begin on the Royal Canal greenway, from the river Liffey out to Ashtown.

Dublin City Council eventually aims to link the Royal Canal to the Grand Canal, through the Phoenix Park and Memorial Park, Mr Phillips said.

“The Grand Canal cycleway, from Rathmines to the Grand Canal basin, has far exceeded our expectations, 4,500 cyclists use that every day.”

“The next part is to do Rathmines up to the Blackhorse Bridge. That will link up with another cycle lane which exists to take you out to the M50.”

Mr Phillips added: “Out to public consultation at the moment is the cycle route from Clonskeagh into the city centre through Camden street.”

“Also out to public consultation at the moment is the cycle lane to come from Clontarf into the city centre.”

And a cycle route will be developed from Heuston station to Chapelizod, through memorial park.

One of the next steps in making Dublin a cyclist friendly city is to get cyclists being compliant on the rules of the road, the engineer said.

“We have the lights with bicycles stencilled on them to make it easier for cyclists. But we have difficulties with cyclists not obeying the rules of the road where they’re not obeying the red lights, so we’re in discussions with gardai on how we can actually reduce that.”

“The idea of cyclists using the shared space with pedestrians is used in other cities, but in other cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen cyclists are very disciplined. We have to get that level of discipline here - that is absolutely essential as cyclists increase.”

“You can only put in designs to safe standards but the cyclists, as well as pedestrians, have to take responsibility for their own behaviour, such as waiting for the green man rather than crossing when you know there’s no traffic there,” Mr Phillips said.

“We’re looking at where can cyclists share spaces with pedestrians.”

“Cyclists and pedestrians have to mix an awful lot. It’s trying to get the balance right, because once you come into the city centre, the number of people walking is nearly as big as the number of cars. What we want to do is make it safe for cyclists as quickly as we’re allowed because it has to go to consultation.”

But unlike bike-friendly cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, cyclists come second in priority to public transport.

“The big difference between Amsterdam and Copenhagen and Dublin, is they have underground metros. Our traffic has to have priority. In Amsterdam or Copenhagen, you can direct the people into the underground.”

“You have to move 200,000 to 250,000 people into the city every day. Public transport has priority, traffic lights have priority. It’s not actually the cyclist versus the car. Public transport will always remain the priority.”

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