Cycling in Irish Cities

Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby ctesiphon » Tue Sep 13, 2005 1:14 am

Hi all,
Looks like Devin touched a nerve here, no?
Some of the points made by jimg and Devin are interesting, but I'm not yet converted to the guerilla cause. Put simply, I disagree that taking the law into your own hands, even in a careful, non-threatening way, is required, never mind the debate on the morality of it. I've been cycling every day since friday paying particular attention (on foot of this discussion) to the dangers, temptations and inconveniences of the journeys, both within Dublin city centre and on the N11, and I can say that I never really had to consider breaking the law. I wonder whether the flexible interpreters of the law have a secret desire to see themselves as urban renegades? The cycling equivalent of Parkour? ;)

jimg-
I do still think that motorists by and large have a tendency to tar all cyclists with the same brush, and so I still think that anyone cycling with abandon is to blame- each in a small but by no means non-exixtent way. Also, I don't see the equivalence between the cyclist and the Fiesta- you compare brands with modes.
You make some good points about accidents between cyclists and pedestrians- when I expressed a desire for more law abiding cyclists above, it could just as easily have been applied to pedestrians. Again, as with cyclists, I have a measure of sympathy for pedestrians at junctions such as the Trinity interchange on Dame Street, but it still drives me nuts to see it. A bell makes a significant difference, but there are still many times when I think "If I see one more gormless stare from a flat-footed gombeen stuck like a bunny in the headlights...". :mad: (If you'd guessed by now that I always [in town] wait for the green man before crossing the road as a pedestrian, you'd be right.)
I was impressed on a visit to Berlin last year to see how well the system worked there. A fairly well-designed bike lane network, good footpaths and well-located pedestrian crossing points, and users who stuck to their patch and were generally patient and courteous. Amsterdam is due a visit too in the near future.
Anyhow, I don't mean to single out your points, but some of them were directly addressed and thus deserved response. One last thing- afaik, the rules of the road allow that, where a pedestrian crossing is not provided in easy reach, a pedestrian can cross legally at a break in the traffic. (I'll have to check this.) Hope the taxis weren't too expensive. :)

Graham-
Your 'morbid' point was an interesting one. I 'm always acutely aware of the dangers on the road and it regularly crosses my mind that something very nasty might happen. When I say 'regularly', I mean hardly a minute passes, at least in the city centre, when it's not on my mind. Not in a morbid way, but just as a means of heightening my alertness to all the potential hazards in the environment. At this stage I know most of the pot-holes on my usual city centre routes, but the drivers opening doors, pedestrians stepping out, cars changing lanes without indicating, motorcycles in the bike lane, cyclists on the wrong side of the road- these all change daily. It's essential to be attuned to the indicators of possible danger. Like a computer game, but with much higher stakes. I do sometimes think that I'll expire in the saddle, but I'd like to think it'll happen when I'm 110 years old, cresting a peak in the Pyrenees, on a tandem with a beautiful lady (she on the anterior seat).

I think irjudge's point about education was a very good one. Do all parties- pedestrian, cyclist, motorcyclist, motorist- know the rights and duties they and others have? A little less bullishness from us all might be a start.

Regards (for now).
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby ctesiphon » Tue Sep 13, 2005 1:20 am

On a more light-hearted note...
Sometimes I map my journeys around town. This from May 2002.
(A clue: the isthmus is South Great George's Street in Dublin.)
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May 2002 (Two dogs approach).jpg
May 2002 (Two dogs approach).jpg (41.92 KiB) Viewed 4568 times
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby Devin » Tue Sep 13, 2005 6:00 am

ctesiphon wrote: I'm not yet converted to the guerilla cause.
I was hoping it wouldn’t come across like that – it really isn’t! Everybody will respond differently to cycling conditions here. I am probably very little less law-abibing than you, ctesiphon. But a major factor for me is that I cannot cycle behind traffic for very long before the fumes do me in. So I’m always looking for minimally-trafficked or traffic-free routes. This doesn’t mean I resent car drivers as irjudge assumed. The streets are gorged with traffic, but I am philosophical about it. We can’t shut them out of the centre just yet because it would damage the economy and they have (for the most part) no other way of getting in.

Amsterdam is a dream. All the lanes are separate, and the sheer volume of people cycling makes it as ordinary as walking. It also helps that the city centre must have about 2% of the traffic volume Dublin has! But of course it’s also compact; so nobody would have to cycle the distance equivalent of say Dame Street to Tallaght to get home.

I would love to see the continental European type of cycling environment created in Irish cities. But some claim the system is not transferable to this part of the world...
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby jimg » Tue Sep 13, 2005 11:47 am

Fair enough ctesiphon, if you generally wait at pedestrian crossings for the green man even when the road is clear, I don't think we'll ever see eye to eye on this. I think it might reflect a general attitude to rules and regulations. For example, you say you often have thoughts like "If I see one more gormless stare from a flat-footed gombeen stuck like a bunny in the headlights..." when you see pedestrians blocking your path while cycling. Funnily enough that sort of thing never bothers me all that much (even when I'm driving); it's just pedestrians doing what they do; they're not doing it to piss me off - and what's the big deal if I have to slow down a little bit? - the extra few seconds added to my journey time is hardly going to affect my life. Even motorists would have to do a lot to get me annoyed. For the most part, simple mistakes can be understandable. For example, the other day: I'm flying along a short section of bicycle lane which uniquely for that part of town didn't have any cars parked on it, driver trying to turn left from a minor road, main road chock a block, driver doesn't glance right before advancing into a gap in the stationary traffic, spectacular braking/skid on my part ending with a "reverse wheelie" inches from the bonnet, driver gestures profuse apologies and looks as shaken as I am and I just cycle on. What's to be achieved by getting worked into a frenzy of indignation in a situation like this?

As Devin says, it's not a cause or anything like that. My motivations are simple - get from A to B as safely, quickly and comfortably (in that order) as possible.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby GrahamH » Tue Sep 13, 2005 8:21 pm

Yikes jimg, if that incident didn't put you off cycling nothing will!

I have the utmost sympathy for cyclists, especially in urban environments, and especially in Dublin! And most of the behaviour that I see daily is impressive: most are exceptionally cafeful (if only to protect themselves :)) including stopping at lights and indicating etc.
I really don't know about the practice as described by yourself and Devin of cutting around junctions when lights are red; as neither a driver in the capital, nor a cyclist, it's difficult to see the impact of this from a purely pedestrian perspective. The dismounting and use of pedestrian crossings seems a good compromise.
What does affect you though is cyclists turning corners directly into you without looking or slowing, and the practice of shooting out from junctions - a nasty, dangerous move.

As a seasoned pedestrian :), personally I've no problem at all with cyclists using pedestrian spaces where the alternative is a dangerous road, or where provision simply has not been made for cyclists. As street users cyclists are much closer in nature to pedestrians than motorised traffic, and accordingly will gravitate towards such environments if forced to.
Non-mass level use of pedestrian areas by cyclists, including pavements, is acceptable up to a point I think - but crucially as long as the cyclist exercises a duty of care, which you are promoting jimg.

The classic location in Dublin is the newly paved areas of St Stephen's Green, an area that has roadways that are a nightmare for cyclists, but conversely has the most mouth-wateringly tempting pavements to race along :)

And this is exactly what constantly happens: cyslists boot it along here scaring the living daylights out of pedestrians, often leaving one spinning like a top in the wind generated and the fright induced - a totally unacceptable state of affairs.
I've every sympathy for cyclists forced to use the death trap that is the Green, and would be quite willing for them to use the pavements until/if this is sorted, but only as long as they respect other users.
As has been pointed out by everyone by now, this of course applies to all road users.

As for pedestrians waiting for the little green man, it really is a must in a city like Dublin. People are so so stupid in the city centre it never fails to astound how two or three people aren't killed every day, rather than that amount every year seemingly being the case.
If as a pedestrian you decide to break a light, everyone else follows suit, putting others in danger whatever about yourself.

Another classic location is O'Connell Bridge outside Ballast House. The people on the Westmoreland St side can't see the traffic moving round from behind them, so any time the people on the bridge side decide to move en masse upon seeing a brief window in the traffic, the Westmoreland side follow suit, despite not being able to see the incredibly dangerous buses and taxis swinging around this corner.

One's short-sighted rushing across from the bridge is encouraging others to put themselves in extreme danger, potentially including motorists. This senario can be replicated right acorss the city and country at large.

To state the obvious, all road users must have their wits about them and exercise common sense.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby alpha » Tue Sep 13, 2005 10:21 pm

i find the multi storey bike parks in amsterdam very amusing. storey after storey of bikes. i have never seen anything like it elsewhere.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby Devin » Wed Sep 14, 2005 3:45 am

The one outside Centraal Station is gas. I have a picture of it, which I’ll post it if I can.

Graham, I agree that there are maverick, irresponsible cyclists, who will tear along pedestrian-priority areas with seemingly no awareness of the danger they are constituting. While I don’t approve, it is an inevitable by-product of dire cycling conditions. If there were proper cycling conditions, such behaviour would be a lot more ‘unacceptable’.

With all the talk of the hundreds of € millions that traffic congestion is costing us in lost efficiency and contribution to carbon-emission fines, it reflects very badly on our government and local authorities to have done so little to provide for such an efficient and environmentally-friendly form of transport as cycling, and one which would do so much to improve amenity and general quality of life in urban areas.

With regard to crossing roads in the city as a pedestrian - yes, it's getting more dangerous all the time, but I think the “common law” still operates to some extent, whereby if you decide to cross the road at a random point, the traffic will tend to slow up a bit (though obviously it depends on the street). Whereas if you try something like that in, say, London, you have to be prepared to burst into a sprint!
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Amsterdam - Aahhhhhhh!

Postby Devin » Wed Sep 14, 2005 10:28 pm

Image

The (3-storey!) bike park at Centraal Station....now where did I leave it?



Image

Damrak - divided into roughly equal parts pedestrian path, cycle lane, bus/tram way, and then other vehicles. Cough, dame street.



Image

Crossing point, with 'little green bike'.



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Cycling is even pleasant in the rain!
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby manstein » Mon Sep 19, 2005 5:39 pm

The safest bicycle lane in Dublin at the moment is the Luas tracks. Its the easiest way to negotiate the quays and its a joy on Harcourt street.

Serioulsy though the absence of a dedicated bicycle lane on O'Connell Street is a disaster. Isn't it supposed to be the widest main street in Europe or something and yet cannot accommodate bicyles. I guess we will have to wait until all multi personal motorised transportation machines (cars) are banned from a 1K radius of the spire for the streets of Dublin to be enjoyed again by all.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby cobalt » Mon Sep 19, 2005 7:02 pm

There actually is a supposed cycle lane on O'Connell Street - it's a narrow band beside the median (both northbound and southbound). Unfortunately, it doesn't extend the full length of the street, and it's so badly marked that hardly anyone knows it's there - probably added to by the fact that it's the 'outside' (right hand) lane, rather than on the left as in most other cases.
For cyclists, it's next to useless - motorists just drive in it.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby GrahamH » Mon Sep 19, 2005 7:12 pm

And two buses cannot fit comfortably side by side on the street without consuming it too - what a disaster.
Don't think I've ever seen anyone using it - cyclists just fit in on the roadway where they can.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby Devin » Tue Sep 20, 2005 12:56 pm

manstein wrote:Serioulsy though the absence of a dedicated bicycle lane on O'Connell Street is a disaster.
Totally true. Here was the chance to show the way and create a proper separated cycling lane for the centre of Dublin, like the ones you see on the Continent. God knows there was enough space to do it (an excuse you often hear when separated cycle lanes are suggested is that it would mean losing too much road space).

What's the story Mitchell & Associates / Dublin City Council Architect's Division? The cycling situation on O'Connell Street is a sham. It is actually more dangerous cycling on that lane on the inside than it is cycling on other city centre streets, which are pretty dangerous anyway. Obviously they put the cycling lane on the inside so as it would be away from the buses, which have to stop along the street; but buses drive on the inside as well anyway.

What should be done now is a separated cycle lane created on the upper end which is currently under construction (on the outside or inside, it doesn't matter) - it wouldn't require that much design modification - and on the lower end after that, because the current situation is untenable. It just continues the tradition of a dirty, noisy, dangerous and stressful cycling experience in Dublin.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby magicbastarder » Tue Sep 20, 2005 8:15 pm

i've never liked the argument that road users should be pigeonholed into two types - pedestrians and everyone else. it's that attitude which has led to road design in ireland being the way it is. there's a continuum of types of road users, and i'd place cyclists somewhere between pedestrians and motorists. there are laws for trucks and buses which do not apply to cars. this is seen as safe and sane. yet to argue that there should be laws differentiating cars and bikes is seen as reactionary and dangerous. cyclists have a tiny fraction of the protection and of the weight of a moving car, and an minor fraction of the top end speed. yet we are treated as being as dangerous as a car. which is demonstrably untrue.

essentially, it's a compromise between the rules of the road and my safety. i will not pay heed to someone quoting the rules of the road at me when the design of the road in question has made no allowances for my safety. and the "get off and walk" argument is simply an admission that road design has failed some of those who are legally entitled to use the road. for example - cycling out the n11, and wanting to take a right up brewery road - it's only a very fit cyclist who will always be able to accelerate uphill and cross three lanes of traffic to get to the filter right lane. everyone else has to use the pedestrian lights. i'm not saying there should be right of way given to a cyclist across the n11, i'm just using it as an illustration that the rules of the road simply cannot apply to cyclists in that case.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby ctesiphon » Wed Sep 21, 2005 12:39 pm

mb-
That's a fair point about Brewery Road. I pass near the cross roads every day so know it well. Also, if coming out of Farmleigh (the estate opposite the end of Brewery), the lights don't go green for cyclists, meaning (I presume) that they're on some kind of sensor that's not sensitive enough for bikes. So I end up going through John of God's and crossing at the pedestrian lights at H.R. Holfield- it's one of the few times I ever bend a rule, i.e. by going the wrong way along the southbound bike path.
However, by applying Devin and jimg's justification of self-preservation to your conundrum then the logical thing to do is either:
a) cross at the pedestrian lights at the bottom of Brewery; or
b) cross at the John of God's pedestrian lights and go along the old Stillorgan Road parallel to the N11.
I realise this is very case specific, but similar solutions can be applied to most similar scenarios.

You're right- the
"get off and walk" argument is ... an admission that road design has failed
but I don't think anyone is arguing that road design is a success for cyclists. And if in doubt, I'd rather walk and live than be a dead hero.

Could I ask- what are people's cycling black spots in cities? I'm only familiar with Dublin, but there must be some in all urban areas.
For my part, more than once I've had very near misses on Cuffe Street with cars (well, usually taxis) exiting from Mercer Street. I'm guessing they look to their right and when they don't see a car (or car headlights if it's night-time) they just keep going, i.e. it seems they only yield rather than stop at the t-junction. This is one junction at which I'm always prepared to swing right out into the middle of the road at a split second's notice, by checking in advance if there's anything coming behind me.
(Beofre it's brought up, I do always use front and back lights and a yellow wally band at night.)
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby Richards » Wed Sep 21, 2005 12:54 pm

Black spots for cyclists in Dublin
South Quays
North Quays
D'Olier / College Street / Westmoreland Street Axis
North Strand Road (esp at Canal Bridge)
Cycle Land from Finglas (going towards town - v steep downhill shared with footpath)
O Connell Street
Wexford Street (v narrow with parked cars)
Stephens Green East (parked cars always reversing trying to get out)
And thats just for starters!
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby jimg » Wed Sep 21, 2005 1:13 pm

aha ctesiphon, there was me thinking you were an "Uncle Tom" cyclist but it seems you're a rebel at heart :D
one of us, one of us, gooboo gaaboo, one of us...

Black spots; lots but ones that immediately spring to mind: coming onto Stephen's Green from Hume Street, the Matt Talbot bridge to Moss Street (already mentioned), cycling through College Green can be dodgy - particularly going from Pearse St to Dame Street, the junction at Christ Church is awful for cyclists, basically anywhere optimised for motorised traffic flow - e.g. Beresford Place, pretty much any right turn but especially on multi-lane one-way streets (one-ways are generally bad because drivers seem to go faster).

However, the most dangerous situations for cyclists are not specific to location, in my opinion. The worst situations are left turning cars when the cyclist is going straight ahead, cars pulling out of minor roads and doors opening on parked/stopped cars. My intuition, from experience both as a cyclist and a driver is that you'll probably never be hit from behind by a car - it's the cars on front of you that are the danger from a cyclist's point of view. Even for a good driver it is easy to miss the fact that a cyclist is behind you or alongside you but you'll always notice one on front of you. As a result, even though it may seem contradictory, you are generally safer IN FRONT of the traffic. Therefore, for example, at a red light I will always squeeze between lines of cars to get to the front of the junction (especially a multi-lane dodgy junction like the one at Christ Church) before the lights change - in this way I'm guaranteed to be seen by the cars waiting to go and will be given due consideration. I also will assume that no driver in front of me has seen me and cycle defensively on that basis. This is also the reason why rear view mirrors are useless on bikes.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby ctesiphon » Wed Sep 21, 2005 1:55 pm

Shhhhhhh jimg, you'll blow my cover! :)
That's a very good point about general danger. I fully agree with you about the examples cited, i.e. left-turning cars, cars exiting from side roads and doors opening (on the last one, I think tinted/reflective windows, and maybe even oversized headrests on seats, should be banned, as they obscure a cyclist's view of the driver or passenger who might be about to open a door). I'd add to your list cars coming in the opposite direction and turning right across stationary traffic- bikes on the inside will still be moving, especially if there's a bike lane, but cars just sail on through. My brother ended up on a car bonnet on Pearse St a couple of years ago for just this reason.
And your point about behind/in front is spot on too. I've often wondered what the value of a back light is (and I do have one)- wouldn't we be better with two front ones?

When I mentioned black spots, I was thinking of specific locations that are particularly bad- we've established by now that city cycling is a dangerous habit. Not to knock your suggestions, Richards, all of which are on the money, but more along the lines of your Stephen's Green one was what was on my mind. I guess what I was thinking of was trying to establish a kind of catalogue of spots at which we must pay extra attention.

Turning right from Leeson St onto SSG- the merging is a disaster, so I usually lurk among the 'bollards' between the two streams until a break occurs.
As you mention, jimg, Pearse to Dame requires a brass neck and a (speed) kick like a mule.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby magicbastarder » Wed Sep 21, 2005 2:14 pm

one of my favourite spots for bad cycle lane design (which i haven't cycled on in two years, so it may have changed) was where the off-road cycle path dropped down onto the road on the inside of the bend where the lower kilmacud road took a 90 degree swing.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby magicbastarder » Wed Sep 21, 2005 2:16 pm

jimg wrote:Therefore, for example, at a red light I will always squeeze between lines of cars to get to the front of the junction

it annoys the hell out of me that where space in front of the cars has been designated for cyclists to wait at lights, that most drivers simply ignore this and sit over the area.
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby GrahamH » Wed Sep 21, 2005 6:41 pm

Watching cyclists battle it out in the city over the past few days - really and truly I am in awe of you all!
How you return in one piece to post here I do not know :)

St Stephen's Green seems to be a disaster all round - specifically why does the cycle lane along the Green south outside Iveagh House etc suddenly come to an end round about outside the (new) Dept of Justice?! It just cuts out to nothing, leaving the cyclist with nothing between here and the junction with Harcourt St!
And on the doorstep of the offices of the DTO!
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby Richards » Wed Sep 21, 2005 7:03 pm

The reason as to why the cycle lane juts out by Iveagh House is so that the ministers car can park
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby ctesiphon » Thu Sep 22, 2005 12:37 am

So I see 22nd September is EU car-free day. I see also that Dublin is not participating. Presumably they think nobody can be "In town, without my car!" for a day, or even a few hours. Congrats to Cork and Dundalk though, for at least trying.
I guess we've done alright without DCC's help for long enough now, one more day won't hurt. Are they afraid it might give us... y'know... notions?

EU car-free site
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby Devin » Tue Sep 27, 2005 11:12 pm

Contra Flow Cycle Lanes

Here are a few locations which - in my opinion - scream for insertion of a contra flow cycle lane. If anyone else has other suggestions, please add them. The route from the Ambassador, O'Cll St. up to Walton’s, Frederick St. as suggested by Conk earlier would I suppose be another.

In all of the cases below, there are cyclists using these 'shortcuts' every few minutes (though some get off and walk).

I’d like to stress, though, that by saying contra flow lanes are needed in these locations, I am in no way saying that you can make a few improvements to cycling conditions in Dublin and everything will be fine. The reality is that the overall situation for cyclists in the city is so grim as to warrant a redesign of every single street where traffic runs.




Image

Upper Camden Street
The straight road between Rathmines and the city must have one of the highest rates of cycle-commuting in the city. But when you are going in the City-to-Rathmines direction, you have to make a daft circuitous route at the top of Lower Camden Street - or else do this (above). Even in the pissing rain yesterday, a cyclist was heading up here against the flow about every two minutes.



Image

Parnell Street
To get from the 'multi-plex' area of Parnell Street to O’Connell Street / the next bit of Parnell Street, you have to go right around Parnell Square - or else make this irresistable shortcut; but with hostile traffic coming towards you.



Image

South Leinster Street
Again, the cyclist arriving in from Ballsbridge etc. and destined for Grafton Street, Dame Street, or anywhere else in the centre is not going to make the fume-choked circuitous route around by Westland Row / Pearse Street in order to get there. (Most cylists coming into South Leinster St. like this are coming from Clare Street, but this one (above) is coming from Lincoln Place, also against the traffic flow.)
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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby Morlan » Wed Sep 28, 2005 1:53 am

Another Raon Rothar classic. Cyclists are forced to partially dismount in order to negotiate the sudden 90 degree turn. No warnings; just a ton of concrete plonked on the path.

The footpath has been closed with temporary blue hoardings so cyclists should expect to see some confused pedestrians all shuffling past the informative concrete block.

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Re: Cycling in Irish Cities

Postby ctesiphon » Wed Sep 28, 2005 12:50 pm

Cripes Morlan- that sure is a fine example indeed. And not just concrete anti-terrorist blocks in the way, but well-meaning photographers too. :)
Devin-
Those are some good examples of locations for contra-flow lanes. However, each has a couple of problems. First, it would take more than just laying some red tarmac to turn them into bike lanes. The junction leading to each would also require a comprehensive redesign to allow bike traffic free passage onto the lane. I'm thinking specifically of the Bleeding Horse, where one or other traffic stream is always moving, and where bikes would have to cross four or five lanes to access any contra-flow.
Secondly, installing a bike lane at all of the locations mentioned would require permanently removing kerbside parking- what are the odds?
As you said yourself, nothing short of a comprehensive redesign would suffice. I think we've established by now that this piecemeal intervention mentality of putting in bike lanes only if they fit (and don't upset the cars) has not worked.
However, as long as Eoin Keegan is in charge at DCC I think it will be an uphill battle. I get the feeling that cycling provision is too much of a headache for him- witness his Velo-City comments in May about the bike lane network having failed. No, Mr Keegan, it is you who has failed.
Maybe DCC need a cycle planning officer?
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