Galway, Martin Roundabout Upgrade

Galway City Council Disappoint with the Martin Roundabout Traffic Scheme

We urge all our supporters to let Galway City Council know that they need to up their game in designing for Cyclists and bus transport.  Based on the proposed scheme for the Martin Roundabout which is out for public consultation till 4pm on Monday 12th  August, the City Council and its consultant designers, do not appear to have studied the relevant guidance manuals!  The proposed scheme is available here

But, while the basic idea, from the proposal, of improving safety for all users at the roundabout is to be commended, the detailed design is of a shoddy quality that leaves a lot to be desired.  Check out our DRAFT submission below and feel free to copy part or all of it and make your own submission. The more people who point out the issues with this proposed design the better for public transport users and for cyclists.

Submissions should be made by 4pm on Monday 12th August directly to roads@galwaycity.ie

1    Introduction

Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network (ICAN), is the Federation of Cycling Advocacy Groups, Greenway Groups and Bike Festivals on the island of Ireland. We are the Irish member of the European Cyclists’ Federation.  Our vision is that cycling will become a normal part of transport and everyday life in Ireland.

We broadly welcome this proposed intervention in the change of design of the Martin Roundabout from a roundabout to a signal controlled junction, which will undoubtedly help to make the area safer for all users.   The public notice states that the proposed measures at the upgraded signalised junction include: provision of public transport priority measures, as well as  provision of cycling facilities and associated pedestrian enhancements and traffic calming measures.

However, we are unhappy with the proposed detailed design elements, particularly in relation to cyclists and public transport, which merit review.  In our submission below we have a number of comments to make on some general and specific design elements, which we suggest will improve the overall design and the safety elements of the proposed scheme, and encourage an increased rate of cycling and public transport enhancement.

2    Design Issues

2.1    General

2.1.1    Context

Galway has a growing population of cyclists, and congestion and private car use is a major everyday problem for the City and its health and economic wellbeing.  The growth of everyday cycling, as well as visitor cycling, needs to be encouraged. But the scheme as advertised is lacking in basic context. How does it link with existing road design?  How does it fit within the overall transport context of Galway City? What is the overall purpose over and above improving safety at the Martin Roundabout and improving access to the Galway Clinic?  Greater explanation of this context needs to be supplied and the exhibited material should have included a full Design Report.

2.1.2    Publicly Available Materials/Drawings

The scheme as advertised has 2 exhibited drawings, both nearly identical, with the same title, but one with a slightly greater extent than the other.  No Design Report, cross sections, or visual mock-ups are supplied, which make it nearly impossible to gauge the quality of parts of the design. It is difficult to understand why no cross section details are supplied at this public consultation stage, and this is unacceptable.

2.1.3    National Cycle Manual Compliance

Due to the paucity of exhibited material it is not clear how this proposed scheme complies with the guidance of the National Cycle Manual (NCM).  But in particular it appears to ignore the basic needs of cyclists as outlined in the NCM. The NCM outlines in Section 1.2 the critical ‘5 needs of cyclists’ when designing for the bicycle.  These five needs are outlined as:

  • Safety
  • Coherence
  • Directness
  • Attractiveness
  • Comfort

It is not clear from the exhibited material how these issues are dealt with in the proposed design?   All of these issues need to be addressed in a comprehensive Design Report.

2.2    Specific Design Issues

While this proposed scheme is a small step in meeting the requirement of greater safety for road users, a number of basic design elements for safer cycling, and for public transport priority, appear to have been ignored in the proposed design:

2.2.1    Cyclists Sharing with Pedestrians

The principle of bikes sharing with pedestrians is one that is not recommended by the NCM as a first option.  As no Design Report has been included in this consultation it is impossible to know what other design options were considered here.  The NCM clearly states that ‘Shared facilities between pedestrians and cyclists generally result in reduced Quality of Service for both modes and should not be considered as a first option’.  We note the extensive sharing areas proposed at the main junction and we are unhappy with these proposals, which could be very easily upgraded to an acceptable standard.

2.2.2    Junction Design

At the new Martin junction cyclists are asked to revert to pedestrian mode, by sharing (ill advisedly) with pedestrians and  to wait for pedestrian signals, and are not being facilitated to cross with main traffic green lights as recommended by the NCM.  This is clearly not in line with NCM guidelines and we refer the designers to Section 4.4 of NCM – for further advice.  This needs to be altered.

2.2.3    Cycle Track Widths and Segregation

The width of the proposed cycle routes should conform to the recommendations of the National Cycle Manual; this is impossible to determine from the drawings exhibited, and, due to no cross sections being included, we are unsure if the cycle facilities proposed are segregated from pedestrians and traffic, or proposed as on road cycle lanes.  The drawings exhibited indicate cycle lanes, which would normally refer to on-road facilities rather than segregated. In the context of traffic levels in this area and the apparent 80kph speed limits this would be non compliant with the NCM, and unsafe for cyclists.  Segregated cycle tracks are required, not ‘cycle lanes’.

2.2.4    Speed Limit Reduction Possibilities

We are delighted to see the proposed reduction in speed limits to 60kph on the approaches to the proposed junction along the R446/N67.  This is a logical and welcome feature. However, we do not see any concomitant proposal to reduce the speed limits on the Old Dublin Road or the access road to and from the Galway Clinic, where cyclists are being facilitated by a new proposed cycle lane or track.  The logic of this omission escapes us, when considered together with the R446 speed reduction proposal. The proposal to apparently retain the 80kph limits is unacceptable and out of line with the recommendations of the NCM. There is a need to review the  speed limits on both of these junction legs.

2.2.5    Bus Lane Improvements

Public transport will play a continually greater role in the future of transport here in Ireland, and Galway.  While it is good to see some improvements in the proposed bus lanes along the R446/N67 and the Old Dublin Road, they do not go far enough in ensuring that buses get clear access right up to the junctions, and are given clear priority through the junction.  The design as outlined for the bus lanes is unacceptable in the context of where we need to go in relation to public transport improvements. We refer the designers and Galway City Council to some of the developing designs for the Dublin Bus Connects project

2.2.6    Limits of Scheme

The proposals, as outlined in the limited documentation available, show the proposed scheme terminating abruptly on the Old Dublin Road and on the Galway Clinic access road, as illustrated in the clips below taken from the scheme Drawing Number 5186221 / HTR / DR / 0101.

Despite the obvious links needed on the Old Dublin Road into a busy junction with the Doughiska Road, and obvious links on the eastern side to the Galway Clinic, the scheme has been terminated in ‘open country’ at both ends, making no sense in the context of desired links, and encouragement to use the facilities.  These ‘terminations’ are a shoddy piece of design.

Scheme Drawing   5186221 / HTR / DR / 0101

2.2.7    Permeability

The proposed scheme, particularly on the Old Dublin Road, lies right beside a major housing estate, Renmore.  The opportunity to open walking and cycling links into this estate have not been availed of. This should be examined when this scheme is being reviewed critically.

3    Summary/Conclusion

While we in Cyclist.ie welcome the conversion of the Martin Roundabout to a signalised junction, we are overall disappointed with the quality of the detail as shown in the very limited exhibited drawings.  In essence:

  • The drawings and material exhibited are not sufficient to enable a proper assessment of the proposed scheme.  There is no Designer/Engineer’s Report and no cross sections or visualisations of the proposals.
  • The proposed scheme does not appear to comply with the guidelines of the National Cycle Manual in a number of respects and needs to be completely reviewed in that context.
  • The Bus Lane provision is limited and poor and does not conform to best practice.
  • The proposed scheme has physical boundaries, which appear to bear no relation to the broader context of travel in the area, with stark unacceptable endings at both eastern and western ends that do not encourage greater cycling levels, and do not link into obvious destinations.
  • There is a need for consistency in the proposed application of speed limits, which is not shown in these proposals, as outlined above.

We wish to see a comprehensive review and design report for this scheme, to place it in context and to demonstrate compliance with national design guidelines.  We in Cyclist.ie would be happy to meet with the designers and Galway City Council at any stage, to discuss any of the points raised above.