Category Archives: Irish Posts

Cyclist.ie Pre-Budget Submission 2020

Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, has made a pre-budget submission, asking for 10% of the transport budget to be allocated to cycling.

We estimate that spending on cycling currently amounts to less than 2% of Transport capital spending. This year climate change has moved centre stage with the publication in March of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action (JOCCA) final report, the declaration in May of a Climate Emergency, and the publication in June of the government’s Climate Action Plan, all of which recommended that 10% of the Transport Budget should be spent on cycling.

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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.

Health Bodies Call for Active Travel in Climate Action Plan

Major Health Bodies support call for Active Travel to be an integral part of the forthcoming All of Government Climate Action Plan

The Irish Heart Foundation, the Irish Cancer Society, Diabetes Ireland, Irish Doctors for the Environment, the Association of Health Promotion Ireland, Professor Donal O’Shea (National Clinical Lead for Obesity and Hon. President of Cyclist.ie), and the Irish Pedestrian Network have signed an open letter from Cyclist.ie to the Taoiseach asking for concrete measures to facilitate active travel to form an integral part of the forthcoming All of Government Climate Action Plan.

The Department of Transport’s walking and cycling budget is increasing this year, but planned expenditure comes nowhere near the 10% level demanded by Cyclist.ie for cycling in its Pre-Budget Submission 2019 and endorsed by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action (JOCCA). The ground-breaking report by the JOCCA makes a very strong case for active travel with the statement – “active travel measures are also among the most cost-effective emissions reduction strategies”. Our particular focus is how this needs to happen on health grounds. There is overwhelming evidence that lack of physical activity is a contributory cause in a host of debilitating chronic illnesses, including heart-disease, stroke, some cancers and diabetes. Hence the endorsement of the letter by all of the above health bodies. The forthcoming Climate Action Plan presents an opportunity to set targets for active travel which will contribute to reducing emissions and promoting health.

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Liffey cycle route selected after seven years of plans

The route for a 5km cycle path along the river Liffey in Dublin has finally been selected by the National Transport Authority (NTA) seven years since planning for the project began.

The segregated cycle route from the Phoenix Park in the west to the Tom Clarke Bridge in the east is expected to cost more than €20 million and will run on both sides of the river.

More than 100 car parking spaces and 33 trees will be removed to facilitate the track, but unlike previous plans, cars or buses will not be diverted from the quays.

Read article (Irish Times)

Greenway chair: local councils need to co-ordinate their plans

NORMA PRENDIVILLE – normap@limerickleaderie

More than three decades after the Great Southern Trail Group was established, one of its founder members and current chairman, Liam O’Mahony has been invited to address the conference of the European Greenways Association on the issue of citizen involvement.

The conference, which takes place in Spain next week, has attracted participants from countries all over Europe including a speaker from the Department of Transport and Tourism who will outline the Irish strategy in developing Greenways.

Speaking to the Limerick Leader in advance of the conference, Mr O’Mahony said the building of an underpass to Barnagh Tunnel, currently underway, was to be welcomed.

The application by Kerry County Council for funds to develop two stretches of the old Great Southern railway line from the Limerick border to Listowel and from Tralee to Fenit was also a positive, he said.

But he questioned whether there was “joined-up” thinking between the Kerry and Limerick councils on the matter and argued that an opportunity was being missed to e develop a national greenway.

“It appears that both councils are working independently of each other” Mr O’Mahony said. “Kerry is not even using the Great e Southern tag in their two projects.

“Both councils have also failed to highlight that the railway route is 100km long,” he pointed out.

He is also concerned that the momentum that was injected when Limerick City and County Council took over management of the Limerick trail in 2016 has faded.

“A grand plan is one. Implementation is something else.”

And he has voiced concern that the Great Southern Trail group, is once again being sidelined. When the idea of a trail along the railway line was first raised, Shannon Development ignored the group and effectively “created the opposition among landowners”, he said. For ten years, Mr O’Mahony said, the trail group was “regarded as an undesirable element.”

But the group persisted in its plan, gradually doing stretches of the line and gained recognition. Now, Mr O’Mahony feels the group is again being ignored. “Now everybody seems to be consulted except us’ he said. “Anything suggested by us has been put on the long finger,” he said.

And he includes in this, a suggestion from the trail group to site artefacts of railway heritage along the route. These include old wagons, wheels etc. which could be adapted to new purposes but would serve as reminders of the past.

The group however, is particularly concerned about preserving the integrity of the line.

“When the GST Group was developing 40km of the old railway line in Limerick, it prevailed, despite trenchant opposition form some sources, in preserving the integrity of the route,” Mr O’Mahony said.

“It is a matter of much regret that in 2017, Limerick City and County Council failed to develop a stretch from Rathkeale to Ballingrane Junction due to local opposition. To compound this failure, there are indications the council is now contemplating a deviation from the already developed 40km Greenway to facilitate one individual.”

This is totally unacceptable to the Trail Group, he continued, and could set a precedent for further deviation in the yet to be developed stretches of the line.

“Our position is clear: State-owned railway routes are not up for grabs by private individuals.” he said.

Safer, rounder trucks to hit the roads next year

The introduction date for more aerodynamic, safer truck cabs on Europe’s roads will be brought forward to 1 September 2020, EU lawmakers agreed yesterday. The European federation of transport NGOs, Transport & Environment (T&E), welcomed the reform which will speed the roll-out of more rounded truck fronts that allow drivers to better see pedestrians and cyclists and improve fuel efficiency.

Under the changes agreed last night, truckmakers will be permitted an additional 80-90cm of cab length in return for improving the aerodynamics, vision, safety and driver comfort of the truck cab.

James Nix, T&E’s freight and climate director, said: “For decades EU law prohibited truckmakers from producing more streamlined, rounded cabs, holding back safety and aerodynamics. Today’s decision puts an end to this and paves the way for more fuel efficient and safer trucks to hit the road from next year, many years earlier than previously agreed.”

Today’s trucks account for 2% of vehicles on the road but 15% of fatalities, amounting to 4,000 deaths every year across Europe. Around 1,000 of these deaths are cyclists and pedestrians. Combined with other design changes, the reform will also enable emissions reductions and fuel savings of up to 10% from long-haul trucks.

On 21 February, legislators will decide on another key reform – the introduction of a ‘direct vision’ standard for new trucks in the General Safety Regulation – in a vote by the European Parliament’s internal market committee (IMCO). The standard is expected to set out the area surrounding a truck cab the driver must be able to see without using mirrors or cameras, thus improving safety for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

James Nix concluded: “The design change just agreed will help consign the brick-shaped cab to history. However, unlike for cars, there is still no minimum area of the road that truck drivers must be able to see directly. MEPs should now pass the direct vision standard which will go a step further in making Europe’s roads safer for all.”

T&E noted that the reform of truck cab design has taken place in less than nine months, showing that the EU can move speedily. The proposal was published as part of the mobility reform package in mid-May 2018.

Cork Rallies for Safer Cycling

Cork Cycling Campaign Rallies for Better Protection for Cyclists;
Corkonians Rally for Safe, Usable Cycle Lanes

People who support cycling held their first rally outside City Hall on 11 February this evening. The rally was organised by the Cork Cycling Campaign to highlight problems experienced in the city, particularly vehicles stopping or parking in dedicated cycle lanes. The rally called for measures to make the city’s cycle lanes fit for purpose and safe for cycling.

The rally coincided with motions from Cllr Fiona Ryan (Solidarity Party) before the city council to install protective barriers in places where parking in cycle lanes is a persistent problem. These include South Main Street, Washington Street, and Alfred Street. Barriers are already routinely used across the city and have been installed between vehicular traffic lanes on Washington Street as recently as last month.

Cork Cycling Campaign pointed out that the rally shows how strongly people who cycle feel about vehicles parked in cycle lanes. First and foremost, this practise threatens the safety of people cycling. When drivers park cars or vans in cycle lanes, cyclists must swerve into another traffic lane and mix with fast, heavy vehicles. This poses a grave danger for unprotected road users. Such manoeuvres intimidate many people, especially children and inexperienced cyclists. Safeguarding cycle lanes is also a matter of mutual respect between different road users. Parking in cycle lanes disregards the needs of other road users, including buses which must wait for a break in traffic to manoeuvre around a parked car.

Full Press Release