After many years of highlighting the problems along the Grand Canal for pedestrians – particularly at badly-designed junctions – we’re finally getting to see some BIG improvements.

I’m going to go through some of the main documents below, but I have uploaded the full technical drawings here.

Some context

Before I do: I want to flag just how much work Cllr. Carolyn Moore has done to get these changes through. She’s been highlighting the problems for a long time and it’s great to see that work paying off.

I know the below simply wouldn’t be happening without the massive national funding the Green Party secured (€360m per year) for pedestrian and cycling improvements. These designs are funded via that NTA funding.

It’s also worth noting that there are future plans for a set of cycling improvements along this route. There are some new cycling protection bollards in these works, but the plans being worked on now are mainly focused on making it easier to walk.

Of course, it would be great to get a permanent solution for cycling and walking put in in one go. But, as with many projects at the moment, I suspect this is a case of doing what can be done now: there’s an acute shortage of designers and road crews at the moment, which makes things tricky to do speedily. More money is pouring in, thankfully, but many of these projects will move in stages.

Herberton Road junction

This is a really awful junction, and probably the most complained-about junction I’ve come across in three years on the council.

It’s a really hostile place. Full of wide speeding bends in the road encouraging high speeds, no lights for pedestrians to cross, unprotected painted bike lanes, and barriers galore to stop people crossing.

It’s confusing for a driver, risky for a cyclist, and utterly unuseable for pedestrians.

Here’s what it’s getting:

  1. Full pedestrian light crossings on all four sides.
  2. Widening and repair of footpaths
  3. Narrowing of junctions to cut speeds
  4. Bollard protection for bike lane at junction (a bike-focused scheme is coming later)
  5. Dropped, tactile kerbs

In the below diagram of the new works, the light blue is new footpath, the orange dots are bollards, the red or yellow hatching is tactile paving (to mark crossing points), and you can see where the new pedestrian crossings will go.

This is not only good for people coming in towards Rialto, but also for those walking along the canal. They otherwise would have to wait for a break in the speedy traffic and try skidaddle across unsafely.

Sally’s Bridge: Donore Ave and Clogher Road

Closer to town, there’s the crossing at Donore Avenue and Clogher Road – just beside Sally’s Bridge. It currently has only one traffic light: for people coming in towards town. There is no crossing for people walking along the canal, despite it being a popular pedestrian route.

That’s going to change: each “arm” of the junction is getting full pedestrian lights. The footpaths are being widened to make the corners slower and calmer for motor traffic. The existing painted bike lanes are getting some temporary bollard protection. You can see what’s planned in the image below.

Aughavanagh Rd/Scoil Íosagáin

Between those two junctions is Aughavanagh Road. It’s a small junction to a residential road, but crucially it is right beside Scoil Íosagáin – a local primary school. It was always really risky that this junction had no safe crossing.

It’s now getting a full pedestrian light crossing to cross the main road. Big improvement. The entrance to Aughavanagh Road itself is being narrowed: this will slow car traffic down and reduce the space pedestrians have to cross.

Smaller improvements

The above changes tackle a lot of the big problem junctions along this route, but there are more plans elsewhere. In the main, you’ll see big blue sections in the diagrams: indicating where the footpath is being expanded: typically to slow down cars making the turn and make things safer for pedestrians.

There are also temporary bollards going in at various junctions, which provide a bit more protection to cyclists. But future cycling improvement plans for this whole stretch are coming.

Slievenamon/Galtymore Road turns

Some of the wildly wide turns from the canal to Slievanamon Road and the grassy area near Galtymore Road have already (at time of writing) been narrowed. The plans are below.

Clanbrassil Street

The junction with Clanbrassil Street is getting some extra temporary cycling protection and some ancillary footpath widening.

Richmond Street South and Charlemont

Very similar improvements to the junctions with Richmond Street South and Charlemon:

Leeson Street

Finally, as the scheme tapers off in the east (where walking and cycling provision is already comparatively quite good) there are some additional bollards going in for cycling at the junction leading to Leeson Street.