There’s a new bike lane planned for Rialto: running from Suir Road all the way to Thomas Street. It’s one of the quick-build interim schemes that Dublin City Council are rolling out, which will eventually be followed up with a permanent scheme.

I’ve been pushing for improved cycling along this stretch for a long time and think that it’s a really positive plan . The submission I’ve sent is below, and full plans and drawings are available here.

Public consultation closes on 14th November 2022. There’s also an open day for locals to find out more on the 24th of November (details here).

The proposed interim cycle scheme for Kilmainham to Thomas Street is really welcome and much needed.

The immediate is overly traffic clogged and unsafe for people who want to cycle through to town and – more importantly – for those who want to cycle safely to school along the route.

I use the route regularly as I live nearby, and the area could be vastly improved by lowering car priority and giving more over to quieter, calmer modes of travel such as walking and cycling.

The council’s Active Travel Scheme have done great work here and should push on with the scheme, but I have some comments below based on individual discussion with locals, a public meeting I attended on the scheme, and my own thoughts as a near-daily user of the space.

1. Bike lane widths

In several parts of the scheme, the bike lane widths are insufficient. At the junction of the South Circular and James’ Walk, for example, they go as tight as 1m each way. This is simply too narrow – especially when it is beside a 3.6m wide car lane – wider than a standard motorway lane.

DMURS, the roads national design standards, suggest a car lane of 2.7-3m wide for streets like this. Dublin Fire Brigade seek at least 3.6m “from kerb to kerb”, but the Active Travel Team should engage with DFB directly to see exactly what the need for such widths are and how they could be accommodated while allowing more space for the bike lane on site. I have spoken to several council staff on this point, and nobody seems quite clear what DFB need such an extreme lane width for.

2. Parking at James’ Walk

The scheme necessarily involves a reduction in parking along much of the target area. In most cases (such as the northside of James’ Walk near Basin View) this is a welcome and necessary reduction, as much of the parking is simply used for free parking for the hospital.

However, there is a particularly acute problem for the houses at 75-86 James’ Walk. They have no real prospect to establish off-street parking and rely on the spaces immediately outside. Some accommodation of their needs should be found. Suggestions which have been made which should be examined include:

  • Including the residents in the wider pay and display scheme on Rialto Street and Court, including opening up a part of the fencing by Rialto Court/James’ Walk to allow easier access
  • Spacing of the bike lane, using some of the “set down area” or especially wide sections of the footpath to accommodate the bike lane
  • Reduction in the width of the car lane to provide some parking space
  • Filtered permeability at the junciton of the the SCR and James Walk, to allow more flexibile use of the space and reduce through traffic

I don’t have engineering experience to assess all of the ideas fully, but they should be examined to see what can feasibly be done to provide some parking option without compromising the cycle lane safety. This may involve using a combination of some of the above approaches.

3. Improving the linear park

The linear park section (from Suir Road to the SCR) is frequently used by pedestrians and cyclists currently. Additional clarity (through signage) that pedestrians have priority is welcome, but it may be more appropriate to explicitly state that there is “pedestrian priority” rather than the less-clear “share with care”.

The Active Travel Team should regularly review whether such an approach is working or not. If not, they could consider measures such as light segregation between pedestrians and cyclists along the route, akin to the approach taken on the Liffey path from War Memorial Gardens to Chapelizod.

While this interim scheme is separate from the wider works to improve the linear park, it should be made crystal clear that this travel scheme will not undermine or replace that important project, which is already have positive impacts at the mid-eastern section of the park.

The gate to the park at Rialto Bridge (pictured below) is ugly and should be removed. It effectively prevents wheelchair access to the park, causes hassle at busy times, and blocks larger prams. One or two simple metal bollards would fulfil the function of blocking car access while providing a more accessible and attractive entryway.

4. Suir Road junction

The bike scheme is particularly welcome because of the linkages it provides from the Grand Canal route into the city centre. This should help reduce car traffic passing through the area and give people more positive options.

However, the junction at Suir Road is still a hostile weak point in the scheme. Interventions, redesigns and light changes should be considered to allow cyclists and pedestrians more easily cross from the Grand Canal path to the linear park. Without a fix here, I think it will be a major weak point in an otherwise useful cycle route to the city centre from as far away as Clondalkin, Lucan and eventually Naas.

5. Opening up Basin Lane and Basin View

This scheme touches on a key street for the route’s success: Basin View/Basin Lane. With a few schools on it, it is a major argument for this scheme to go in.

With some minor drilling work, the kerbs in the middle of the road (pictured above) could be dropped to allow people to more easily cycle and walk through the space, while still blocking through traffic from cars. This would make it easier for people to cycle to school and also make it more of a viable route for people going to town.

It’s not part of the scheme’s target area, but is a closely related easy win.

6. Fixing Forbes Lane

Forbes Lane is a really tight, tricky space to work with. The current design (two-way bike traffic with one-way car traffic) would be an improvement on the status quo, but it is worth examining if even an advisory lane could be painted on the citybound side of the road. This would give clarity to all road users that cyclists are allowed to cycle contraflow here.

When the permanent scheme is being examined, Dublin City Council should consider taking some of the space to the south east of the lane to give a bit more space for properly segregated cycling in both directions.

7. Improving Marrowbone Lane cycling

The very positive scheme seems to run out of steam somewhat at Marrowbone Lane, but there is a difficult pinch point at the eastern part of the road.

For the permanent scheme, there should be consideration given to narrowing the northern footpath (more than 5m wide for a relatively low-traffic space) to allow for fully segregated two-way cycling along the stretch.

8. Thomas Court protections

The introduction of contraflow cycling on Thomas Court is a really important part of this project and is really welcome. However, the current plan for it is almost totally unprotected for cyclists.

Even if segregation is not yet possible to meet DFB’s requirement for 3.6 from “kerb to kerb”, an advisory painted contraflow lane should be installed. This would not reduce the physical carriageway for DFB, but would slow car traffic speeds and give cyclists extra certainty.

Overall, I think this scheme will be a really positive change for the area. I commend the team for the great work they have done, would encourage them to look with an open mind at the feedback, and work to tweak and improve the scheme in the weeks and months following its implementation.