It’s finally coming! I’ve been pushing for a long time for some kind of cycle protection along the South Circular Road, running from Suir Road Luas stop to the Phoenix Park.
Last September I set out an idea for a two-way segregated cycle track, but after discussing in detail with a city engineer, it seems like it wasn’t possible.
They’ve since put together a new package of measures, which involve lane changes, bollards (hopefully later becoming something nicer to look at!), and removal of a slip road.
Consultation on this closes on Thursday 15th of July, here. The consultation involves two simple questions: my answers are below.
The proposals are a really, really welcome change and would improve cycling and walking safety in the area. The lane changes and removal of the unncessary slip lane are both really good.
The main overall suggestion would be to go further than planned and more aggressively calm traffic flow, remove parking, and segregate lanes.
Ten specific ideas to improve on this current design:
1. Improve the bollards outside the Spar
This section is often the most congested, where the bike lane is generally useless due to short-term parking in the space. The design for this section seems to allow for something of a loading bay for Spar, with “stumpy” bollards on the road side of the gray hatched area.
This could be improved by also adding in taller bollards on the cycle lane side of the hatched area, meaning that some vehicles can still use the gray area for loading, without blocking the cycle lane fully.
Without some protection, this could be the main weak point in the design. This should be monitored closely, with a commitment to revisit the design after a month to see if it is working as intended, or if drivers are simply parking as before.
2. A new pedestrian crossing for Bulfin/SCR junction
The junction at the SCR/Bulfin Road is rightly signalised, but is missing a signal for pedestrians to cross on the eastern side of the junction.
This is a heavily used junction by pedestrians and it would be appropriate to add signals for safe crossing here.
3. A timeline for moving past plastic wands
The plan proposes to make extensive use of wands to protect the lanes. This is big progress and relatively cheap to install for a trial.
But in the long run the wands degrade quickly, get damaged, and even when new – they look a bit cheap and cluttery. There should be a clear plan to move away from them, once any problems from the initial works are complete.
4. Turnboxes for the bypass
The bypass crossing is difficult for cyclists going straight through. It is even more difficult if you are coming from south and want to turn east/into town on the bypass, or coming from the north and want to turn west/outbound.
This could be improved by using turn boxes, marked in blue in the image above. This would mean proceeding as if going straight, and then turning the bike to allow you to wait for the green light to proceed east or west. The image below is an example of what I mean.
5. Double check the hatch narrowing turning north onto SCR
One part of the plan is to put bollards along the hatching on the turn from the bypass north onto the SCR. This aims to stop traffic using the hatching as an informal second lane.
This makes sense, but in practice it might simply encourage cars to take the corner closer to the curb, squeezing in any cyclists.
The original plan for bollards is marked below in red. I would suggest looking again to see if the same effect can be achieved by instead segregating a bike lane, putting bollards on the blue line that I’ve added to the diagram. This could narrow the lane sufficiently to stop the practice of creating an extra lane, but would also protect cyclists making the turn.
6. Ditch the second lane going into town from Islandbridge
As you come from Islandbridge north up the South Circular Road, there’s a double slip lane heading east into town. I’d look at simply removing the slip lane and making it a straight left turn later.
But if that can’t be done, at least remove one of the two slip lanes going into town, making it just a single lane. It is fed by one lane on the SCR, so there is no need for two, and the extra space only encourages drivers to take the bend at speed, posing a great risk to cyclists.
Some hatching and a wider cycle lane could be used to narrow it down to one lane.
7. Cut the westside Islandbridge car parking
Islandbridge has a car park for the War Memorial Gardens and ample residential parking (undersubscribed in developments on both sides of the road).
It is too much of a compromise to not protect the bike lane on the westside stretch in order to preserve on-street car parking spaces. It would be better to extend the footpath, protect the lane, and remove the spaces.
8. Bridge changes
The bridge near Conyngham Road over the Liffey is a real challenge. The roadway is now wide, the space is difficult, and there is strong pedestrian demand.
The changes to make this a safer, better space are probably not lane changes, but some plans should be made to improve the function of the railings which narrow the footpath, waste some space on the roadside.
They could be replaced anyway solely only the grounds that they are mismatched and ugly for that picturesque bridge!
9. Pedestrian safety at the Conyngham Road junction
The bike slip lane changes are really worthwhile at the junction of the SCR and Conyngham Road. But to improve safety and priority for pedestrians, there should be a clear zebra crossing from them across the bike slip lane, to give them clear priority.
Otherwise it is unclear how they are supposed to safely cross that lane.
10. Tighten up those corners
These works are an opportunity for a few more related pro-cycling and walking safety measures. All along the stretch – particular the Suir Road end of the scheme – we should take this opportunity to remove the sweeping corners.
These wide, sloping corners are designed to allow cars continue at speed. The run a greater risk of cyclists being hit and mean that pedestrians have far more dangerous road space to cross. While we have works being done here, we should take the opportunity and tighten them up, essentially making the corners like the blue lines above.