Dublin – not yet getting the point about cycling

I like Dublin and they are trying to develop their roads to create a better environment for cycling, but like a lot of cities they have a way to go yet.

This photo says a lot about the environment for cycle commuters in the city

It’s on the main road along the North Bank of the Liffey, part of my route to Dublin Ferryport and used by a lot of commuters including cyclists. The cycle lane indicates the city’s intention to provide safer routes for cyclists but the photo shows what an intimidating situation is can be. Nothing is quite as scary as being squeezed by a couple of buses, not to mention the fumes from their engines.

A little further on relief is (apparently) at hand with a smooth stretch of cycle track along Custom House Quay

So they have an apparently perfect alternative cycle route that avoids a busy road, but cyclists can only use it if nobody else wants it. I think Brighton have something similar.

That’s not all, this very attractive looking track isn’t all it appears to be. For example it has quite a few of these:

The section ahead has been restricted by a restaurant building so cyclists have to rejoin the traffic, including heavy trucks and buses, pounding along the main road. I’ll say nothing about that red van but the festival organisers with their barriers left him nowhere to unload except the cyclepath exit.

Here’s another problem requiring cyclists to dismount (there are four of five of these pinch points along the half-mile route)

That temporary compound (I’m fairly sure it was there when I last visited more than a year ago) is just a builders yard for storing machinery and materials. Looking in through the entrance I can see no reason why if could not be a metre or so smaller to allow a proper shared path. Nobody really cares about cyclists do they?

You’ll also notice that the path is intended for two-way cycle traffic. This is really interesting as you’ll see below.

Here the cyclists are not allowed across the narrow footway beside the bridge, instead the must join the traffic. Not too problematic you might think except there is no explanation of what cyclists must do if they are coming the other way, towards us. It’s just not thought through. The city want to show they are doing something for cyclists but at the slightest difficulty they walk away and dump the problem back on the cyclists. You’ll notice that at the bridge, motorists feel absolutely no pinch or inconvenience, it’s the cyclists and pedestrians who have to put up with second-best. Actually there’s enough width on that bridge to flow a cycle lane in alongside the motor traffic with a physical barrier between the two, A bit tight for everybody but that bridge is wider than a traffic lane has to be.

I’ve picked on Dublin here but this is pretty universal. Road planners feel they would like to help if they can, politicians make the right noises, but there are no minimum standards and no concept that cycling makes sense as transport only if it is possible to make steady progress at the bike’s normal speed of 10-15 mph. The message is, “Stop-Start, Dismount-Remount, Weave back and forth between road and cycle path, we’ll have to block this bit for a few years while they build that office block over the road. Oh sorry, we’ve run out of enthusiasm so you are on your own for the next bit.”

Imagine if motorway builders planned to close their roads on Sundays for a giant street market, and every 10 miles or so, inserted half a mile of cart track. That’s what it feels like.

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