Danger for Cyclists: Here's a Place to be Careful, Part III

Two major roads, and a couple of smaller ones, spider off from Portobello Bridge, and it’s a spot where one collision and two near misses have been flagged on our cycle collision tracker map. All of the cyclists had slightly different stories.

Heading south over the bridge from Richmond Street South and north from Rathmines Road Lower, heavy traffic, including buses, crosses the bridge each day. Cyclists contend with vehicles heading onto the bridge from Grove Road, Canal Road, Charlemont Hall, and Richmond Row, and find themselves at a swollen junction with competing traffic flows.

Two of the three readers who marked near misses on our map said they almost had collided with cars turning near the bridge.

As one cyclist told it, a car “taking a left turn onto Portobello Bridge without indicating” caused him to hit the passenger door of the vehicle as he was coming alongside.

Cyclists turning onto the bridge are forced to slug slowly up onto it in order to gain any momentum, as the bridge itself is on a slope. The slope itself causes something of a blind spot, making it difficult to see oncoming traffic, which only complicates matters further.

Although cycle lanes are clearly defined running along each side of the canal, only one side of the bridge – the side going in the direction of Rathmines Road Lower – has a cycle lane at all, so cyclists on the other side, are squeezed near to the footpath. Some cyclists on Friday morning simply walked their bike over the bridge instead of risking it.

Another cyclist who wrote in recalled his experience while waiting at the traffic lights on the bridge heading north into the city. When the lights turned green “a driver, who was heading south on Richmond Street South attempted a quick turn right onto Richmond Row”. Had the driver not seen him “at the last second”, he says, “he would have ploughed straight into me”.

Mieke O’ Brien, who was heading down Grove Road on Tuesday morning, cycles that way towards Portobello Bridge each day for work. In the early mornings, she says, it’s navigable enough – but when traffic picks up, she dismounts and uses the pedestrian crossings. O’Brien hasn’t had any serious incidents yet, but due to the congested nature of the spot, she says she “doesn’t know why” and counts herself lucky.

The major roads leading off the bridge have also proved tricky for some cyclists. One cyclist wrote in to tell us that, while cycling his daughter to work up Rathmines Road Lower, they were “squeezed up against the kerb by a bus that overtook us and moved from right to left towards the kerb”.

Heading south on Rathmines Road Lower, the first bus stop on the left (where this incident occurred) is only a short distance past the bridge, meaning buses and cyclists are competing for the space running alongside the footpath.

Possible Improvements

It might help to relocate the bus stop further up Rathmines Road Lower, ensuring that larger vehicles such as buses are not forced to stop quite so soon after exiting the bridge.

Also, a clearly defined cycle lane on the bridge, heading north towards Richmond Street South, might urge motorists turning onto the bridge to proceed with more caution.

Brian Reddy often cycles near Portobello Bridge and it can be, he says, a scary spot for cyclists. Yet he praises the cycle lane which now runs up Richmond Street South after the bridge.

“It’s dangerous but I think it is getting better,” he says.

As a cyclist and health economist, Reddy thinks there’s still a lot to be done with this particular spot, but that by getting people cycling “you’re just saving lives, left, right and centre”.

He’d like to see more contraflow lanes in Dublin. “Little things like that are going to make a huge difference,” he said.

And O’Brien? She would like to see traffic lights at Canal Road, which she reaches from Grove Road, making it a little clearer when it’s safe to straddle the bridge.

This is the third story in our series zooming in on intersections where city cyclists have had collisions or near misses. If you’ve had – or nearly had – an accident, let us know by marking it on our cycle collision tracker map and filling in the questions. You can read about other intersections we’ve looked at here and here


Cónal Thomas: Cónal Thomas is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer.

Reader responses

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Ciarán Ferrie
at 23 March 2016 at 15:39

I travel this route daily and agree with the assessment but it can be easily solved.

There is no reason why the bridge couldn’t be reduced to a single lane of traffic in each direction – in both cases traffic merges immediately after it leaves the bridge anyway. If it were to merge before reaching the bridge it would leave ample space for cyclists. This would also allow space for a dedicated right turn box for cyclists going from the bridge to the segregated cycle lane on Charlemont Mall – a tricky manoeuvre at the best of times.

The left turn to Richmond Row could be blocked at peak times, in the same way it is further up the road at Lennox Street, to avoid potential collisions with cars turning across the cycle lane.

at 23 March 2016 at 19:37

Unfortunate news on the Charlemont bridge adjacent to this bridge today :((( [http://irishcycle.com/2016/03/23/…

Lois Kapila
at 24 March 2016 at 09:08

@austin: I just saw that report, Austin. I really hope she gets better soon. I looked on our map and we have collisions marked at Portobello bridge, and the one the other side of Charlemont bridge at bottom of Leeson Street Lower, and a couple a bit down the road from that intersection, but none on that bridge.

Lois Kapila
at 24 March 2016 at 09:09

@Ciarán Ferrie: Those seems like really sensible ideas.

Anthony Fox
at 24 March 2016 at 10:15

Amien Street, Lincoln Lane can be very dangerous. For example I exited the carpark on Lincoln Lane on bicycle to ride straight across it, looked left for upcoming traffic and ‘BANG’ – another cyclist was going downhill against the one way traffic flat out and crashed straight into me. It took me a month to recover and I’m still struggling with memory loss. In this case the other cyclist left me there. If that was a car accident a proper ‘hit and run’ investigation would have been normal.

We need a continuous bike lane from Fairview Strand, ballybough, summerhill Parade, Parnell Street that brings one to the Liffey etc. Even a scheme that puts clear marking for cyclists on all roads. Surely it’s not that expensive to properly Mark roads for safety.

Capel Street, Parliament Street upto Christchurch.

Please look at linking cycle lanes in our city. Where are cities through routes?

O Connell Street is highly dangerous with 12 ton buses pulling in and out with blatant disregard for cyclists. It’s a 30KM ZONE!

Thanks for this platform.

Miranda Black
at 4 May 2016 at 16:00

How about the amount of cyclists who run the red light at this junction, and slam into cars, lorries, buses and pedestrians? I promise you that if you were to stand at that junction, just outside the Grove Road cafe for example (or sit inside having a coffee) at rush hour in the morning, you would be appalled at the cyclists who do this and therefore give the rest of ye a bad name.

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