Council Briefs: BusConnects and Cyclists, the Liffey Cycle Route, and Getting More of the Amber Man

BusConnects and Cyclists

At the moment, it’s looking as if cyclists will be diverted away from three of the main roads along some of the BusConnects routes, in places where road widths are narrower.

At last week’s meeting of Dublin City Council’s transport committee, National Transport Authority Chief Executive Anne Graham showed councillors plans for a second batch of core bus corridors.

The six routes, which are part of the BusConnects plan to overhaul the city’s bus infrastructure, are out for public consultation until 29 March.

These ones link Liffey Valley to the city centre, Clondalkin to Drimnagh, Greenhills to the city centre, Tallaght to Terenure, Kimmage to the city centre, and Rathfarnham to the city centre.

The NTA is trying to get a segregated cycle track and footpath in each direction, alongside segregated bus lanes and traffic lanes, too. “But Dublin’s roads and streets make it challenging to deliver this layout,” Graham said.

On the Greenhills route, for example, there is a proposed “off-line” cycle route along Kildare Road in Crumlin.

Sinn Féin Councillor Ray McHugh said he couldn’t see cyclists coming down Crumlin Road and then turning off down Kildare Road when going straight on is easier. “I’d be concerned that cyclists would continue on straight. We need some safety there for cyclists because I don’t think that’s going to work.”

NTA Deputy Chief Executive Hugh Creegan said they accept not all cyclists will use that diversion. “Our problem is we can’t fit everything in, that’s our problem. Something has to give.”

He said they’ve tried to put in reasonable alternatives. “And in the case of Kildare Road, that actually is a more direct alternative for a lot of cyclists, and may be attractive.”

Those who don’t turn off, and stay on Crumlin Road could use the bus lane, he said. “Which is safer than merging with general traffic.”

The consultation is ongoing, he said. “We’d love to be able to put in a segregated cycle route along there as well. […] If anybody has any ideas of what we should do to make it better, we’ll certainly listen to them.”

The four corridors in phase one were published in November. The consultation period for the Swords and Blanchardstown routes has been extended to 1 March, but consultation for the Clongriffin and Lucan routes is set to end on 15 February.

The final six corridors that form phase three of the plan will be published in mid-February, according to Graham.

Liffey Cycle Route

It’s been almost a year and a half since the National Transport Authority (NTA) took over design of the Liffey Cycle Route, and said it would analyse the plans from scratch and comb through all the options, said council Executive Manager Brendan O’Brien.

“We had hoped that we would be getting a report in January on the emerging preferred or the preferred option. That is not ready at the moment,” he told members of the council’s transport committee.

A lot of work has been done on it, O’Brien said, and he hopes it will be ready for the next transport committee meeting, in April.

Sinn Féin Councillor Ciaran O’Moore said cyclists around Liberty Hall and Custom House Quay “are taking their lives in their hands … [S]omething has to be done with this, and it has to be done fairly quick.”

Colm Ryder of the Dublin Cycling Campaign called the delays “frustrating for people in general who cycle”. The report was due in April 2018, and because the next transport meeting isn’t until April, the report will be a year late, he said.

“There’s been no communication with the cycling community in relation to why this is happening, what the difficulties are, what issues are being considered. So some consideration or answer in that respect would be useful,” he said.

Crossing the Road

It’s how long the amber light flashes on pedestrian crossings that’s critical to safety, said council Executive Manager Brendan O’Brien, at last week’s transport committee meeting.

“The safety time does not depend on the green time. It doesn’t matter how long the green time is,” he says.

That’s because the green man is an invitation to cross – usually for six seconds – while the amber-light time is calculated as “if the last person had stepped off at the very last moment of the green”, O’Brien said.

So he presented a new proposal to extend the timing of amber pedestrian signals across the city. This is instead of extending both amber and green signals, as proposed at the last transport committee meeting in November.

At that previous meeting, Green Party Councillor Ciarán Cuffe had put forward a motion that the “green man” period be increased by one second to facilitate more-vulnerable road users. And Sinn Féin Councillor Ciaran O’Moore had proposed amending the motion by adding a second onto the amber signals also.

The motion as amended was agreed, and O’Brien presented a report following on from that at last week’s meeting. His proposal was based on research by the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) at Trinity College, he said.

O’Brien said the council gave TILDA all available data on pedestrian crossing times and road widths. TILDA then studied people’s walking speed as they age.

Amber crossings are based on an average walking speed of 1.2 metres per second, which is set out in the traffic-signs manual of the Department of Transport. O’Brien said the council is proposing to change that to 1 metres per second, in line with research on people’s walking speed as they age.

“From a safety point of view, if they’ve stepped off at the last second of green, we’ve a duty to take them across the road safely. And that’s really what we’re proposing,” he said. “What we propose to do is to start to implement this.”

Councillors at the meeting broadly welcomed the proposal.

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