‘PARKING PROTECTED’ CYCLE lanes have moved a step closer to reality in Dublin city centre.
A feasibility study carried out on behalf of the National Transport Authority (NTA) has outlined the impact and estimated cost of creating a 900-metre cycle lane along Fitzwilliam Place to Merrion Square East/Holles Street.
The proposed design, labelled the Georgian Parkway, would see parked cars create a buffer between the cycle lane and traffic. It’s a method used in a number of other countries.
If successful, the route could be extended to other nearby streets.
The project was proposed by Fine Gael Councillor Dr Paddy Smyth last year. It is supported by all eight councillors in the Pembroke-South Dock ward, the area where the plan would be developed.
Yesterday, Dublin City Council’s transport committee discussed the feasibility report.Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube
Speaking to TheJournal.ie after the meeting, Smyth said it’s “hugely important” Dublin is made safer for cyclists.
“I myself saw someone being knocked off a bike recently. It’s really dangerous.”
Smyth, who represents the Rathgar-Rathmines area, said drivers backing out from parking spaces “with the best will in the world, won’t see a cyclist if there’s a van in front of them, it’s an accident waiting to happen”.
The onus is on the city to provide more safe cycling networks. This model does that. If it’s successful, and I see no reason that it wouldn’t be, it could be extended to other Georgian streets.
Smyth said the streets in question are 50-feet wide at their narrowest point, so “there’s more than enough room”.
The cost of creating the 900-metre stretch would be in the region of €786,000 to €1.1 million, according to the report.
“It sounds like a lot of money, but it’s not in terms of transport infrastructure.
“We don’t need to take away a single centimetre in paving, it would actually increase the amount of paving available to pedestrians. The budget impact and return is actually very good,” Smyth says.
He adds that the plan would involve reconfiguring laneways and repainting the markings in different places.
Smyth believes funding could be sourced from a number of places apart from the NTA and the Department of Transport if necessary, including the Department of the Environment, the European Union and Fáilte Ireland.
“It would be a huge thing for tourism. It’s a transport issue but also a public realm and public amenity issue. There are a few places that funding could be legitimately sourced for this. I want to get this done quickly.”
Smyth said the project would ideally be completed before Dublin hosts Velo-city 2019, the European Cyclists’ Federation’s Annual Global Cycling Summit, due to be held in the capital in two years’ time.
The Department of Transport did not respond to a request for comment, but Transport Minister Shane Ross recently told the Dáil his department has been working closely with the NTA in recent months “to develop an approach to tackling congestion in Dublin”.
Ross said plans put forward by the NTA “will make real progress in relieving congestion in the city, in moving people to efficient bus services and bus corridors, in improving cycling facilities and in being part of what has been the government’s policy and vision for a very long time”.
Segregated cycle lanes were proposed by the NTA last month as part of its €1 billion BusConnects plan.
Impact on parking
Smyth believes the ”main objection” to the plan will be the impact it could have on parking in the area.
As part of the feasibility report, a parking survey was carried out on 6 and 7 December 2016, at various times from 7am to 5pm on both days. The results indicated that 1pm was the busiest parking time.
The report states: “The results of the analysis indicate that whilst parking would be reduced by 139 spaces in the proposed design, at the peak period on the busiest day, the design was just short (4 spaces) of the required capacity.”
It adds that, during the design process, “more options to maximise parking could be considered”.
The report continues: “It is also worth noting that the survey was completed in December, during the build-up to the busiest retail period of the year. Based on the results … it is not anticipated that the design results in a notable loss of paid parking revenue.
Further assessment will be required when a preferred option has been chosen to determine the precise revenue impact as a result of road/parking layout changes.
Plans are already underway to restrict traffic in many areas of the city as part of other proposals, leading to criticism from some businesses about the negative effect this could have on their revenue.
‘Proper cycling infrastructure needed’
The Dublin Chamber, which represents businesses in the area, is behind Smyth’s proposals.
Graeme McQueen told TheJournal.ie the plans are “really exciting”.
“The number of people cycling in Dublin continues to grow at a fast pace. It is important that infrastructure is put in place to support this growth.
Cycling in many parts of Dublin remains far too dangerous. The idea of protecting that is commonplace in cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam and Dublin Chamber is delighted to see this type of design being considered for Dublin. We’d like to see more of this in all parts of the city.
“Proper cycling infrastructure will help to encourage good cycling behaviour in Dublin and increased mutual respect between the different transport modes.
“Better transport infrastructure and more intelligent use of street space is in everyone’s interests. We would expect businesses and the people who work in the Fitzwilliam Street area to benefit greatly from the proposed changes.”
In terms of other impacts the project could have, the feasibility report notes: “The proposed scheme is low impact and as such substantial excavations are not anticipated.
“However, it is possible that limited excavations may be required within the existing roadway as part of service diversions. It is possible that any such works may have an adverse impact on archaeological deposits that may survive beneath the current road surface.
“No direct impacts are anticipated on any of the protected structures that flank the proposed scheme…
“The overall proposed scheme will require changes to the existing road layout, which already contains modern street furniture, signage and islands. Changes that are sympathetic to the built heritage environment are likely to result in an overall positive impact.”
Smyth said his work as a GP, coupled with the issue being raised by constituents, compelled him to look into the issue of cycling safety.
“My day job is as a GP, the most chronic illnesses I deal with stem from the sedentary lifestyle engineered by our city … I got into this from a clinical perspective in the first place.
“People want their children to be able to cycle into school, but don’t allow them to as the safety measures are not there.”
Smyth says that if protected cycle lanes become a reality he’s “convinced a lot more people will cycle”.
Ultimately, he’d like to see the route – if it becomes a reality – linked up with the Grand Canal cycle route and the Dodder Greenway once it’s completed.
The full feasibility report can be read here.