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Cycling in cities has been in the spotlight, but what are traffic planners doing about it?

Dublin City Council says each fatality is reviewed to see if improvements can be made.

A warning to cyclists about the dangers of getting their tyres stuck in Luas tracks.
A warning to cyclists about the dangers of getting their tyres stuck in Luas tracks.
Image: Sam Boal/Boal/Rollingnews.ie

LAST MONTH, A vigil was held outside Leinster House in protest at the number of cyclists who’ve died on the roads this year.

At the time of writing 15 cyclists have died on Irish roads, making 2017 the deadliest year for cyclists in over a decade.

This has made the issue of safe cycling a vital one and none more so than in Dublin, where the Luas Cross City was accused of ignoring the needs of cyclists.

With a city growing ever busier, and a finite enough space available, Dublin City Council says planning for cyclists’ safety is something that remains a priority.

Brendan O’Brien of DCC’s traffic department says each tragedy is assessed to see if a repeat can be prevented.

“For any fatality that may happen we will speak to the guards to see if there’s anything that could be done on the roads, to see if anything needs to be changed,” he says.

Building out the whole cycling network in the city is part of that whole process of trying to make things a lot safer.

Dublin’s cycle network is one that is subject to great debate with cyclists and cycling groups arguing that making proper provision for cyclists is about more than painting lines on the road.

The Green Party were among those who criticised a September decision by the National Transport Authority to remove funding for a segregated cycleway along the Liffey from the Docklands to Heuston Station.

A segregated route exists for cyclists along the Grand Canal on Dublin’s south side but one is also planned for the north of the city. DCC’s plan will see that route run from the Convention Centre along the Royal Canal towards Ashtown.

O’Brien says that segregated routes for cyclists are certainly appropriate for some areas but that in others they are not needed.

On the main routes into the city, where higher speeds are the norm, segregated routes may be preferable but in the city they are less required, and perhaps les possible too given space constraints.

One such recent example has been the complaints that the construction of the Luas Cross City was undertaken without the needs and safety of cyclists being considered.

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O’Brien points out the controversial “cyclists dismount” signs that were put up near the Luas tracks around College Green were placed by the Luas operators and not Dublin City Council,  and are therefore safety advice rather than a legal direction.

Asked about whether the needs of cyclists were ignored when the route of the Luas Cross City was being designed, O’Brien says the charge doesn’t really stack up because the planners had little option.

“You’re putting a tram track into a very narrow space in the city, going down Dawson Street into Nassau Street, there is no space,” he says.

“So that would be a correct accusation if we had a lot of space and we didn’t make any specific provision, but there’s barely room for the two trams. There’s certainly no room either side for cyclists.”

You can can make the same argument elsewhere, the State built billions on building up motorways and cyclists can use motorways. We’re not saying they can’t use tram tracks, but we are saying ‘look, you’ve got to be careful’.

Read: Peter McVerry Trust to provide new accommodation for 100 people and 24 families before Christmas >

Read: Councillors vote to strip Aung San Suu Kyi of the Freedom of Dublin >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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