The Dublin Cycling Campaign is an independent, voluntary lobby group that has been working to improve the city for all cyclists for over a decade and a half.
2009-12-11 Samuel Beckett Bridge
The Samuel Beckett Bridge across the Liffey in Dublin Docklands was officially opened on 10th of December 2009. These photos were taken the day afterwards when the bridge was opened to general traffic. It is a beautiful piece of engineering and urban design.
Page 18 of the National Cycle Policy Framework sets out the Hierarchy of Solutions which designers should consider when designing for cyclists and the order in which they should be considered. The Bridge is an excellent example of the preferred solutions as we have explained on this post on our Best Practice Blog. Unfortunately this is marred by the provision of unusable cycle lanes everywhere.
This post will look at the problems in detail. Each piece of text refers to the photo below it.
Approaching Westbound from the North Wall
You approach the Bridge from the two-way cycle track on the Campshires. First there is an chicane of traffic cones, swiftly followed by a series of new poles which are placed in the cycle track.
Next you come to this brand new arrangement. Note the line of circular steel studs in the granite on the left. This marks the left of the original two way cycle track.
The left part of the two-way cycle lane now switches to the right hand side and is squeezed into a 950 mm wide cycle track which is queezed in between the granite bollards and a general vehicle lane.
What happens to the cycle track going Eastbound in opposite direction. Presumably, those cyclists also switch from cycling on the left to the right.
Note the new traffic light pole is in the cycle track.
Having survived this you then presumably switch back to the left, being careful to miss the cyclists coming towards you who are switching to the right.
Note that no buffer has been provided to protect cyclists from hitting the opening doors of the parked cars.
Now a barrel full of concrete in the cycle track.
Note the line of circular steel studs in the granite pavement. This marks the edge of the cycle track as the surface material changes from asphalt to granite.
And a van blocking the entire cycle track.
Note also the Kassel kerbing for a future bus stop is placed right in the cycle track.
Now you're clearly getting near the bridge...
...just as the cycle track ends in the middle of the pavement with no way onto the road. Note where it says END.
You get back on the road, remount and finally get to the bridge. Note the cycle logos without any cycle lane marked.
From here you can go right or straight.
Note that no left turns are permitted. It is a shame that cyclists have not been exempted from this by adding a small white plate below with "EXCEPT CYCLISTS" as allowed for in the regulations.
Note the different pavement treatment on the left hand side. Is a future cycle track planned here to allow cyclists to turn left? Is there sufficient visibility given the railing? Note also that the future track ends abruptly in the middle of the pavement.
From North Wall Westbound to Guild St.
You cycle in the traffic, move over into the right hand lane, and turn right into Guild St.
In Guild St. a well designed mandatory cycle lane has been provided. However, someone has illegally parked in it...
The problem is solved an hour later when somebody puts some traffic cones in the cycle lane to stop illegal parking. Continue on to see if the new Luas is any better designed. More on this another day...
North Wall Straight on to Continue Along the North Wall.
We were here approaching the junction with the Beckett Bridge on the North Wall going Westbound.
Continue cycling safely in the traffic to cross the junction. On the far side the Campshires cycle-track reappears.
Then, having made you leave your position in the traffic it abruptly ends about 75 m later with a sharp right turn dropping you straight back onto the North Wall Road. What is the point of this?
From here the route continues in an equally bad manner as described in this previous post.
We still haven't made it on to the bridge as there was no left turn from the North Wall Westbound. Lets try from a different direction.
Guild St. Straight on to the Samuel Beckett Bridge.
You are cycling down Guild St. towards the Bridge.
There is a mandatory cycle lane on the left hand side. However the left hand lane has a mixture of left-turning and straight-on traffic. The cycle lane places you in the one place you should not be, on the left of the left turning traffic putting you at risk of a collision at the junction.
If the lane was advisory and not mandatory you could have moved to the centre of the left hand lane and carry safely on through the junction. Alternatively, stop at wait until the lights turn red. Then wait until they complete a full cycle and turn green again.
North Wall Eastbound Turning Right onto the Bridge.
You are cycling Eastbound along the North Wall.
Firstly note that this brand new cycle lane is a substandard 1.4 m wide.
Then note that this line of parking/loading bays has no buffer putting you at risk of hitting opening car doors. The cycle lane places you in the one place where it is typically least appropriate to cycle.
The problems caused by substandard widths soon become apparent. A 1.4 m advisory cycle lane has been marked in a 4.0 m wide general vehicle lane leaving a mere 2.6 m for the HGV in the photo. How does this improve the safety of cyclists?
Note again that the cycle lane has been marked on the left of a lane with left-turning traffic placing cyclists who are carrying straight-on in a position which is typically the least appropriate to adopt. Luckily, you're turning right.
Look, indicate and move into the right turn lane cycling safely in the traffic. You have finally made it to the Bridge!
Crossing the Bridge Southbound
You enter the bridge Southbound and are faced with this:
First note the bus lane sign. It is a regular bus lane sign but a sticker has been put over the cyclist on it to try to exclude cyclists from the bus lane. Note the darker blue rectangular sticker below the bus on the sign. This sign is not in the Road Traffic (Signs) Reguations. Therefore it is not legal to exclude cyclists from this bus lane. Technically, the bus lane is not even in force as it does not have the signage required by the regulations.
It is common practice to provide short lengths of 3.25 m bus lane as shown here in Belgium, France, Germany and the UK. Cyclists cycle in the centre of the lane and the narrow width discourages overtaking within the lane. Why are cyclists excluded here? Is it from a mistaken belief that they will slow down the buses? Or a mistaken belief that they will be safer using the substandard off-road cycling faciities?
Note also the shared pavement sign. This is not in the Road Traffic (Signs) Reguations either and so has no legal basis. Does this mean that cyclists who cycle on this footpath are technically breaking the law? In any case what is proposed is the inappropriate mixing of fast cyclists in two directions with pedestrians. This puts all users of the footpath in conflict.
Note also the sharp bump to get onto this pavement...
Samuel Beckett Bridge Turning Right to Sir John Rogerson's Quay Westbound.
There is no right turn for cyclists who are on the road or on the shared use pavement. This is one case where a small piece of infrastructure to permit cyclists to turn right might have been useful.
In fact, there is no indication at all to cyclists on how they are supposed to get from the shared use footpath to their destination. There are no signs or markings. For comparison see this example from Paris which explains to cyclists the options available on the approach to the junction.
Cycle routes should be understandable to cyclists using them for the first time. If not then people will purposely or inadvertently behave inappropriately. Note the cyclists and pedestrian are in conflict below.
Having dismounted you can cross the street as a pedestrian. Note that at cycle track perversely starts in the middle of the pavement a few metres from the edge of the street. There is no legal way to cycle into this. Walk over and remount.
A few metres later you are dropped back on the road with another sharp bump...
Continuing on you find suddenly find yourself in a two-way cycle lane. You are on the right hand side of a general vehicle lane going in the same direction. There are no lines on the road to mark the cycle lanes. There is no indication anywhere that this is a construction site or that the facility is not fully open or finished. Proceed with caution.
At the end of the street Yield or Stop depending on which sign catches your eye.
Note the sign on the right. STOP! CRIOCH!
This is an entirely new idea which the Road Traffic (Signs) Reguations don't explain. There will finally be some equality among road users when general vehicles lanes can suddenly end abruptly, as the cycle lanes do almost everywhere. Will car drivers have to get out and push their cars off the street?
From Beckett Bridge Going Straight on to Cardiff Lane or Left to Sir John Rogersons Quay Eastbound.
You were going South along the shared footpath on the Bridge. This time swing left to get on to Sir John Rogerson's Quay. Watch out for pedestrians at the corner where the visibility is poor.
Almost straight after the Bridge the shared use footpath abruptly ends. You cannot access the road to turn right or go straight on along the Quays. Cycle track type pavement continues on but it is not designated a cycle track due to the construction works beyond.
From Sir John Rogerson's Quay Eastbound to Samuel Beckett Bridge
You are going Eastbound on Sir John Rogerson's Quay.
A contra-flow cycle lane has been provided but there is no line to divide it from the oncoming traffic in this one way street.
The cycle lane goes up onto the footpath with a sharp bump.
There are no visual or textured markings to separate the cycle track from the pavement.
The cycle track then ends abruptly in the middle of the pavement. There is a different cycle track on the bridge but there is a gap of a few metres between them.
From Cardiff Lane to Samuel Beckett Bridge
You are heading Northbound on Cardiff Lane. Pick a lane and cycle safely in the centre of the lane in general traffic. Make the left turn.
You are now on Sir John Rogerson's Quay heading Westbound. Look, indicate and move into the centre of the right hand lane and approach the bridge...
You are then faced with these three confusing signs. Two cycle tracks have appeared but it is not clear where they are and where they go to. On clearer inspection it is not possible to get into either as they both start in the middle of the footpath. The one on the right crosses the Bridge.
Note the detail of the signs.
Again a blue rectangular sticker has been stuck on the sign to cover up the cyclist that should be marked below the bus. This is an attempt to ghettoise cyclists by illegally excluding them from the road. This sign is not in the Road Traffic (Signs) Reguations and has no legal basis.
What does the sign with the people and bike divided by the vertical line mean? It is not in the Road Traffic (Signs) Reguations either and has no legal meaning. Does this mean that cyclists cycling on the cycle track on the pavement are breaking the law by cycling on the pavement?
Dismount and walk over to the beginning of the cycle track and remount to cross the bridge.
Note that the cycle track across the bridge is a substandard 1.4 m wide.
As you get closer you realise it makes a sharp right turn to dump you back on the road with a yield sign.
Note also the signals in the photo. The left turning lane has a green signal for vehicles which are turning left. The general vehicle lane on the right has a red light. This delays cyclists even more in getting into the Advanced Stop Line.
Even worse, it dumps you into a sub-standard Advance Stop Line. These are the boxes to allow cyclists to wait in front of the lights and pull off from junctions first. They should be a minimum of 4.0 m long but this one is only 3.5 m long.
Note the Heavy Goods Vehicle and the position of the cyclist behind. The reason Advanced Stop Lines should never be less than 4.0 m long is that if they are smaller they encourage cyclists to position themselves in the blind spot directly in front of and below the Heavy Goods Vehicle's window. The risk is that the driver will not see the cyclist and pull off when the lights turn green causing a collision.
From here you can turn left or go straight on by carrying on by cycling in general traffic.
From Cardiff Lane to Samuel Beckett Bridge (Alternative Route)
You are heading Northbound on Cardiff Lane. There is an alternative possibility which you will not guess from the complete lack of signage to explain how cyclists are supposed to use the cycle tracks. The shared pavement on the East side of Samuel Beckett Bridge is a two way cycle path. Unfortunately there is no legal way to cycle onto this cycle track.
Dismount, cross the street into the shared footpath and cycle track and remount.