Update on Luas Track Cycling Issues
Progress is being made on solutions to the current difficulties.
Over the past couple of weeks Dublin Cycling Campaign has met with representatives of the National Transport Authority (NTA), Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), and Dublin City Council (DCC) to discuss the ongoing problems that the new Luas tracks are causing for people on bikes, especially in the city centre, and the urgent need for solutions to these problems.
Dublin Cycling Campaign has repeatedly drawn attention to the difficulties created by the new tram tracks and some of the serious injuries that people have suffered as a result of cycling crashes on them. Despite the fact that Luas trams have now been running on the new tracks for almost two months, people are continuing to suffer falls from their bikes, as was highlighted in this tweet by TheJournal.ie editor Susan Daly, whose husband suffered a fall and an injured elbow when cycling across the tracks last weekend.
Dublin Cycling Campaign met with the relevant transport authorities to seek clarification about some of the current issues and assurances about interventions to improve cycling conditions in the city centre, especially around College Green. Below is a list of the various topics that were discussed, along with proposed solutions:
“Cyclists Dismount” Signs at College Green and Dawson Street
Dublin Cycling Campaign expressed cyclists’ frustration with the signs and the antagonism they were causing towards cyclists, especially from drivers who misinterpret the signs as a legal obligation not to cycle along the tracks, which they are not.
The NTA acknowledged that misinterpretation of the signs by drivers was an issue, but reiterated that the NTA was uncomfortable with the idea of removing the signs completely, or promoting cycling in the area, due to the perceived dangers. But the NTA expressed a willingness to listen to suggestions for alternative wording on the signs, and Dublin Cycling Campaign is currently compiling a list of options.
Track Inserts and other Engineering Solutions
TII stated that at present there is no viable product is available on the market that can be inserted into the tracks to prevent bicycle wheels from getting caught. They continue to search for such a product and will be attending the next InnoTrans - https://www.innotrans.de/en/AtAGlance/Overall/ - conference in September 2018 to further research this issue.
Dublin Cycling Campaign has requested TII to compile a definitive report on track inserts so that the issue can either be properly explained or put to one side. They have agreed to do this.
TII will also investigate high-friction materials which can be placed alongside rails which may “catch” a slipping bicycle wheel, but also reduce any general vehicle skidding..
Alternative Cycling Routes
The NTA agreed to fast track the alternative cycling routes outlined in its October 2017 report on Cycling & Luas Cross City - https://www.nationaltransport.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/LCC_Cycling_…. Dublin Cycling Campaign strongly endorsed this proposal and pledged our support for the creation of alternative cycling routes.
NTA agreed to work with Dublin City Council to prioritise and fast-track these alternative cycling routes in 2018.
Dublin Cycling Campaign asked for more to be done to increase driver awareness of people on bikes, and for drivers to give cyclists appropriate time and space, especially around Luas tracks. This should include media and on site campaigns, and needs to be comprehensive
The NTA said it would seek clarification on whose responsibility this was, or should it be undertaken by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and An Garda Síochána.
Dublin Cycling Campaign/Cyclist.ie will also be meeting the RSA this month and will raise this issue with them directly.
Lack of Bicycle Parking
Dublin Cycling Campaign raised the fact that bicycle parking stands were removed from many areas of the city as part of Luas Cross City construction, and that most of those parking facilities have not been replaced.
The NTA acknowledged that parking stands had been removed and said it is currently working with Dublin City Council on a programme of works to install new bike parking stands around the city.
Dublin Cycling Campaign are also working directly with the City Council to target areas where bike parking does not meet demand, and are also seeking ongoing solutions to this issue throughout the City.
Lack of Accurate Data on Cycling Crashes
Dublin Cycling Campaign bemoaned the lack of accurate data on the number of cycling crashes caused by the new Luas tracks, or the nature of injuries sustained as a result of those crashes.
TII apparently has no comprehensive record of incidents or crashes around its worksite or along the new tracks since the system started operating. They agreed to liaise with Transdev (Luas operator) and Dublin Bus about creating a standardised form for reporting incidents on Luas tracks. TII said it was willing to look at examples of such standardised forms. Dublin Cycling Campaign have some examples of these..
General Legal Cycling Access to Luas Tracks across the City
Dublin Cycling Campaign raised the fact that in most other European cities it is quite normal for cyclists to use tram tracks as cycle lanes (just as bus lanes here are also cycle lanes). In Dublin city there are many sections of the Luas tracks where cycling is prohibited but people cycle there anyway, such as Benburb Street/Abbey St. We asked the TII and NTA’s opinions on normalising the usage of Luas tracks by cyclists and allowing exceptions where cyclists could use Luas tracks but other vehicles would be prohibited.
TII expressed reluctance to create shared Luas and cycling lanes at the moment, and also cited specific issues with traffic signalling and street alignments.
The NTA said it would reserve judgement on this issue until after the Liffey Cycle Route design has been finalised later this year.
Dublin Cycling Campaign will be following up on these issues over the coming weeks and months, and will keep you informed of any new developments.
Help us do more for cycling in Dublin, please consider getting involved.