I have sent the following response to the Bus Connects Core Bus Corridor consultation:
I welcome the development of proposals to give better priority to public transport and cycling through the Core Bus Corridors. All of the recommendations below are made to improve the proposals, rather than to reject them. In some instances the changes needed are small, while in others, substantial reconsideration is needed. There is some distance to go to finalise the proposals to really serve the goals of a quality urban environment and efficient urban transport, and I make this submission in order to urge the necessary changes.
There are significant positive proposals in the plans as regards walking and cycling, e.g. the plan to remove the roundabouts on the Malahide Road which are so hostile to people walking and cycling. However, there are many elements of the proposals which are not acceptable in the way they provide for people walking and cycling. Most of the criticisms and recommendations below apply to that route. The new design still mixes buses and bicycles in a way which is clearly undesirable.
The proposals don’t sufficiently respect the policy established in all of the Dublin local authorities which gives priority, in order, to walking, cycling, use of public transport and use of private motor vehicles. In many instances, the proposals compromise the safety and effectiveness of walking and cycling in order to improve bus priority, when the allocation of less road space and less priority to private motor vehicles would enable walking, cycling and public transport all to be promoted.
Examples of elements in the designs which need to be changed:
- Staggered pedestrian crossings;
- Left turn slips;
- Cycle lanes in multilane roads;
- Mixing of cyclists back from segregated cycle tracks onto the carriageway at junctions on major roads, instead of providing for full segregation through junctions;
- Mixing of cyclists and buses at bus stops instead of using island bus stops;
- Use of “shared space” especially at junctions in a way which puts people walking and cycling into conflict;
- Placing of cycle tracks immediately adjacent to bus lanes in 50 and 60km zones with no buffer zone
In some places, the CBC proposals have avoided the above unacceptable and dangerous elements; however in many locations, these flawed designs are proposed. Where the above elements appear in the proposals they are typically in conflict with guidance including the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets, the National Cycling Manual, and best practice including in the Netherlands as set out in their Design Manual for Bicycle Traffic.
The widening of roads should not automatically be the first response to the goal of achieving better priority for walking, cycling and buses. Instead there should be much wider use of measures to give buses priority, without always achieving full separation. The use of traffic signals to achieve bus priority as seen at Eden Quay should be considered much more. Similarly, buses will often be able avoid delays if they share a lane with local access traffic while through traffic is required to take a different route (either in one or both directions).
Such approaches would also produce much better streets and roads for all, including those who are using them other than for travel – people who use them as public space, who wait for buses, and people who live and work on and near them.
The opportunity to redesign hundreds of kilometres of streets and roads should be an opportunity to improve them, looking at them as public space, not merely as transport corridors. The designs need to be clear about planting, of trees, shrubs, grass, and other vegetation. They should avail of the opportunity to improve the sustainability of water management by the use of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems, including rain gardens, in order to both improve surface water quality and reduce flooding risks. As well as ensuring that essential deliveries are catered for in loading bays either on the bus corridor route or immediately adjacent, the plans should include benches and bicycle parking, both at bus stops and at other appropriate locations on the routes. People should be able to look at the Core Bus Corridor as a process which improves their local street and road.
Redesigning in accordance with the approach advocated above would be consistent with the changes needed to bring about the required drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector.
Cllr. David Healy