The Bus Connects Project represents a great opportunity to make Dublin a more liveable city. The original plan and concepts are all excellent, in terms of changing the bus network so that it creates a more efficient system that gets people around, and encourages more people to use buses, reducing car use, and leaving more space in cities for people.
However, the planning process needs to hear from the public, otherwise the older ideas of ripping motorway style roads through the fabric of our city will continue. We need to remind the planners about the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets (DMURS) and the National Cycle Manual and coax the engineers into copying best practices from elsewhere, including the Netherlands and Copenhagen. Otherwise, they will revert to the old-school ways, as they appear to have done with some of the draft plans.
The deadline for sending in your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org is next Wednesday, 16th December. I am sending my thoughts on the crossings to Islandbridge from Inchicore & Kilmainham, which are part of CBC6 and also some thoughts on Inchicore, which is on CBC7. I would encourage everyone who has the time to make a submission. Please feel free to copy and paste from below. The text and pictures will be tweaked over the next few days as I finalise what I send.
Dear Bus Connects
I am a resident in Inchicore, a cyclist, parent of children in Gaelscoil Inse Chór and very much a supporter of the Bus Connects project. I support the submission being made separately by Gaelscoil Inse Chór regarding pedestrian crossings for the junctions of Con Colbert Road with South Circular Road and Memorial Road.
I will comment on two junctions in particular, those between Con Colbert Road (R148) and Memorial Road (R839) and between Con Colbert Road and the South Circular Road (R111). The more worrying junction is that between the SCR and Con Colbert Road.
Junction of Con Colbert Road & South Circular Road (p94/R148 & R111)
I have grave concerns about the revised plans for this junction (p94 of the draft preferred route options report) because this junction remains hostile to vulnerable road users. The junction lies between the developing area of Islandbridge and the settled neighbourhoods of Inchicore/Kilmainham, in a part of the city where car ownership by households is at the lower end of the spectrum. In addition, the junction must be crossed by residents of Inchicore & Kilmainham to access the Memorial Park, The Phoenix Park and Gaelscoil Inchicore and the St. John of God services. This importance of these trips has increased during the Covid-19 crisis and a number of proposals were submitted to Dublin City Council for measures related to keeping this route safe for vulnerable road users during the pandemic.
Traffic leaving this junction will be caught in the existing bottlenecks at Heuston Station, Sarah Bridge in Islandbridge and at the Richmond Gate/Kilmainham Jail. There is no advantage in more than one lane of general traffic leaving the junction northwards, southwards or eastwards, as the tailbacks from these bottlenecks already have traffic backed up. I would suggest that it would be preferable to queue this traffic on the Con Colbert Road dual carriageway itself, to reduce pressure on the bottleneck areas, as the impact on journey times would be neutral.
To achieve this, only one lane of general traffic should exit the junction eastbound, with only one lane of traffic northbound and southbound (allowing for a second lane to start for right turning cars at Kilmainham Gaol, but closer to that junction where more space is available.
This would also mean that only one lane of traffic would be needed exiting Islandbridge Southbound towards the junction. This would also reduce conflict in traffic at the Kilmainham Gaol junction where motorists inadvertently find themselves in the right turn lane and have to merge back in with the southbound traffic.
For traffic coming northbound on the SCR towards the junction, the footpath in from 685-697 needs to be widened to reflect the volume of pedestrians here. The cycle lane also needs protection, as the current lane is usually blocked by traffic waiting to turn left onto the R148. The reality is that the left traffic lane is a left turn only lane, and the right lane should cover for traffic going towards Islandbridge and Heuston. With only one southbound traffic lane, this should be possible.
The width of the carriageways to be crossed by vulnerable road users at this junction is an issue. If the proposed plans were implemented, children would have to cross 3 lanes of traffic and a cycle lane to the island, and then a further 4 lanes to the refuge and then a wider turning lane.
Could the left hand side of this junction, as shown in the drawings, be considered for “protected junction” measures as planned by Dublin City Council in some other parts of the city, but with a cycling green light at the same time as the pedestrian light? This would allow for safer crossing of the road by vulnerable road users: narrowing the space to be crossed, and allowing parents with children on bicycles safely access the school. It would also formalise the safer route for cyclists exiting the protected cycle lane on Inchicore Road who then need to turn right to go down the hill to the Liffey Cycle Route via Heuston Station.
Only 2 general traffic lanes should approach the junction from the west, with a narrower left turning lane beside the bus lane. The pedestrian refuge should be placed between the general lanes and the bus lane, leaving children with a 2 lane + 2 lane crossing. I would also ask if raised crossings could be provided here, as have been provided at Heuston, as further protection and to nudge cars into slowing down.
In order to extend time for the left turn from St. John’s Road to SCR, consideration could be given to moving the pedestrian crossing into the middle of the junction, from the island on Con Colbert Road to the large island to the east of the junction. It might be possible to widen the parapet of the bridge over the railway at this point to provide extra space. This would also allow for diagonal crossing of the junction, from the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham side to the Memorial Park and schools.
Junction of Memorial Road & Con Colbert Road (p92/R148 & R391)
The drawings do not show where the 80km/h speed limit on the Chapelizod bypass is reduced. At present, a limit of 60km/h applies from the junction of Con Colbert Road with the Chapelizod Bypass (R833 and R148). I would request that this limit be reduced to 50km/k well before the junction of the R839 (Memorial Road) and R148, so that that crossing is safer for those of us crossing it with children and animals.
I would also ask, that in line with DMURS that this crossing would be a straight crossing without the planned dog leg at the centre. The expectation should be that most crossings of the road should take place in a single phase, and there should be reduced need for waiting in the centre of the dual carriageway.
The maximum speed at this junction should be 50km/h, and consideration should be given to ensuring that all the pedestrian crossings at this junction should be raised, and widened to 3-5m.
In addition to Gaelscoil Inchicore children going to school in Islandbridge, many children from Islandbridge walk through the park to schools in Inchicore. This is also the main entrance to the War Memorial Park for the western end of Inchicore.