Dublin city cyclists to trial new lanes inside parked cars

National Transport Authority to fund study in the city’s south Georgian core

Olivia Kelly reports on a new proposal by Dublin city councillor Paddy Smyth to use parked cars to protect cyclists travelling though the city’s south Georgian core of the city. Video: Bryan O’Brien

 

An initiative to improve cycling safety, by swapping the position of car parking and cycle lanes, is to be tested in Dublin’s south Georgian core.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) is to fund a feasibility study on the proposal to switch the lanes so that cyclists travel beside the footpath and are “protected” from traffic by parked cars.

The “Georgian Parkway” proposed by Fine Gael city councillor and doctor Paddy Smyth, could eventually link the Grand Canal premium cycle route, to all the south Georgian squares, creating a network of segregated cycle routes across the south east of the city.

“The concept of ‘Parking Protected Cycle Lanes’ is that parked cars, instead of being the hazard to cyclists they now are, could be used to protect cyclists from traffic,” Dr Smyth said.

Cyclists and cycle lobby groups frequently complain about cars parking in bike lanes forcing cyclists out into traffic, and the danger caused by drivers and passengers opening doors in front of oncoming cyclists. The proposed system, removes both these hazards, Dr Smyth said.

“It involves reconfiguring the road so that you put the cycle path directly adjacent to the footpath. You then have a buffer zone, just under three foot wide between the cars the and cyclists, then the parked cars, then the road.”

Using parked cars to segregate cyclists from traffic already happens in several cities including Copenhagen and Montreal and has recently been introduced in New York, Dr Smyth said.

The NTA feasibility study, which will be conducted in the coming months, will focus on a 900m stretch from the canal at Leeson Street Bridge, to Merrion Square, using Fitzwilliam Place and Fitzwilliam Street.

However, if it proves successful, the scheme could be extended to link all the parks and squares of the south Georgian core, a proposal which already has the support of local councillors of all parties and Independents, Dr Smyth said.

“Given the negligible capital investment required and the massive potential increase in amenity to both bicycle commuters and tourists using the Dublin bike scheme, it really is a no-brainer. The only capital investment required for the this entire network is paint.”

The scheme would result in a “fractional loss” of parking spaces in some streets, as some perpendicular parking would have to be rotated to parallel, but he said the benefits far outweigh this loss.

“This route would seamlessly connect the Grand Canal greenway to the south city’s Georgian parklands via high quality cycle infrastructure.

“If completed, a family will be able to cycle from Tallaght along the Dodder Greenway, which is currently being developed, to Grand Canal Dock, along the Grand Canal greenway to Mount Street Upper, and then all they way into Merrion Square, Stephen’s Green or even the Iveagh Gardens and never once have to cycle beside a moving car,” Dr Smyth said.