On a morning when traffic in Maynooth almost came to a standstill, the councillors of Maynooth Municipal District endorsed low quality walking and cycling facilities when they voted on the Part 8 Report for the Maynooth North South Corridor.
In the days before the vote, the issue of the right turn lanes came to the fore and we will return to this in the future. At the end of the day, the issue of removal or retention was not critical – what was critical was sufficient space to provide a high quality environment for pedestrians and cyclists and the approved scheme fails to do this.
In all countries but especially English speaking ones, there is a lot of hype and spin associated with cycling schemes. Many claim to provide high quality facilities but few live up to the hype. Maynooth is no different in this regard.
- The Straffan Road is wide enough to have high quality space for cyclists and pedestrians even with the retention of the right turn lanes by reducing the width of the vehicle lanes. This would also have a second benefit of calming traffic. The reality, however, is that at crossings, the space for pedestrians is reduced by more about 1/3. At other places, pedestrians are given extra space but not where they need it and space for cyclists is generally unchanged from a scheme designed some twenty years ago.
- At Main Street, the cycle tracks are to be removed so that cyclists are expected to share the road with some 20,000 cars and trucks. This will be a particular problem for parents wanting their children to cycle to the Presentation Girls School and will encourage a continuation of traffic congestion due to the ‘school run’.
- On Mill Street, everyone can see that on road cycle tracks are used for parking by cars and for loading by commercial vehicles especially in the mornings where children are going to school. The Part 8 proposals ignore this problem. Furthermore, the cycle lanes are located in a position where cyclists are hit by drivers opening their car doors and nothing has been proposed to improve the space for pedestrians at the pinch point outside Dunnes.
- Moyglare Road could have up to 2000 cyclists a day with the opening of the secondary schools. Not only is the proposed cycle track of the lowest quality standard – fifth class of five – the tracks are substandard by Irish and international standards. The proposed two way cycle tracks are also bad practice and are accepted internationally as creating a higher risk for cyclists than conventional uni-directional cycle tracks.
After Oslo’s recent announcement that it is going to ban cars from part of their city centre, Michael Colville Anderson, who has spoken on cycling in cities across the globe including Dublin and who has worked on the Dodder Greenway for Dublin City said that his advice to Oslo, would be to aim for high quality. In the UK, there has been a sea change in opinion with London, Leeds and even Glasgow finally producing high quality designs that are in line with best international practice and which have won the support of cyclists. Against this background, it is a matter of regret that the people of Maynooth are to be saddled with 20th century mediocrity.