What Do They Love More – Their Cars or Their Kids?

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A number of Moyglare Abbey residents have complained about the proposed narrowing of the entrance to the estate from the Moyglare Road as part of the provision of cycle facilities to the new school campus.

Arising from issues raised, Kildare County Council undertook to carry out a review of the proposed junction and in a letter the Senior Executive Officer stated that

With reference to the entrance to Moyglare Abbey, the proposed works to the entrance are to ensure compliance with DMURS.

This statement is incorrect. The internal roads of Moyglare Abbey were designed at a time when engineers considered that wide roads were beneficial for road safety reasons. It is now realised that on the contrary wider roads encourage faster speeds which makes it more dangerous particularly for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.

The Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets (DMURS) sets out current thinking on the design of urban roads and streets. The emphasis is on the design of “streets” in urban areas as the word “streets” suggests multi users as opposed to “roads” which suggests priority for cars and motorised traffic. Leaving aside the term streets, roads are categorised as either arterial roads, link roads or local roads. Internal estate roads like in Moyglare Abbey are local roads – they cater for local only as opposed to through traffic. Section 4.4.1 of DMURS includes Figure 4.55 which gives widths for different categories of roads. The following, an extract from Page 102, defines the widths for local roads ranging from 5 to 5.5m:


If the entrance was in accordance with DMURS, it would be within this range. Instead it is 7m wide which is narrower than it was but which shows how badly designed, by current standards, many of our existing roads and junctions are. If councillors are interested in road safety, they should ask three questions:

  1. What Is the width of the junction and where is it set out in DMURS as being applicable for a local road?
  2. What are the the kerb radii and where is it set out in DMURS as being applicable for a local road?
  3. Does the junction design prioritise cars or pedestrians and cyclists as set out in the DMURS hierarchy of road users?

The Moyglare Abbey access road is different from many other estates in that it also serves a farm. As the entrance must also work for the farm, councillors should ask a fourth question :

    4.  What is the width and frequency of “farm” traffic.

This may lead to a wider entrance than specified by DMURS but an increase should be reasonable. It should not, as in the past, be designed for the  widest vehicle. 

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Photograph showing Entrance to Farm off Moyglare Abbey

Those who oppose the narrowing of estate junctions increase the risk to children and other vulnerable road users. The Moyglare Residents Association erected the sign below to alert drivers of the presence of children but in deciding on speed most drivers take their cue from the road form rather than from road signage. At the end of the day, people have to decide what do they love more  – their cars or their kids? 

moyglare

Postscript – The road/laneway to the farm is only 2.45m so the entrance to a residential estate is nearly three times the width of a road for farm machinery. Crazy!!!

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Celbridge Road Needs High Quality Cycle Facilities

Election time is an opportunity by cycle campaigners to reassess progress and to set out new goals for the future. From earlier this year, we identified one glaring omission in Kildare County Council’s proposals for Maynooth – the failure to provide for cycling facilities to the two primary schools on the Celbridge Road. Planning for these schools commenced nearly twenty years ago with little or no consideration on how children would cycle to school and last year, Kildare County Council’s Area Engineer was quoted as stating that there was no room for cycle facilities.  As it turned out, draft plans have recently been drawn up to provide cycle facilities on the Celbridge Road and we are grateful to Cllr. Tim Durkan for informing us. However, the use of the terms “provide” and “cycle facilities” is somewhat arbitrary. The proposed cycle track does not connect with the Straffan Road cycle track and doesn’t extend as far as either of the two schools. It is also discontinuous at Laurence’s Avenue and its effective width is 1.5m which puts it in the category of low quality. The County Council seems to think that cyclists have need to travel in one direction only as the cycle track is unidirectional. Overall, it is an appalling design and once again the council is “ticking the box” for cycling but doing nothing to enable people who want to cycle. Maynooth Cycling Campaign proposes a 2m footpath and 2m cycle track with 1m buffer either side of a 6m road, requiring an overall width of 16m. The existing cross-section of the Celbridge Road varies along its length but there is generally an available width of 14m. So where does the other 2m come from?

Existing Cross-section adjacent to Rockfield

At Rockfield Estate, the 2m could be made up from grass verge on the Laurence’s Avenue side.  Between Rockfield and the Maynooth Educate Together School, it will be necessary to acquire a strip of land at the front of two properties either by agreement or through the use of a Compulsory Purchase Order. Compulsory purchase orders are a normal procedure for providing new roads and it is proposed to used the procedure as part of the Bus Connect project to acquire additional space.

Proposed Cross-section (Typical)

It is accepted that close to the junction with the Straffan Road a pinch point does exist which will require an imaginative solution. The location of two bungalows close to the road complicates the use of CPOs and while there is also a lack of space at Maxol, only a short length is affected. Consequently, a reduction in standards over a short length or, alternatively,  a reduction to a single traffic lane with flow in one direction (after the construction of the relief road between the Celbridge and Straffan Roads) may be acceptable. A detailed survey of the area will allow all options to be considered. Discussions will be required with adjacent residents as part of the design process. However, this must be balanced against the needs of the wider community and government policies on climate and health. High quality cycling facilities on the Celbridge Road is supported by Maynooth Cycling Campaign. It also has the support of the Parent Teacher Association of Maynooth Educate Together and the Parent Association of Gaelscoil Uí Fhiaich. For some twenty years, Kildare County Council has been providing low quality cycle infrastructure which has had negligible impact on levels of cycling. If it continues to provide such quality, there will be negligible change in the next twenty years. Maynooth Cycling Campaign proposes to lobby candidates for the Maynooth Municipal District to support high quality cycle facilities on the Celbridge Road and to publicise the results in advance of the election.

National Roads Network Indicators 2017

[This post was drafted last summer but only completed and uploaded to the website in January 2019.] 

Last year, TII published the National Roads Network Indicators 2017 which is their annual report on the state of Irish national roads. This includes national primary roads, national secondary roads and motorways although the report also includes some data on regional and local roads.

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Following the same format as last year, the report is divided into the five sections, four of which are considered below:

  1. Road Network – presenting key statistics on the components of the road network
  2. Safety – looks at the number of fatalities in the network and whether the network is getting safer or not
  3. Accessibility and Environment – impact of investment on employment accessibility
  4. Economic – looks at overall travel demand.

 

Road Network

One of the interesting facts thrown up in the report is that 88% of roads deliver the highest level of Service A ie free flow conditions with 96-97% of roads delivering Level of Service C which is minimum stable flow.

The comparison with the Level of Service for cycle facilities is striking. Most cycle facilities offer the lowest level of service ie D. These include most of the greenways developed even those which have been hyped and spun as world class. They also include many schemes in urban areas  where the allocation of space is the minimum for cycling but above minimum for motorised traffic. Local authorities consider such schemes to be in accordance with DMURS despite the hierarchy of road users prioritising cyclists above car drivers.

As in 2016, 39% of trips were estimated to be less than 15 minutes in duration and 38% of trips were less than 10km in length. There was also no change in the average trip distance at 19.4km and average trip duration at 22 minutes. Once more it shows the potential to substitute trips by bicycle if the government was to properly #Allocate4Cycling by providing adequate funding and specifying high standards.

The annual growth rate in traffic on the network was 3.0% nationally in 2017 compared to 4.6% in 2016. In the mid-east which includes Kildare and the other commuter counties surrounding Dublin the growth rate was 4.4% in 2017 and 5.2% in 2016. If maintained at this rate, the growth in traffic on national roads between 2016 and 2025 will be almost 50%.

SAFETY

In the section of safety, TII pulled two sleights of hand in their presentation of road fatality statistics.

The 2017 Report gives a reduction of 28% between 2013 and 2017 (64 to 46 fatal collisions) but this disguises the fact that there had been a significant increase (72) in the number of fatal collisions in 2016 which the report  ignores.

The three year average of fatal collisions on national roads is as follows:

Year 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Fatal Collisions  on National Roads 64 66 61 72 46
3 Year Average of  Fatal Collisions on National Roads 65.0* 63.7 66.3 59.7 59.0*

Table 1         Three Year Average of Road Fatalities on National Roads

* These are averaged over  2 years only as the third year is not available

The percentage difference between 2013 and 2017 is only of the order of 8% which is very different from the 28% reported.

The second sleight of hand is in relation to the different reporting periods. The 2016 report considered six years (2011-2016) whereas the 2017 report considered five (2013-2017). If they had used a period of 5 years in 2016 as in  2017, the change in fatalities would be from 48 (2012) to 72 (2016) – an increase of 50% which would take the gloss off the TII performance.

ACCESSIBILITY & ENVIRONMENT

The 2016 report states that a key benefit of a quality road system is improved accessibility to jobs which is generally seen as positive. The Impact of Road Investment on Job Accessibility between 2013 and 2017 shows this in graphical form. In practice however, this is seen in induced demand – longer commutes, more congestion in the urban areas and more noise and air pollution for those living in city centres and urban areas which are negative consequences.

ECONOMIC

The philosophy of TII in relation to traffic growth ( and by extension to climate change) is clearly set out in this section. The report states

Trends in overall employment in the economy drive commuting traffic whilst personal incomes are the major determinant of non-commuting traffic. With regard to the carriage of goods, economic output is the major determinant.

These statements are half right but simplistic. The underlying assumption is that the growth in commuting (motorised) traffic on national roads will be by private car. In the absence of any change in funding by the Department of Transport from roads to active travel, it excludes the possibility that there will be major increases in the number of people using sustainable modes of transport such as walking, cycling and public transport as required by National Transport Authority’s Statement of Strategy 2018-2030 and Smarter Travel. It also ignores policies on climate change and the potential risk of paying millions of euros for failing to meet our international obligations to reduce carbon emissions.

In considering 2017 and beyond, the report states

Given ….. economic trends, the prospects are for continued significant growth in National Roads traffic overall and HGV traffic in particular.

As cyclist fatalities have increased with increasing traffic over the last eight years, this is hardly good news for cyclists.

Cycle Tracks Should Be Laid In Red Asphalt — The Ranty Highwayman

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Ever since my first visit to the Netherlands in the summer of 2015, I have been obsessed with the use of red asphalt for cycle tracks (OK, the Dutch do design quite well generally).The main reasons are that using a coloured surface helps to provide visual priority in situations such as cycle tracks crossing side…

via Cycle Tracks Should Be Laid In Red Asphalt — The Ranty Highwayman

Cyclist.ie Press Release : Dept of TRANSPORT & RSA – BLIND TO CYCLISTS’ FATALITIES

The Department of Transport Tourism and Sport (DTTaS) and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) can rightly claim responsibility for the large decrease in road fatalities over the last thirty years. However,  in claiming a reduction in road fatalities in 2018, they are blind to the trend of increasing cyclist fatalities since 2011 and by failing to properly allocate for safer cycling, the DTTaS perpetuates a road and traffic environment where cyclist safety is secondary.

The DTTaS and the RSA are very concerned about the number of fatalities on Irish roads. At the end of each year, they respond to the annual number of fatalities and welcome the results if the number goes down and lament if the number goes up. Their benchmark for success or failure of road safety policy is annual number of fatalities relative to the previous year. This is a good yardstick when the numbers involved are relatively large. When the number is relatively small, as in cyclist fatalities, the total for consecutive years can vary widely.

If, however, the number of fatalities is averaged over three years the effect of large swings is reduced and longer term trends are discernible. Analysis using a three year average shows that cyclist fatalities were at a low point in 2011 but have since risen significantly  – more than 50%, albeit over seven years. Other countries which have significantly increased the level of cycling, have done so while simultaneously reducing the number of fatalities.

Colm Ryder, Chair of Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, states “The increasing level of cyclist fatalities in Ireland is unacceptable. To address this as a matter of urgency, the DTTaS must begin to properly allocate for cycling”.

The DTTaS currently spends less than 2% of its transport capital budget on cycling.  To maximise the contribution of cycling to reducing carbon emissions and increase health and environmental outcomes, the Minister must increase expenditure to 10% of the Land Transport capital budget, and not to 10% of the Public Transport budget as recently announced. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has reported that the next twelve years are critical to prevent global warming  beyond 1.5o. The  clock is ticking ……..

For Attached Graph and Table, see below

181222 Cie DTTaS Press Release Ver2

 

END

 

Reference: RSA/Garda Siochana, Provisional Review of Fatal Collisions January to 31  December 2018 pdf 

Government & RSA Blind to 73% Increase in Cyclist Fatalities


There has been outrage among cyclists at the number of cyclist fatalities  in 2017 – fifteen according to the Gardaí and sixteen according to others. While the Gardaí may debate whether one was a pedestrian or a cyclist, the facts are that last year 16 cyclists left home never to return alive.

Analysis of cyclist fatalities is usually based on a 12 month period. However, this gives rise to a number of ‘spikes’  because of the relative low level of fatalities. A more useful  analysis – one that reduces the effect of spikes and reveals trends more clearly – comes from using a three year average calculated from the year before, the year in question and the year after. Figure 1, which was calculated in January 2017, shows the 1 Year Average and 3 Year Average Cyclist Fatalities for the period 1996 to 2016.  The 3 Year Analysis  shows that since 2010 there has been an increase in cyclist fatalities with the increase appearing to have eased slightly at the end of 2016. Note that the figure for 2016 was averaged over two years (2015 and 2016) as it was estimated in January 2017.

Fig1

Figure 1:              1 Year and 3 Year Average Cyclist Fatalities 1996-2016 (Jan 2017)

In December 2017, the figure for 2016 was recalculated to include the 2017 cyclist deaths and an additional year 2017 was included by again averaging the fatalities over the last two years (2016 and 2017).

Fat3

Table 1:              1 Year and 3 Year Average Cyclist Fatalities 2007 (Dec 2017)

Figure 2 below shows the revised graph which was derived in part from the table above.  As stated above, the 3 Year Average for the final entry (2017) was calculated over two years 2016 and 2017.

Fig2

Figure 2:           1 Year and 3 Year Average Cyclist Fatalities 1996-2017 (Dec 2017)

The real scandal of increasing cyclist deaths is not the spike in the first half of 2017 but the  upward annual trend from 7.0 fatalities in 2010 to 12.5 fatalities in 2017 – an increase of more than 78% –  which has gone unnoticed by both the government and the RSA. This equates to an annual increase of some 8% each year for 7 straight years.

In 2017 some of the fatalities were recreational cyclists – others were utility cyclists. Some accidents occurred in urban areas while others occurred in rural areas. Many commentators have remarked that there is no pattern to the deaths but this is not the case.  Table 2 below lists the 2017 fatalities and the type of road on which the fatal collision occurred.

Table 2:                List of Cyclist Fatalities 2017 and Road Type

All the fatal accidents involved at least one other vehicle. Excluding Paul Hannon who was technically a pedestrian as he had dismounted from his bike at the time of the accident, eleven of the remaining 15 cyclists were either on national, regional  or city arterial roads. Thus, over 73% of fatalities happened on roads with high levels of traffic and/or high speeds – roads on which segregated cycle facilities would be provided in other countries as a matter of course but not in Ireland.

There are three main areas through which cyclist safety can be improved:

  • High quality infrastructure
  • Enforcement
  • Promotion/advertising

Infrastructure is the most capital intensive area and can take a significant period of time to show change at a national level. With government expenditure on cycling at €2.5 per head per annum, little high quality infrastructure and with no commitment to radical change, it is apparent that the government is prepared to settle for an “acceptable” level of cyclist deaths. The number of fatalities may spike somewhat from year to year (as in 2017) but with the levels of utility cycling virtually stagnant[1], the number of fatalities is unlikely to increase significantly enough to force change.

Enforcement of legislation is a matter for the Garda Siochana. The inadequacy of the Gardaí response to drink driving has received a lot of publicity and has still to be satisfactorily  resolved. Looking at international practice, the work of the West Midland police and their Close Pass Operation which led to a 20% decrease in the number of cyclist killed and seriously injured has been widely praised by cyclists advocacy groups. It is a good example of police enforcement and should be a model for the Gardaí to follow.

Infrastructure and enforcement are the two most effective areas and the areas on which the Irish government should focus. The third area – promotion (advertising) – is the least effective but involves little funding so, needless to say, it is the area where the Irish government concentrates its efforts. Everyone is aware of road safety and no motorists (or very few) go out with the deliberate intention of killing another road user. However, people are human and make mistakes.  To address fatalities, cyclists don’t need  empty gestures from the Gardaí/RSA such as Go Slow Days, pledges to go slow or EDWARD (European Day without a Road Fatality).  There is approximately one road fatality every second day in Ireland so there is a 50:50 chance of no fatality on 21st September. In 2016, EDWARD coincided with two fatalities in Donegal yet the Gardaí/RSA choose to repeat the exercise in 2017 and disappointingly the Dublin Cycling Campaign actually wanted to be associated with it. What is most depressing is that even in countries with high levels of cycling, it took a large number of dead cyclists – more than 100 of them children in a single year in the 1970s – to motivate Dutch politicians to take the matter seriously. The question is what is the threshold of dead cyclists for Irish politicians to take action? We know that in 2016 two child cyclists were killed including one going to school. This has had no impact on   politicians so obviously two is not enough.  For those who think that this is unfair on politicians, we are still awaiting a response from the body politic to the news from the EPA that air pollution in Ireland, principally caused by car traffic, causes 1200 premature deaths every year.

[1] Based on Census results, the level of commuter cycling in 2016 is at the level which previously occurred around the year 2000.

This article was amended to include the death of Pat Beakey whose fatality was omitted in the original. His inclusion increases the rise in fatalities since 2010 from 71% to 78% (ie from 7 to 12.5 instead of to 12).

Cycle Right – No Substitute for Infrastructure

Maynooth Cycling Campaign welcomes the launch of Cycle Right and congratulate Cycling Ireland and Celbridge’s Barbara Connolly on their leading role in its development. We now hope that the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport will follow up with the second essential element to achieve mass cycling to school – increased funding for the provision of high quality infrastructure. Being able to cycle is not the same as willing to cycle and unless the road environment is made safe for all ages the Minister’s hope for support from parents and for more children to choose cycling will remain that – a hope.

In his press release, the Minister also expresses a hope  that the initiative will ‘show his commitment to improving road safety and reducing the number of fatalities’. Considering that the bulk of fatalities involved drivers and pedestrians, it is hard to see how cycle training will improve road safety generally.  His use of ‘we’  as in  we must … remember to take particular care around vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists… reveal with which group of road users his empathies lie. While details of the rollout of Cycle Right have not been revealed, the key figure will be the outcome of cycle training – that is the increase in the number of children cycling to school. This will show the Minister’s true level of ambition and commitment to cycling.

Most countries provide cycle training to children as a means of encouraging cycling. In the Netherlands, having learnt how to cycle from their parents at a young age, children undergo a cycle test at the age of eleven so the test is in reality a confirmation of their ability rather than the acquisition of a new skill. In the UK, most parents do not cycle and it is likely that many feel that they do not have the skills to teach their children. While children there are being trained in large numbers, this does not lead to them cycling. Conditions on UK streets simply remain too unpleasant and too dangerous for more than a very small proportion of parents to allow their children to cycle. Unless additional funding for infrastructure is provided, the mistakes in the UK will be repeated in Ireland.

Irish Independent & Victim Blaming

We are only three weeks into January 2017 and already there has been 11 fatalities on our roads. Seven are pedestrians, two are drivers and two are passengers. The reactions of government and government organisations are remarkable. Although drink driving has been identified as one of the causes of the increase in fatalities, Shane Ross, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport has outlined how he wants to ‘name and shame’ the offenders. Well name them anyway. It is debatable how many will feel any shame.

Of the seven dead, one happened in an urban area, two had just come off a bus, two were walking along a national road – one in daylight, one in the dark, one died on the M50 while the last was walking along a regional road on the fringe of the city. The first four out of the seven were killed in a situation where motorists should have seen or anticipated vulnerable road users. In an article on road safety in the Irish Independent, the journalist Luke Byrne referred three times to the Road Safety Authority urging pedestrians to make themselves more visible.  In contrast, there was only one reference urging drivers to slow down. It is not known if this emphasis was as a result of the Road Safety Authority briefing or journalistic licence. Either way, the primary responsibility does not lie with vulnerable road users – they are the wrong target.