New Racecourse cycle lane – an engineered masterclass in conflict creation.
I took the opportunity to cycle along the new cycle track beside the Racecourse recently and these are my thoughts.
When looking at a new lane, it’s important to realise that cyclists are not dropped by helicopter to there but will more than likely have to cycle there. This review includes how the previously installed Newtown Rd. Lane joins (or not) with the new lane.
The previously installed Newtown Rd. Cycle lane is a decent lane with little conflict. Where this lane ends at the junction with Newlands, there is an advanced stop box. (This is where the video starts)
This box needs to be coloured differently and a big bicycle symbol added to make its function clear to all road users.
ASL’s help a rider who might be turning right here to get in front of the traffic in order to negotiate this manoeuvre safely.
From here, you can see the new cycle lane beyond the junction but as is unfortunately common with Wexford Co Co, they have failed to join them up. There are 2 options that should be considered here.
The installation of a Toucan crossing which would help a more nervous rider or a child cross safely with pedestrians or/and
To paint in the continuing linking lane (bright brown in keeping with other conflict areas)
The racecourse lane itself has a lovely surface and I’m not sure from the road markings what is planned for some of it, so this review may change based on that.
For horse race goers, these continuous white lines denote a mandatory cycle lane which means that no vehicle may cross into or over unless the driver is entering or leaving a place or a side road.
Most importantly though in terms of race days, this means that no driver may park a vehicle in a mandatory cycle track. This is covered by a fixed charge notice of €40.
This will lead to conflict.
When the lane gets to the bus-stop, the rider must yield. In these situations, best practice would be to take the cycle lane behind the bus stop. I recognise that the space doesn’t exist here but it DID exist in Drinagh and wasn’t considered or acted upon.
When we go further along this road, the cycle track veers out and it would appear that inside this, is the space set aside for vehicles to park. I can’t see any more than 20/30 vehicles fitting in there 🤷🏻♂️
For race days what is the plan for parking?
Charge for parking?
Turn a blind eye to drivers who will inevitably illegally park up on the mandatory cycle path?
Either situation is likely to lead to conflict.
Another conflict point is where this parking area has been set aside. It is right beside the cycle lane with no buffer zone or physical separation.
I’m a cycle right trained cycling instructor and a key safety measure that is taught is never to cycle in a car’s door zone.
Cyclists have been seriously injured or killed by dooring incidents when someone thoughtlessly opens a car door on an unsuspecting bicycle rider.
As a rider, if someone opens a car door as you pass, this will flip you out on to the main carriageway, potentially under the wheel of an oncoming car.
For a riders safety, they will therefore mitigate this risk and most probably exit such cycle lanes in the presence of parked cars out on to the main carriageway.
This design leads to unnecessary risk and potential conflict.
Looking at the parking spaces themselves, they don’t look like they are wide enough to accommodate some oversized SUVs that have become common on our roads.
These will more than likely hang over into the cycle lane itself.
Again we have an engineered conflict situation.
When there are no cars parked there, it’s going to look very strange for the rider the veer away from being beside the footpath and off a predicted line, out the the middle of the road to remain in the cycle lane…
A solution here might have been to run the cycle lane inside the parked vehicles and use some flexi-wands as a physical barrier.
The track ends then before the garage and the road narrows. It’s a short distance between this and the hard shoulder near the Maldron where this road could have fed in to some future network along the main road. Areas where cyclists are shelled in to traffic at the end of the lane could benefit from large bicycle symbols to remind other road users of the presence of bicycle riders. These are common in Carlow town for example and are accompanied ‘Shared Space Roadway’ signage. This should not be viewed as a final solution but more of a beach-head strategy.
Overall, for me, this was an area that was already relatively safe to cycle on. I’m not aware of any injuries or conflicts on this stretch of road.
Importantly and I can’t stress this enough….
cyclists do not have to use cycling infrastructure that is provided for them.
When people ask why cyclists aren’t using some cycling infrastructure that would appear to be provided fo them, this is NOT the type of infrastructure that cyclists seek in the main.
Cyclists lobby for safe connected segregated infrastructure and conflicted, not fit for purpose lanes, will not be used in the main.
Indeed, for many advocates this is generally seen as a waste of resources.
That’s just fact!
However, conflict occurs when a driver sees a bicycle symbol on the road and gets frustrated in wondering why the rider isn’t cycling there. Bear in mind, this is not, in the main what cyclists request. A painted line on the road doesn’t create some type of a magic buffer zone.
It’s just a line of paint, nothing more.
I’m not convinced of how worthwhile this project is.
It certainly required some more thought in my view.
There are many times where it is safer to ride outside poorly designed cycle lanes and when the design seems more geared towards taking the rider out of the motorists way, than putting the rider safety front and centre of the design, this situation is likely to occur.
Be interested to hear your thoughts..
Leonard Kelly Counsellor, Career and Life Coach,