We want the reallocation of space, cycle networks built and better planning so that it is safe and attractive for people of all ages, from young children to retirees, to be able to cycle in both urban and rural areas across Ireland. To make this work, your help is needed — your voice matters more than you might think. Politicians need to hear this from constituents to know you care.
In the Netherlands today many people think the country always had its network of cycle route — the reality is that their streets used to look much like ours, and people had to fight for change:
Cycling in Ireland is not currently attractive to most people — survey after survey shows the main barrier to cycling is fear of heavy or fast moving motorised traffic. Segregation is needed, but space, priority and quality is needed too to make cycling attractive.
Ireland has for too long tried a mix of UK and Danish cycle route designs. The design of new cycle routes remain lacking in quality, not connected enough and overall unsuitable to attract Cycling for All.
What’s Cycling for All?
It’s where streets and roads are design for cycling for ‘all ages and abilities’ — where walking and cycling are attractive, enjoyable and safe for everybody from young children to retirees and everybody in-between.
It includes cycling for people with different needs, for example, people who need to carry children, or people who need to use or people who use handcycles powered by their arms rather than the legs, or tricycles for people with balance and mobility issues. See wheelsforwellbeing.org.uk and cyclingwithoutage.ie for example for a glimpse of the potential of cycling.
What’s the solution?
Ireland needs to follow the cycling, general street design and planning processes of the Netherlands, where cycling for all is the norm. Read bellow for more details. A number of visual examples of the issues and solutions:
MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC: ACT NOW
Tell your local councillors, candidates and your TDs that you want Cycling for All across Ireland with the required design and funding of 20% of the transport budget to back it up.
- Check if they are signed up yet — on the local and national list.
- Ask your local Councillors, TDs, MEPs, Senators or candidates to sign up at CyclingForAll.ie
- If you don’t know your local politicians or need to find their contact details, go to whoismytd.com (this includes all elected representatives, not just TDs).
- The important thing is to keep it simple, but personalised — tell them why you value Cycling for All and why it would be good for your area and its people.
- As a secondary action, please also sign the Cycling For All in Ireland petition.
LIST OF SUPPORTERS
List of politicians and candidates — list includes TDS, councillors, and MEPs:
Their support is noted with ‘yes’ on a green background (on smaller screens please try turning your device sideways to see column listing support or view on Google Sheets)
GROUPS WHICH SUPPORT CYCLINGFORALL.IE
POLITICIANS: FOLLOW THESE STEPS TO SIGN UP
(1) Read (a) the CyclingForAll.ie principals on this page and, if you agree to those, and agree to (b) for 20% of the national transport capital budget to go to walking and cycling:
(2) Post on your social media profiles to publicly declare your support for CyclingForAll.ie and 20% funding.
(3) Fill in the following:
(4) Continue your support by asking your colleagues, party members, and supporters to sign CyclingforAll.ie, and to seek Cycling for All in your local area, for example, by proposing and supporting projects which give space to cycling.
Once you filled out the above, we’ll put your name on the list of politicians who support cycling for all as soon as we can. If you have any issues or questions please email email@example.com.
At a national and local level we are asking individuals, politicians, government, state agencies and other groups to sign up to higher standards which are based on international best practice, and sufficient funding to back that up.
The main elements include:
- ► Space
- ► Priority
- ► Permeability
- ► Continuity and Quality
- ► Contra-flow
- ► Integration
- ► Funding for walking and cycling amounting to at least 20% of the national capital transport budget every year.
The detail of these elements can be found on this page by clicking on the above links.
The idea is that individuals, councillors, TDs and groups who sign up will look to push for or adopt higher standards into plans, policies, and law at national, regional and local levels.
Councillors should also strive to make sure these standards are upheld when councils are changing their areas and TDs should look to ensure transport funding is well spent on high quality projects.
Design guidance and laws
National guidelines — including the Manual for Urban Roads and Streets, the NTA National Cycle Manual, the NRA/TII rural route cycle manual — are generally sound in principle. But these and other guidelines are lacking or flawed when it comes to many details and need to be partly rewritten to follow best the international design standards (to be clear: that’s the Netherlands).
All such manuals need to be made clearly and more elements need to be legally mandatory to follow for those designing any road and street open to the public. It may also be advisable to put the oversight of these and other roads and streets design manuals under a single authority.
The details on this website are core to the CyclingForAll.ie policy. Without being offer watered down, the details need to be integrated into current design guidelines, law and any relevant policy documents. The points made on this site should generally be seen as complementary to most of the existing guidance, although where there are conflicts, the points made here must override existing guidance.
A sample of Dutch design:
WALKING AND CYCLING GENERALLY NEEDS TO BE SEGREGATED FROM EACH AND FROM MOTORING.
Politics of space
Giving space to walking and cycling often relates to a mix of “politics of space” or unwillingness or inability to change road layouts — in other words often it is not an issue of a lack of physical space but an unwillingness to reallocate space to cycling.
The space to be reallocated can often be done so quickly with temporary measures by making streets one-way for motorists and reallocating one traffic lane to be a two-way cycle path (see image of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown coastal route below).
Cycling and walking must not be mixed as standard
Cycling and walking must be segregated from each other on links and at junctions as standard. Mixing modes should be exceptional, not the norm. There are some Irish and many international examples which show that this is possible.
Mixing cycling and walking reduces the quality of both cycling and walking environments, and the largest impact is on pedestrians and people who cycle who have disabilities.
Paint is not enough
On main roads and streets, paint is usually not enough between cycling and pedestrians or between cycling and motorists. For main roads, painted cycle lanes should be an exception, not a default design.
Shared on low-volume, low-speed streets or roads
On main routes, cycling needs to be segregated from motor traffic; cycling and motoring should generally only be only mixed using cycle lane or mixed lanes (traffic and bicycles share lanes) on low speed and roads and streets, with an annual average flow of less than 2,000 vehicles per day.
Along with separate space at junctions, standard crossings should not mix pedestrians and bicycle users at waiting areas or in the crossing space. The use of shared toucan crossings must not be used as standard and designers must not direct cyclists into zebra crossings.
Parallel pedestrian/cyclist crossings
Parallel pedestrian/cyclist crossings, where cycling and walking are kept separate, should be used as standard along and across routes. As well as use at crossings or junctions with traffic light signals, parallel cycling crossings should design beside Zebra crossings for use along links and at junctions, such as roundabouts, following the design used widely in the Netherlands and adopted in recent years in the UK.
Where parking is provided alongside a cycle path or cycle lane, there must be a buffer which is wide enough to allow a car door to be opened without posing a risk of collision to a bicycle user.
The car parking spaces should protect the cycle lane — cycle lanes should be placed between the parking and footpath kerb and should not be placed between the parked cars and moving cars.
Bus stop bypasses, aka floating bus stops, should be the first choice at bus stops to avoid bicycle-bus conflicts. Only if space is not available should alternative layouts be considered, but consideration must first be made to making space for bus stop bypasses — ie reallocating public space from other uses, relocating the bus stop location or even CPOing land to widen a section of the street/road.
Grade-segregated crossings — underpasses and overpasses — should be considered at large junctions and for crossings of large or high-speed roads in both urban and rural areas. Well-designed grade-segregation is safer and often more preferable for all road users than mixing cycling and walking with high-speed or high-volume motor traffic.
The prevailing designs of cycle paths and tracks in Ireland do not value horizontal buffers, which are a key to making cycle routes safe and to offer a higher level of perception of safety and comfort — which is in turn key to attracting more people to cycling.
A minimum horizontal separation between carriageways and cycle paths should be defined as follows:
The buffer space can be greened but if shrubs etc are used they must be of low height and must be maintained.
Examples of horizontal buffers:
Priority is one of the main issues with current cycling infrastructure — where people in Ireland are often expected to yield to minor side streets and even private property, this should be reversed and extra priority needs to be given to walking and cycling.
As covered in the Space section, cycling and walking should have their own space at junctions and not be mixed on shared paths or areas.
Urban side roads
Cycling and walking should nearly always have priority at side roads in urban, suburban and village areas where the speed limit is at or below 60km/h. Priority will be made clear by design, and by law, if needed.
Continuous footpaths and cycle tracks
Continuous footpaths and cycle tracks should be used across entranceway (including to driveways, filling stations, businesses etc) and minor roads/streets – not to be confused with speed table/ entry treatments which are similar to but not the same as continuous footpaths.
Side roads on higher speed roads
In areas with speed limits above 60km/h, cycling and walking should still have priority over lightly used side roads, private entrances, and farm or field entrances.
Dutch junction design
Dutch junction design — with segregated cycle paths on junctions — should be used. If needed, any law changes must be made, but modern best practice in the Netherlands is to avoid conflicting traffic light signals (ie avoid having motorists turn on green across a cycling-only crossing with a green light).
Modern Dutch-design walking and cycling priority roundabouts or grade-segregated roundabouts should be the only type of roundabouts used in urban and suburban areas where people have to cross. Cycling and walking must have priority on roundabouts in urban and suburban areas, this should be possible with our current laws but if needed any law changes must be made as soon as possible.
A simultaneous green bicycle phase should be an option for designs, if needed any law changes must be made.
As a principle walking and cycling permeability should be greater than permeability for cars and other motor traffic.
All councils should be obliged to draw up traffic circulation plans to cover built up areas, and these should clearly define the nature of roads and streets as well as account for the movement of pedestrians, cyclists, users of mobility devices, scooters, public transport, deliveries, HGVs. motorbikes, and cars.
This process should influence the roll out of traffic calming and lower speed limits, rather than, for example, streets being defined by their speed limit in a speed-limit process.
Ghent is an example of a city which shows traffic circulation planning for city centres can be implicated quickly and show results: A year after the city’s plan was put in place, there was a 25% increase in bicycle use, 8% increase in public transport use, and 29% fewer cars on main routes within the ring road and 58% fewer cars on residential streets.
A video explaining what happened in Ghent:
All shapes and sizes
Walking and cycle routes must be designed to accommodate not just standard wheelchairs, prams, and bicycles but those of all shapes and sizes.
In the case of bicycles this includes bicycles with wide handlebars, bicycles of different heights (ie children’s bicycles to different sized adult bicycles); bicycles with panniers, baskets, crates or child seats on them; cargo bicycles and cargo tricycles (which carry children, goods and even wheelchairs); tricycles for people with balance and mobility issues; bicycles with trailers attached; recumbents; and tandems.
The UK guidance, Cycle Infrastructure Design (LTN 1/20), includes the following image of typical dimensions of bicycles:
Permeability on routes
Walking and cycle routes — including everything from greenways to routes on main roads — need to have strong permeability into side streets, housing estates, schools, colleges, retail, leisure centres, places and areas of employment etc.
Barriers which stop any standard type of bicycle and/or trailer (for instance ‘kissing gates’ and close-set bollards) must be removed as soon as possible and must never be used on new routes, streets, roads or parks.
The design of many existing Irish housing estates has restricted permeability and to make walking, cycling and public transport attractive, residents and politicians must be encouraged to remove many of these barriers (walls, fences etc).
Filtered permeability (using bollards, planters etc) should be used to close through traffic on current residential and other streets and roads with the goal of not just making cycling more attractive but to cut rat-running traffic, making streets more liveable and reducing the risks and harms to local residents.
Where barriers are required
Where a barrier or planter or other barrier is required, a single row of bollards / planters should be used — these must be visible in the dark/low light conditions and located with a strict absolute minimum spacing of 1.5 metre from each other or walls/fences.
Where barriers of any type (including bollards) are used, those responsible for designing them must note that such obstacles are linked to serious injury and even death, so care must be used in (1) making barriers visible in dark and low light conditions and (2) in not locating barriers directly beside junctions, on ramps, other inclines, or bends.
Swing gates, kissing gates, a-frames and other barriers
Swing gates, kissing gates, a-frames, k-frame and other barriers which stop many types of prams, wheelchairs and bicycles must not be used in any circumstances — blocking legitimate users — including bicycles for people with disabilities or for carrying children — is not an acceptable solution to issues like anti-social behaviour. Where such are in place, councils or other public body must plan for their removal as soon as possible.
Existing barriers should be reviewed
Councils and other public authorities should review the use of barriers and bollards on their lands — this process should include mapping their location, recording the bollards by taking photographs of them, and ensuring that the design follows the guidance on this page.
This process should be aimed at barrier removal for greater access, better safety, and lower costs. Where bollards are to be maintained, these must be visible in dark and low light conditions and not located directly beside junctions or on ramps or inclines or bends — non-compliant barriers should be replaced or re-positioned.
Including bollards too close to junctions, gates not everybody can open, bollards with poor night time visibility, and high wall and hedge making permeability less inviting:
CONTINUITY AND QUALITY
CONTINUITY AND QUALITY
Pedestrians and bicycle users need a fine mesh grid of routes. Disconnected sections of paths or lanes cannot be described as a network — routes have to be coherent and comprehensive.
Continuity does mean just one design type
While routes need to be continuous, this does not necessarily mean using just one design. For example, in the Netherlands, a cycle route may include various elements, such as cycle paths, service streets, bicycle streets or contra-flow cycle lanes.
Surface quality should at least meet the standard of parallel roadway, not just at construction stage but on an on-going basis.
High-quality routes are nothing without good maintenance — maintenance, including access for maintenance equipment, must be considered at the design stage of projects and included in on-going operational budgets.
The chosen surface for a footpath or cycle path tarmac etc surfacing should be continuous and not interrupted by kerbs or small sections of different surfaces concrete.
Road street crossings must not be staggered in urban areas — this is already contained in the Manual for Urban Roads and Streets as a strong recommendation, but councils are failing to see the importance of it. Action must be taken to address this.
Inclines and ramps
Inclines should not exceed 5%. When the vertical climb is very short, a higher grade can be used, but when the total vertical slope is more than 4 meters, a maximum of 4% should be used. Where horizontal sections are used, these should be at least 25m horizontal.
Where there are inclines/ramps near junctions regardless of priority and or other locations where people cycling are expected to stop or yield, a level stopping zone should be provided.
While high-sounding design speeds are off-putting to some and seem unnecessary to others, design speeds on segregated routes must be realistic to allow for safe use given different conditions in weather and terrain, as well as the use of electric bicycles and faster cycling.
The Netherlands has design speeds of 30km/h which is “recommended for normal situations” in urban areas, 40km/h outside urban areas, and, elsewhere in Dutch guidance, 20km/h is mentioned for “basic routes”, although this is under the range given of normal average cycling speeds (15-23km/h). Cycling-friendly UK guidance issued in 2016 (Interim Advice Note 195/16 Cycle Traffic and the Strategic Road Network), also has 30km/h as the norm, outlines 40km/h for on down gradients of 3% or greater, and it states 20km/h is an absolute minimum design speed “only to be used over distances up to 100 metres if combined with the use of ‘SLOW’ markings, although this is not permitted on downhill gradients of 3% or greater.” (note: this applies to the Strategic Road Network only).
Having design speeds does not mean that the higher speeds would implemented universally and localised speed reduction measures (such as raised pedestrian crossing used at bus stops in London) would still be perfectly acceptable.
Ignoring international experts would be dangerous in a number of regards, including that unrealistic design speeds causes an increased likelihood of conflict between cycling and other modes, an increased risk of cyclists falling off their bicycles, and an increased risk that people cycling will use the main carriageway rather than a cycle path (in the context of a high number of cycling deaths on higher-speed suburban and rural roads).
One-way streets without provision for cycling in both directions are a major barrier to cycling in most Irish cities and towns. It is one of the largest permeability issues in many areas, while in other areas it offers relatively low-cost additional permeability.
Contra-flow or two-way access for cycling on streets which are one way for motorists could be covered as an extended part of the permeability section above. But as the issue is of a high importance, yet there has been little progress in decades in Ireland, this section is separate.
Removing one-way streets vs making them cycling-friendly
The idea of removing one-way streets or roads to make cycling more attractive is often a flawed principle, we should generally instead follow Dutch design where one-way streets are designed to be attractive for the three modes: walking, cycling and public transport.
If the removal of one-way streets or roads is considered the designers must look at the impact this will have on the provision of dedicated cycle paths, bus lanes and wider footpaths.
Signage needs to be clear on contra-flow routes and a review must be undertaken looking at all current examples of contra-flow and how it can be made clearer to motorists that cycling is allowed both ways (ie standard signs at the with-flow entry point to contra-flow streets attached to the normal one-way street signs).
Contra-flow without lanes
Cycling contra-flow without lanes should be used on low-speed residential or city/town centre street and roads.
It has been proven to work extensively in the Netherlands, and cities such as London, Berlin and Paris, and less extensively in places like Copenhagen (because the limited number of narrow one-way streets). There are a limited number of examples in Dublin which are operating under the “no-entry, except…” system.
While the system is common across Europe, there has been a long delay at national level to adopt the measure — in this regard, cycling contra-flow without lanes should be outlined as a key cycling permeability aid and be outlined for use in any updates of the Traffic Signs Manual; the Manual for Urban Roads and Streets; and the National Cycle Manual.
Cycling contra-flow without lanes will be as a standalone measure and also as part of “bicycle streets” and/or parts of larger routes made up of different elements. It should not just be viewed as a tool for retro-fitting but also a design which can be implemented on new-build estates and town centres or on public realm schemes which seek to improve town and village centres.
Busy one-way streets and roads
On busy multi-lane one-way streets and roads, such as those in our cities and some towns currently designed for high traffic flow, councils should look at providing two-way segregation using two-way cycle paths or one-way cycle paths in each direction.
This will usually require the relocation of space (general traffic lanes or parking to cycling), but the safety and access benefits should be viewed as outweighing any negatives. Heavy segregation should be used with bollards, high kerbs, planters, parking etc.
Cycle lanes on one-way streets
In some cases cycle lanes may be suitable for low speed one-way residential or town/city centre streets and roads, but designers should be aware that on such streets to-date illegal parking is an ongoing issue on the contra-flow lanes.
Retrofitting segregation using bollards, high kerbs, planters etc should be considered and new unprotected contra-flow lanes should generally not be considered unless there a strong commitment to ongoing enforcement.
As well as developing a national network of cycle routes and cycling-friendly streets, acceptance of everyday cycling needs to be integrated into culture and institutional planning, policy and practices.
Integration of plans and policies
All plans, policies and design manuals etc of local authorities, departments, state agencies, semi-state companies and bodies funded by the state should be in line with Cycling for All or should be re-written as soon as possible to be comply with the principles and details of Cycling for All. Where there is a conflict in policy or detail, Cycling for All should supersede other documents.
Use of state land
Local authorities, departments, state agencies, semi-state companies and bodies funded by the state should also make their lands available for the use of cycle routes, or, where required, hand these lands over to local authorities or the relevant state bodies for cycle routes.
Access on state land
No local authorities, departments, state agencies, semi-state companies and bodies funded by the state (including schools or hospitals) should make any rules or bylaws or erect signage which bans cycling from roadways or general use paths where motor vehicles are allowed. Rules or bylaws or signage in place should be repealed and/or removed. For example, if there is a school and staff/students are allowed to drive up to the school, they must also be allowed to cycle to the same location.
Bicycle parking needs to be provided at homes, schools, shops, offices, cafes, restaurants, hospitals, sport centres, factories, and all workplaces and destinations. The type of and placement of bicycle parking should follow the Dublin City Bike Parking Guidance, with allowances for local development plan conditions (on the numbers of spaces to be provided etc).
High-density bicycle parking / cycle hubs
High-density parking needs to be funded to be built at the main railway stations in cities — these will be staffed and guarded and/or by use of related bicycle retail / maintenance / rental which will give passive-supervision if the opening times of each match.
Households with no access to sheds
Local authorities in the Netherlands and London have extensively funded and provided a system of bicycle lockers (or ‘hangars’) for on-street bicycle parking for households with no access to sheds (apartments or terraced houses etc).
Where households have no access to sheds suitable for bicycle storage, Irish local authorities must provide similar solutions at the same or cheaper cost to those provided in the UK and the Netherlands.
Local authorities should also ensure that their planning policies enable the building of bicycle sheds in front gardens / driveways — even larger sized ones which are suitable for accessing cargo bicycles.
Public transport and cycling
Cycling needs to be seen as the key method of substantially expanding the reach of public transport. Intercity rail, Dart, Commuter, Luas and future Metro services should all allow bicycles on board outside the peak commuting hours.
At high-use times, allowing full-sized bicycles on board public transport which would otherwise be used by passengers or luggage is undesirable, so, the focus must be on providing a mix of solutions to allow the use of different bicycles at both ends — for daily / weekly commuters the main means of this will be secure bicycle parking at both ends and for people on day trips, business trips etc where they are unlikely to have a bicycle a both ends, bicycle rental should be encouraged (ie the placement and use of city rental bicycle, OV-fiets-type system or dockless bicycle share).
The pricing of the carriage of bicycles should be reviewed, especially for regional and intercity services — currently the bicycle price on Irish Rail and Bus Eireann is too high for mid-range and shorter trips. At the very least the current one-way cost should be turned into the two-way/return price and should be free where there is low demand (ie midweek intercity buses and generally intercity buses between regional towns and cities have very low demand for the carriage of bicycles or luggage).