Navan Cycling Initiative recently made a submission for the Donacarney Footpath Cycleway Scheme
Meath County Council recently put forward a new proposed development for Donacarney, located in East Meath. The proposal consisted of:
The Provision of a Footpath Cycleway between the existing footpath cycleway at Scoil Naisiunta Réalt Na Mara and the existing Footpath Cycleway opposite Whitefield Manor along the Eastern side of the R150 for a distance of 700m in the townland of Donacarney Great. The works will comprise of the construction of a 3m wide shared footpath cycleway, a livestock underpass, public lighting, and associated accommodation & fencing works, landscaping works, drainage/attenuation works and ancillary works.
View Navan Cycling Initiative’s submission for this proposal below.
Donacarney Footpath Cycleway Scheme – NCI Submission
We are writing to you on behalf of the Navan Cycling Initiative, a community-based group based in Navan advocating for improved cycling infrastructure. Navan Cycling Initiative is a member of Cyclist.ie (www.cyclist.ie), the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, which is the Irish member of the European Cyclists’ Federation (www.ecf.com). Our aim is to make cycling in Navan and surrounding areas safe, enjoyable, and popular.
At a time when cycling is more popular than ever and the demand for safe cycling infrastructure is at an all-time high, this is a great opportunity to provide safe cycling routes throughout Meath.
East Meath has seen a huge population boom in recent years and continues to see a huge expansion in residential development throughout the region. Laytown and Bettystown are also popular coastal hotspots with significant traffic issues, particularly in the summer months. Yet the area has no dedicated cycling infrastructure and badly needs a full cycle network to make it safer and encourage sustainable modes of transport.
In the existing (2013) Greater Dublin Area (GDA) plans, the only areas of east Meath which have proposed cycle networks plans are Dunshaughlin, Ratoath, Ashbourne and Clonee. However, these remain largely incomplete. In comparison, the Laytown and Bettystown area has no dedicated cycle network plans in the full scope of the GDA Cycle Network, despite it being the second largest populated electoral area in Meath. There are limited ‘Inter Urban’ routes, including one on the busy R150 Julianstown Road, but these are extremely unlikely to be completed any time soon.
In the new draft 2021 GDA Cycle Network Plans, there is a new single proposed secondary route which runs from Bettystown on the R150 to Mornington, which incorporates the proposed Donacarney Footpath Cycleway Scheme, but no further details are provided. The proposed secondary route also doesn’t appear to incorporate the new Tara Road linking to Laytown. If this route is to be developed as a key link for active travel in the area, it is vital that the design of the scheme is of best practice and is consistent quality throughout.
In order to provide this submission, we cycled along the route, noting existing features, and taking a number of photos.
Navan Cycling Initiative has the following general comments on the proposal:
- We welcome the provision of segregated walking and cycling infrastructure, connecting the existing school with new residential areas being built to the south.
- The design proposes a shared space for pedestrians and cyclists, against the advice of the existing National Cycle Manual and the UK LTN 120 guidance – see below.
- Priority isn’t given to pedestrians and cyclists at several junctions along the route, contrary to the National Cycle Manual. In drawing P09, there are two new farm entrance gates which intersect the path. The path should have priority over these entrances.
- Existing cycle infrastructure the the North and South of the scheme isn’t consistent with the design of the proposed scheme
In the sections below we provide more specific observations.
In this diagram above, the design states “Proposed 3m wide share (sic) pedestrian/cycle footpath as per national cycle manual & DMURS”
The National Cycle Manual states:
“Shared facilities are disliked by both pedestrians and cyclists and result in reduced Quality of Service for both modes. With the exception of purpose-designed shared streets, shared facilities should be avoided in urban areas as far as possible …
Shared facilities might be appropriate at locations where footpaths are wide and the volume of pedestrians and cyclists is low, e.g. in low-density towns and cities, and suburban or recreational areas” – Section 1.9.3 Shared Facilities
The above advice is replicated in the UK LTN 120 guidance Section 5.5.3, and Section 6.5. At school start and end times, there is likely to be a large volume of people, making the use of shared space inappropriate.
It is unclear if the proposed shared pedestrian/cycle footpath is intended to be a 2 way cycle track for cyclists, with cyclists traveling in both directions. If so, space will be even more limited and mixing with pedestrians would not be advised. The TII Rural Cycleway design standard recommends a minimum 3 metre wide width for a cycleway only – i.e., no pedestrians. If this is to remain a shared path Meath County Council needs to review the proposed width.
The diagram below Fig 4.1 from the TII manual clearly outlines the required minimum wriggle room for a 2 way cycle track, without pedestrians. This is a minimum consideration, and does not reference other forms of bikes, such as cargo bikes, wheelchairs etc. The proposed Donacarney shared footpath does not meet these requirements, and as a result, will be a cause of conflict between cyclists and pedestrians as a result. Meath County Council needs to review the proposed width.
At the south end of the scheme, there is an existing (off road) cycle lane and footpath. The cycle lane isn’t signposted, isn’t sufficiently wide, and is only ‘separated’ from the footway by a painted line. It’s unclear how the new scheme will connect to this existing substandard footpath, going from shared space to separate footpath and cycle path.
In addition, in connecting with this existing cycle path, it should be pointed out that the existing path is a one way cycle path, and not contra flow, as there is an additional cycle path on the opposite side of the road. It is unclear how cyclists using the new scheme should connect with these existing cycle paths, particularly if traveling north to the starting point of the new scheme. A safe crossing point is needed here, and clear linkage between existing and this proposed scheme.
The National Cycle Manual provides a number of guidelines around the design of junctions. At the school (Figure 5 above) cyclists are required to yield to motor traffic. The National Cycle Manual states
“The cyclist passing the gate, as with pedestrians, always has priority over access or egress traffic … Entrances should be designed in such a way that vehicles can safely enter and exit the property, without comprising the cycling or pedestrian function. Specifically, the cycle and footpath facility should be continuous across the entrance and not ‘dipped’ at the crossover. This will reinforce the legibility above” – Section 5.4.1 Design Principles
Our survey of the surrounding area found a number of segregated cycle and walking facilities, and no shared facilities. Therefore anyone cycling to the planned scheme will be required to handle multiple types of paths, with varying non-coherent designs.
A number of the facilities in the local area don’t provide the ability to join (above left) or exit the cycle lane.
Finally, given that part of this scheme is literally green-field, it’s unclear why a similar approach to the area below couldn’t be taken, where the cycle path is separated from the road by a hedge.
We observed fast-moving traffic on the road beside the school. Taking the approach above for all possible sections of the route would provide a more attractive and comfortable experience.
We welcome the concept of provision of safe walking and cycling facilities, to connect the existing school with residential areas under construction, but recommend that a higher standard of construction be applied in order to meet both existing and upcoming national standards.
The surrounding area has some existing cycling facilities, which are inconsistently designed, and are inconsistent with the proposed design. As the region continues to expand in terms of population and housing, it is vital that key links such as this are incorporated into a fully developed cycle network in line with the 2021 Draft GDA plans. These plans need to have consistent design and be consistent with the National Cycle Manual.
There appears to be an opportunity to provide a more comfortable and attractive facility, by retaining the hedge between the road and the footpath and cycle lane, along the full length of this scheme.
Navan Cycling Initiative