Submission: R147 Martha’s Bridge to Circular Road Scheme
See Navan Cycling Initiative’s submission on the Dublin Road scheme below
Part 8 / Scheme / R147 Martha’s Bridge to Circular Road Scheme – see more information here
Submission by Navan Cycling Initiative
We are writing to you on behalf of the Navan Cycling Initiative (NCI), 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 scheme represents a great opportunity to encourage cycling as a mode of transport in Navan.
NCI very much welcomes the R147 Martha’s Bridge to Circular Road Scheme which, if delivered in a timely manner, can be transformational for cycling in Navan. The R147 Dublin Road runs through the heart of Navan Town, and the delivery of safe cycling infrastructure here will be a key part of the overall planned Navan Cycle Network. It will connect several different areas and encourage more people to make the move to sustainable transport.
From Johnstown, it will connect up with the existing cycling infrastructure (Na4 and Na2) on Bothar Sion. The Dublin Road is the most direct route from Johnstown into the town centre. It would make it safe for people cycling from Old Balreask Woods, Kennastown, Kilcarn Court and the Lime Kiln areas and provide a direct route into the town. It also has great potential to reduce vehicular traffic on this busy route, as over 80% of car journeys into Navan Town centre are under 5km. Similarly, it would provide a direct route for people coming from north Navan who wish to travel south on the Dublin Road.
The scheme will also vastly improve the general appearance and public realm of the main road into Navan, particularly at the Academy Square/Fifth Province green. Not only will it provide some much-needed safe cycling infrastructure, but the scheme also includes considerable environmental benefits, new paths, new road surfacing, safer junctions, new signage, seating, tree planting, a wildflower meadow, and considerable improvements to the public realm overall.
Navan Cycling Initiative has the following general comments on the proposed R147 Martha’s Bridge to Circular Road Scheme.
Timeline of scheme
As the overall length of the scheme is only 1.4km in total, and for the most part remains within the boundaries of the existing R147 – a very wide road with existing hard shoulders – we very much hope to see this scheme delivered in as quick a timeframe as possible. The majority of the scheme is aligned along a roadway running parallel to the River Boyne, with the remainder passing in front of only a handful of properties on the opposite side (again, with a very wide existing hard shoulder) down toward St Martha’s Bridge, so changes to the existing road layout would be at a minimum, and indeed improved. It is our hope that no major issues should arise after the public consultation process, unlike with other schemes.
NCI would strongly urge Meath County Council to do everything in their power to ensure this scheme is delivered as quickly as possible. There is an urgent need for Navan to tackle the dominance of cars in the town, to reduce transport emissions, and to meet climate targets, and this scheme will be of vital importance to do that and to encourage more people to make the move to sustainable transport. As such, it should be prioritised as a key project for Meath County Council to deliver.
Cycle Lane Separation
We have concerns about how the cycle lane is separated from the main road carriageway. It is unclear from the drawings what separation exists. Ideally, we would like to see planters, space permitting, or kerbs or kerbed plinths. This would offer greater protection from motorised traffic by creating a physical barrier, especially as the contra-flow cycle lane will see cyclists on the outside of the lane directly beside oncoming traffic. It will also prevent illegal parking on the cycle lane. Illegal parking is a major issue in Navan, and we know that if there is space for vehicles to park there, then they likely will. Kerbs will prevent this. For entry and exit to all junctions, dropped kerbs should be provided to allow access.
Future Boyne Greenway
The route of the proposed scheme may also coincide with the route of the future Boyne Greenway. The Boyne Greenway is a proposed 52km route running alongside the River Boyne from Drogheda to Trim. The Oldbridge-Navan section is currently at Public Consultation. While no preliminary design work has begun on the Navan-Trim section, NCI understands this remaining section is planned to happen in the coming years. As such, the R147 Martha’s Bridge to Circular Road Scheme may incorporate a part of the route for the greenway.
The greenway is currently planned to terminate in Navan at Andy Brennan Park, on the east bank of the river. It is possible the route may continue south on this side as far as the Athlumney Riverside Walk, located just south of the Meath County Council offices at Buvinda House. However, it is more likely the greenway will utilise the Navan New Bridge and cross the river to the west bank. It could then follow a part of the Athlumney to Trim Road Cycle and Pedestrian Scheme, which is aligned along the R147 roadway running parallel to the River Boyne, and then, at the Circular Road junction, the proposed R147 Martha’s Bridge to Circular Road Scheme. The greenway could then return to the east bank at St. Martha’s Bridge, and continue south behind Buvinda House to join with the Athlumney Riverside Walk.
A visual impression of the future Boyne Greenway on the R147 – there is significant potential to showcase the Boyne Greenway at this location coming into Navan
With this in mind, it is important the R147 Martha’s Bridge to Circular Road Scheme is futureproofed for the greenway. While greenways should ideally be on traffic free or on very low traffic roads, sections along roads can also provide appealing starting points. As the Dublin Road is one of the primary roads coming into Navan, promoting the greenway here as a major urban, cultural and tourist attraction could have significant benefits. Important consideration should be given to the separation of the route from the main road, ideally with a grass verge or planter separation, as previously outlined.
General Arrangement: Sheet 1 of 3, drawing 1
The upgrade to the junction at the R147/Circular Road is a welcome one and we are pleased to see the provision of segregated crossings for cyclists. This will ensure a continuous route for cyclists to join with the new proposed scheme, as well as the Athlumney to Trim Road Cycle and Pedestrian Scheme to the left. We are also pleased to see the removal of the existing slip-lanes at both sides of the junction which will make it safer for both pedestrians and cyclists.
The Meath County Development Plan requires that all works are compliant with DMURS (or any successor legislation). Accordingly, bicycle signals should be provided at all junctions, to allow cyclists to be separated from traffic when using the junction.
General Arrangement: Sheet 1 of 3, Part 2
As the cycle lanes are segregated from the main carriageway, there is a concern as to how pedestrians and cyclists wishing to cross to the Maxol Service Station at this point should do so safely. Pedestrians will need to cross the cycle lane, while cyclists will require a dropped kerb to safely cross at this point. We propose including a pedestrian crossing opposite the station to make it easier to cross. This will also have a traffic calming effect as this section of the road can often see high speeds.
General Arrangement: Sheet 2 of 3, Part 1
We are pleased with the overall junction at Academy Square and the Fifth Province green, and believe the connection of cycle lanes here will be a very nice addition to the overall Navan Cycle Network (including a future planned scheme down Academy Street).
This junction has long been an eyesore coming into Navan and this scheme will vastly improve the appearance and overall public realm by providing not only high-quality cycling infrastructure, but also new paths, signage, seating, tree planting and a wildflower meadow. In short, it will be a much improved area.
General Arrangement: Sheet 2 of 3, Part 2
We are pleased to see the inclusion of an island-type ‘floating’ bus stop at this section which allows for the continuation of the contra-flow cycle lane. We are also pleased to see new bike parking provided at the bus stop, and note that bicycle parking at bus stops should be covered to enable commuters to lock bikes for the day.
General Arrangement: Sheet 3 of 3
While NCI commend the overall quality of the scheme, the shared paths at the Martha’s Bridge junction disrupt the overall flow and continuity of the route and raise several issues.
The National Cycle Manual clearly states that shared facilities should be avoided if at all possible – see Section 1.9:
“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
As this junction is at the very beginning of the scheme coming into Navan, having shared paths here will discourage cyclists from using the cycle lanes in a number of ways:
- Cyclists coming from the Dubin direction may not use the shared path and instead may continue on the main road carriageway. This can cause conflicts between cyclists and motorists. In addition, cyclists coming from Johnstown may also be discouraged from joining the cycle lane at all at the start of the scheme, as they know there is a shared path ahead.
- Cyclists coming from Johnstown (Bother Sion), who wish to turn right, may not cross using the three shared paths, but instead simply continue on the main road carriageway.
- Dropped kerb access should be provided before and after the shared paths, so cyclists using the main road carriageway can join the cycle lane if desired.
As an alternative, we propose to continue the contra-flow cycle lane across the junction, as per the image above.
The cycle lane should be continuous across the junction and give priority to cyclists, similar to the junction at Circular Road (Sheet 1 of 3, drawing 1). Cycle traffic lights should be installed as appropriate. This will ensure more cyclists will make use of the cycle lanes on the road and will provide continuity to the overall route. It will make it safer for pedestrians at the junction as it will safely separate pedestrians and cyclists, especially at morning times as this junction sees a lot of school children crossing at this point.
The space of the path could be reduced as well as the 6m wide toucan crossing in order to facilitate the cycle lane continuing across the junction.
Sheet 3 of 3 also state the ‘shared facilities extend over Martha’s Bridge to tie into existing shared facilities’. However, the drawing shows the shared facilities only going half way over the bridge. At that point there is currently no existing shared facility, but a footpath, and the cycle lane only begins further past the bridge on Bothar Sion (see image below).
We propose to extend the cycle lanes (single on both sides) the full distance past Martha’s Bridge to fully tie in to the existing cycle lanes on Bothar Sion. See image below.
At the very beginning of the scheme, it is unclear how cyclists traveling from the Dublin direction are supposed to merge onto the cycle lane – please see image below. It is unclear if there is dropped kerb access to enter the cycle lane without having to turn left onto Swan Lane. Access to the cycle lane should be provided here without having to turn left onto Swan Lane.
Scheme Boundary doesn’t extend to Rugby/Tennis clubs
The proposed scheme ends before the entrance to Kilcarn Court. For anyone wishing to cycle to the Rugby or Tennis club, this leaves a short distance with no cycle infrastructure. It should be a priority to enable active travel to sports grounds and leisure facilities.
A further 50 metres up Swan Lane is the entrance to the Old Balreask Woods and Oakleigh housing estates with 200 households that could be directly connected to Navan town centre via safe cycling infrastructure.
We would like to see the scheme extended up as far as the entrance to Old Balreask Woods and Oakleigh, which will also provide safe cycling infrastructure to the Rugby and Tennis clubs.
It is also unclear from the drawings why there is only a single flow cycle lane on one side of the road, heading toward the town, and not one heading in the opposite direction along Swan Lane to Kilcairn Court (see image below).
If the scheme cannot be extended further along Swan Lane, ideally the road should be marked as a ‘Shared Street’ with cycling logos marked on the road and appropriate traffic calming measures.
Indeed, even if cycle lanes could be extended to the housing estates mentioned above, the remainder of Swan Lane should be a clearly designated shared street, as a lot of vehicular traffic on this narrow road is currently traveling at excessive speed, endangering vulnerable road users. Swan Lane could provide a safe link to the Old Kilcarn Bridge in the absence of cycling infrastructure along the R147 between the Swan Lane junction and the Old Bridge Inn.
Navan Cycling Initiative warmly welcomes the R147 Martha’s Bridge to Circular Road Scheme and believes it to be an excellent proposal for the Dublin Road leading to Navan. We note it is a key part of the overall Navan Cycle Network, and hope to see it join with other adjoining schemes as soon as possible to form a functioning network. The scheme will be transformational for cycling in the town and will encourage more and more people to make the move to sustainable transport.
While we commend the high standard of the scheme overall, we would particularly request:
- the removal of the shared paths at the Martha’s Bridge junction to be replaced by the continuation of the contra-flow cycle lane across the junction
- the extension of the scheme to include, (a) the full width of Martha’s Bridge to tie in with the existing cycle lanes; (b) the road along Swan Lane to Old Balreask Woods and Oakleigh
We look forward to seeing the scheme implemented in a timely manner.
Ed Moynihan, Vice-Chairperson, Navan Cycling Initiative