Navan Cycling Initiative recently made a submission for the Ratoath Pedestrian & Cycling Scheme
Public consultation on the project can be found on Meath County Council’s website. View Navan Cycling Initiative’s submission for this proposal below.
Part 8 P8/22006 – Ratoath Pedestrian & Cycling Scheme
PUBLIC CONSULTATION – May 2022
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 Meath 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 in Ratoath. Navan Cycling Initiative (NCI) strongly supports the implementation of the Cycle Network Plan for the Greater Dublin Area, which incorporates the Ratoath Cycle Network.
Safe cycling infrastructure and a high quality network of routes is very much needed in Ratoath and many towns and villages across Meath. We are seeing a big increase in the number of people out cycling right across county Meath for a wide variety of reasons, be it for leisure, commuting, exercise or mental health benefits, especially during these times. More and more people are willing to cycle if it is made safe and convenient to do so.
We do have some comments and observations on the scheme that we encourage the council to take on board as the project progresses.
2.1: Shared Pedestrian and Cycle Paths
Throughout the Ratoath Pedestrian and Cycle Scheme, there are a number of plans to include or redevelop shared pedestrian and cycle paths.
- Woodlands Link Road
- Skryne Road
- R155 Fairyhouse Road
- Swords Road
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
NCI are very concerned with the continued use of shared facilities in proposals such as this. In general, shared spaces between pedestrians and cyclists should be avoided, as recommended by the National Cycle Manual, as they tend to cause undue levels of conflict. This is particularly true in relation to mobility impaired users.
Shared space is proposed in a large number of locations on this scheme, outlined above, and should be reviewed. Fully segregated cycle lanes should be provided with kerbs on either side or by having the cycle lanes at a different level than the footpath. These measures discourage cyclists from using the footpath section and discourages pedestrians from walking on the cycle track. This will make it safer for both pedestrians and cyclists when foot and bike volume increases.
We encourage Meath County Council to alter the final designs to include fully segregated cycle lanes where possible.
2.2: Width of Cycle Tracks / Cycle Lanes
On a number of roads (R125; Woodlands Link Road; Skryne Road) provision for cycling is only on one side of the road. It is unclear on the drawings if the proposed shared pedestrian/cycle paths are intended to be a 2 way for cyclists. If they are not, it is unclear how cyclists are supposed to cycle in the opposite direction from the new paths. Not specifying if they are contra-flow cycle paths may lead to confusion and conflict between cyclists, pedestrians and motorists, as well as problems at intersections.
The width of the proposed shared pedestrian/cycle paths is 3m, which is insufficient if the paths are intended to be contra-flow.
From the drawings, there is also no indication of the width of the proposed cycle tracks / cycle lanes.
The above proposed cross section diagram (sheet 2 of 17; 802a) shows a shared path, not the cycle track highlighted above in red. There is a lack of clarity on what width it is to be. None of the other drawings (sheet 1; sheet 6) which propose a cycle track include a cross section diagram to indicate the width of the track.
The standard recommendation width for cycle tracks is now accepted as 2m standard width, as per the National Cycle Manual. From the above photo montages, these cycle tracks fall well short of that and will not facilitate passing manoeuvres by cyclists, or unusual bike types. In other words, this proposed scheme is not compliant with the required standard.
2.3: Shared Streets
NCI notes a number of ‘shared streets’ proposed in these plans (R125; Main Street; the town centre itself; Curragha Rd), particularly leading to the town centre. It is unclear why shared streets have been proposed instead of continuing with dedicated cycling infrastructure. The below image shows the R125 heading to the town centre from the first roundabout closest to the town beside Steeplechase Hill, which is proposed to be a shared street (sheet 3; 803). On the other two main roads leading to this roundabout, there are proposals for cycling infrastructure.
This R125 road acts as the quickest way to access the town centre from the many populated areas located in the east of town. Having disconnected cycling infrastructure which does not join up will not encourage people to cycle, especially for shorter journeys when going to the shops or other amenities in the town centre. There is ample room for the inclusion of dedicated cycling infrastructure on these roads with more planning.
The Curragha Road, sheet 7; 807
The R135 junction of Curragha Road and Skryne Road – not suitable for a shared space
In particular, the proposed use of a shared street on the Curragha Road (above, sheet 7; 807) is also very concerning. This is a very busy 50km road, with a very busy junction at the crossroad with the Skryne Road, which leads to several housing developments and Ratoath Rugby Club, and needs dedicated cycling infrastructure to encourage people to cycle. Having a shared street here will not do that.
There are a number of junctions and roundabouts where cycle lanes end and turn into shared pedestrian and cycle paths. Cycle lanes should be continuous and cyclists should be given priority over motorists at junctions and roundabouts.
Having disconnected sections of cycle lanes which do not follow the flow of the road cannot be described as a coherent network, and cyclists will not be encouraged to use them if they are interrupted at every junction.
At roundabouts, cycling and walking should have priority. Modern Dutch-design walking and cycling priority roundabouts or grade-segregated roundabouts should be implemented as used in urban and suburban areas where people have to cross.
3) The Broadmeadow Greenway
The Broadmeadow Greenway is a very welcome development and will greatly benefit the people of Ratoath. We also welcome the addition of a new path north of the river which will provide access further east towards Meadowbank Hill, which will offer an additional walking and cycling route to the town.
To ensure both pedestrians and cyclists can conveniently use the overall route, paths should be equally divided into walking and cycling sections with a painted line. At entrances and exits, if gates or barriers are required, bollards should be used as opposed to swing gates, kissing gates or a-frames. This will ensure safe and convenient access for all including wheelchairs, prams, bicycles for people with disabilities or for bicycles carrying children.
While Navan Cycling Initiative strongly supports plans for a Ratoath Cycle Network as per the implementation of the Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network Plan, we are disappointed with the standards exhibited in the proposed scheme, which do not meet the basic national standards. We urge Meath County Council to return to the drawing board on this scheme and raise their level of ambition in order to provide a scheme for the future of cycling in the area.
Navan Cycling Initiative