Given the fact that the current carriageway width of Fr. Russell Rd is 7.5m and the scheme proposes to reallocate some of this road space away from the private car, I would like to express general support for this scheme, however I believe some aspects could be improved.
From the Part 8 planning report:
“DMURS includes guidance on carriageway widths and recommends that designers should minimise the width of the carriageway…Low to moderate speeds should be encouraged on the roadway with the recommended width in DMURS being 6 – 6.5m”
DMURS does state that the preferred carriageway width on Arterial and Link streets are 3.0m and 3.25m. However given the limited room for footpaths and cycle lanes on Fr. Russell Rd. I believe that consideration should be given to narrowing the carriageway width to 2.75m, which would give more room for active travel modes. A roadway width of 5.5m is still within DMURS guidelines for an Arterial or Link street. This would allow space to widen the cycle lanes beyond 1.5m which is very narrow.
Consideration of a bi-directional cycle lane and other design aspects of a similar active travel scheme in Dun Laoghaire.
Fr. Russell Rd is not too dissimilar to the R112 Taney Rd between Stillorgan and Dundrum in the Dun Laoghaire County Council area. Coincidentally this road is also subject to a proposed active travel route: , and it may be useful to consider some aspects of this scheme, in particular:
A 3m bidirectional which was considered better than 2 x 1.5m lanes
Continuous cycle lanes and footpaths over side junctions, with set back used so that cars cross the cycle lane and footpath at a more perpendicular angle
Bus stops inline with the road carriageway
Unsignalised pedestrian crossing points across the cycle lane at bus stops
The proposed strategy is not consistent with the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021.
A reduction in emissions of 35% over 2018 levels by 2030 proposed in the Strategy is not consistent with the national climate objective, and when taken with 2030 targets from other draft plans published by the Authority in 2022 (Greater Dublin Area: -37.5%; Waterford -26%) raises questions of how the Authority is performing its functions consistent with the provisions of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021.
“(1) A relevant body shall, in so far as practicable, perform its functions in a manner consistent with—
(a) the most recent approved climate action plan,
(b) the most recent approved national long term climate action strategy,
(c) the most recent approved national adaptation framework and approved sectoral adaptation plans,
(d) the furtherance of the national climate objective, and
(e) the objective of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the effects of climate change in the State.”.
– Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021
The proposed strategy is not consistent with the National Planning Framework
The Modelling Report notes that “The NTA, in association with Limerick City and County Council (LCCC) and Clare County Council (CCC) prepared a Planning Datasheet for the 2040 Land-use Scenario for the application within the LSMA Transport Strategy. This Planning Datasheet has been used as the baseline land-use scenario for all modelling of the strategy options and preferred strategy.”. This planning data sheet assigns the majority of population growth in a ‘doughnut’ arrangement on greenfield sites at the periphery of the city. This is in direct contravention of the policy outlined in the National Planning Framework where 50% of growth in regional cities will be developed within their existing built-up footprints. Furthermore, concrete plans being progressed by state agencies (e.g. the Land Development Agency’s plan to deliver over housing for 6,000 new residents on the lands surrounding Colbert Station) have been ignored in the proposed Planning Datasheet.
National Policy Objective 3b
Deliver at least half (50%) of all new homes that are targeted in the five Cities and suburbs of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford, within their existing built-up footprints
– National Planning Framework
The proposed strategy is not consistent with the National Sustainable Mobility Policy
The National Sustainable Mobility Policy sets out a target of a 10% reduction in kilometres driven by fossil fuelled cars by 2030. The Strategy proposes an increase in road capacity through the fact that it “commits to delivering the N/M20 Cork to Limerick Scheme and the N69/M21 Foynes to Limerick Road” as well as proposed roads to open up development lands in the suburbs. The Strategy fails to address any induced demand that will be caused by these projects in the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area. Outside of the city centre area, the Strategy fails to identify any measures that could reduce road capacity that would result in traffic evaporation.
To deliver at least 500,000 additional daily active travel and public transport journeys and a 10% reduction in kilometres driven by fossil fuelled cars by 2030 in line with metrics for transport set out in the Climate Action Plan 2021
National Sustainable Mobility Policy
The proposed strategy is not consistent with the Authority’s own guidance on bus network design
The Authority published an excellent consultation as part of its work on the Cork BusConnects project which outlined two fundamental issues relating to bus network design: the tension between coverage and ridership; and the importance of interchange in providing a coherent public transport network that can deliver modal shift. Unfortunately the proposed bus network for Limerick consists of a series of meandering routes optimised for coverage with few interchange possibilities. Exacerbating this is a proposed traffic arrangement for the city centre which insists on directing buses through O’Connell St, away from the bus and rail station and preventing effective interchange between services.
A well-connected network is key to high patronage. Interchange must be easy and reliable so that people can reach many destinations in a reasonable amount of time, at a reasonable cost.
Bus Network Redesign Volume I: Choices Report – BusConnects Cork
I live in Limerick City but I stay in Killaloe a number of times a month.
Killaloe and Ballina are not pleasant places to walk and cycle. There seems to be a lot of SUVs in the town and a lot of parking on footpaths.
The construction of the new bridge and bypass of Killaloe offers a really good opportunity to transform both Ballina and Killaloe for the better. A great aim would be to make it possible for people of all ages to independently travel between and within Killaloe and Ballina.
The old bridge should definitely be closed to motor traffic after the new bridge opens. To have cars still on it at any time of day would represent a significant failure.
Serious consideration should also be made to close the current R463 in Killaloe between the old bridge and the link road from New St to where the public toilet block is by the canal – it was built itself as a bypass and it should be converted to pedestrian and cycle use after the new bypass is completed.
After the bypass is built, streets in Killaloe and Ballina need to be transformed. Most streets, especially on the Killaloe side, should be made one-way to make room for segregated cycle tracks at least 2m wide to allow people of all ages to cycle safely.
Main Street should have all parking removed and the only traffic should be deliveries before 10am. The current situation where cars mount the footpath as they drive down Main Street is unacceptable.
In the context of the climate crisis and the need to make Killaloe and Ballina a great place to live and to visit whether or not you own a car, I urge you to take the opportunity to direct all traffic on to the new bypass, retaining access for cars but reorienting the roads and streets of Killaloe and Ballina towards people.
Submission on Limerick City and County Council Road Traffic (30 kilometres per hour Special Speed Limit) Bye-Laws 2021
We’ve spent a lot of time and money over the last few decades in Limerick, building bypasses:
Limerick is on a crossroads between, Cork, Galway, Kerry and Dublin. We built a lot of bypasses to facilitate this interurban traffic that had no real business passing our doors. But, despite promises of a future city that would be focused on people (just one more bypass!), none of our streets ever changed, and the interurban traffic was replaced with intraurban traffic.
If we want a better Limerick, a more prosperous Limerick, a more inclusive Limerick, one place we can start is our streets. The current proposal is a fairly modest expansion of the 30km/h zone into a few more housing estates in Limerick City, most of which are on the northside. This is welcome, but it is a small change. We are not proposing to expand the 30km/h area in our city centre, and the majority of the city centre, where we were promised that pedestrians would come first, is still a 50km/h zone. The towns and villages of County Limerick are similarly prioritised for motor traffic.
I would like to suggest a different approach, that we make all built up areas of Limerick City, and our towns and villages in Limerick County, a 30km/h limit, with certain exceptions, for reasons of safety, noise pollution, air pollution and climate.
The Road Safety Authority says that cutting speed from 50km/h to 30km/h will change the probability of a person in a car killing a person walking from 50% to 10%.
The main reason for this dramatic difference in the probability of fatalities is that the kinetic energy of the car is proportional to the square of the velocity: ½mv2. What’s also worth mentioning in passing is that the other variable in the equation, the mass of the vehicle, has also changed, the best selling car in Ireland last month was the Hyundai Tucson which has a real world weight of 1.8t, in contrast to the slightly under 1.0t of the Toyota Corollas who used to drive the city’s streets back in the 1990s. We need a reduction in speed limit to compensate for the motor industry’s tendency to build much heavier cars.
We need to cut the speed limit in all urban areas to save lives. The headlines below all refer to different cases of pedestrians being killed by people driving cars in Limerick.
Limerick is a noisy city, and it is affecting our health. The European NGO Transport and Environment says that reducing the urban speed limit from 50 km/h to 30 km/h reduces noise by 3 decibels, or approximately halving the background noise, allowing more of us to leave our windows open, or to converse comfortably on our streets.
We are exceeding the recommended level of particulates. Even during lockdown in April, we were exceeding WHO-recommended levels of particulates in our city centre.
Reducing the speed limit would particularly help reduce NOx levels from traffic.
The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021 mandates that the next two carbon budgets, covering the period to 2030, must represent a 51% reduction in emissions over 2018 levels and also mandates that a public body (which includes Limerick City and County Council) must, in so far as practicable, perform its functions in a manner consistent with the national climate objective (net zero by 2050) and the objective of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the effects of climate change in the State
The planet is literally burning and we need to do everything we can to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, 20% of which in Ireland comes from transport. We need to encourage people to walk, cycle, or take public transport in urban areas. Reducing the urban speed limit will make driving less attractive.
Once the 30km/h default urban speed limit is established in Limerick, we can then look at very limited exceptions, perhaps on one or two of the many bypasses that have been built in the city, where the limit could be increased back to 50km/h. Critically this should only take place where there is a comprehensive safety audit and the provision of infrastructure to ensure that pedestrians and cyclists are physically segregated from traffic travelling at 50km/h, including at junctions.
Which counties in Ireland drive the most and least? What are the car ownership rates in each county? Ranking by kms driven per capita. Private cars only. Vehicle and km data from the CSO Transport Omnibus 2019. Population data from the earlier 2016 census. Link to a CSV file with the data.
This January I will be starting an MSc in Transport and Mobility in TU Dublin.
I’ve been a bit of a transport nerd most of my adult life, from being on the national committee of Rail Users Ireland when I was in Dublin, to being involved with Limerick Cycling, Liveable Limerick, An Taisce, Get Limerick Moving, and the Irish Pedestrian Network once I moved back to Limerick.
After so many false starts, starting with the excitement ahead of Transport 21 in the early ‘00s and continuing through the ‘00s and ‘10s, I think we’re finally at the stage where we’re realising how we can use transport as a tool to transform our economy, our society, and our environment.
Enabling the sustainable mobility of our population will have untold benefits. Our economy will have a great future once we can decouple its growth away from carbon emissions and gridlock. Our society will benefit from becoming more compact and more connected, both with each other and with places of work, education, and entertainment. Providing top quality facilities for people to walk, cycle and take public transport will improve our cities, towns, and villages. Supporting active transport will have a real impact on the health of our population.
Transport currently makes up 20% of Ireland’s emissions. We need a pathway to get this down to zero, and quickly. Electric vehicles are not a panacea and we need to find ways of prioritising walking, cycling, and public transport to grow our economy and increase social mobility without the limiting factors of carbon emissions or traffic jams.
Mobility affects many areas of life. Solving mobility means considering where we build houses, offices, shops, and schools. It means properly considering cells of activity in communities to make sure they are properly served. It means applying inclusive human-centred design principles to make mobility accessible to all. It means efficiently using all the arms of the state to deliver effective solutions.
There may not be a semantic difference between the terms “transport” and “mobility”, but I prefer to think that “transport” involves the outputs of investment: the cycle lane, widened footpath or tram service. I like to think of “mobility” as the outcomes or the “how it works” for people: it’s the safe cycle to school with a friend, a convenient commute to a new job, an easy trip to a hospital appointment, a Saturday adventure with a grandchild. There’s always a temptation to focus on the hard engineering of transport but considering mobility requires you to think of the person making their journey, and trying to make it as attractive and effortless as possible.
It’s going to be a balancing act travelling to Dublin to do this course while maintaining my commitments to work as well as the voluntary commitments I have in Limerick. But I really feel it’s worth it, because with the inevitable national shift away from funding roads to funding public and active transport about to get underway, we need access to the latest research and best practice in Limerick. Many of the mistakes made in the east of the country haven’t yet been made in the mid-west, and I believe we can use a relatively small investment in mobility as a force multiplier for economic growth and social inclusion outside Dublin.
Pedestrians should be top of the transport hierarchy but this can be difficult without a dedicated organisation to advocate for their needs. Neasa Hourigan was so frustrated last year by the inaccessibility of Dublin’s streets for pedestrians, especially walking with her daughter who has a visual impairment, that she set up the Dublin Blockers Twitter account to document some of the barriers Dublin’s pedestrians face in simply trying to get around. She later formed the Irish Pedestrian Network to try and formalise a group to advocate for pedestrians, inspired by the recent success of various cycling advocacy groups.
Neasa came to Limerick in September and there was good attendance for her meeting in Narrative 4. There was a sense that we needed a group in Limerick to be a local presence for the Irish Pedestrian Network, to be a voice for better facilities for pedestrians in Limerick City, and throughout the towns and villages of County Limerick.
A lot of people who attended the meeting in September got involved in the campaign to improve the plans for O’Connell St. The fact that we were unable to persuade councillors and officials to accept that even part of our main street should be reserved for pedestrians makes the establishment of Limerick Pedestrian Network even more urgent. Now that the council has passed plans for O’Connell St, it’s time to formalise a voice for pedestrians.
There will be a meeting on Monday 11th November 2019 in 2 Pery Square at 7pm to try and establish a steering group. The task of the steering group will be to properly establish the Network over the next six months, reaching out to different groups to make it as inclusive as possible, and linking in with groups who are already working in this area. No matter how we travel, almost all of us start and end our journeys as pedestrians. If you’re at all interested in helping to give a voice to footpath users, especially those with mobility needs, I hope you’ll consider coming along.
There’s evidence of a shift in thinking in Limerick about transport. My social media feed is alive with enthusiastic Limerick sustainable transport advocates eager to share best urbanist practice from other European cities. The government has set targets for a large reduction in emissions from transport, and there is an optimism that solutions to get us there might actually lead to a better quality of life for all. Thirteen councillors elected said they agreed or strongly agreed that 10% of the transport budget should go on cycling, in response to questions from Limerick Cycling Campaign.
I’d like to go a bit further and advocate that 70% of our transport budget should go on walking and cycling. It sounds like a lot but it’s utterly achievable and would result in a healthier and happier city and county. It’s inspired by a graphic from the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets (the cool transport nerds call it DMURS apparently. Here’s a PDF link), the official guidelines for engineers designing streets in Irish cities towns and villages.
If that’s the hierarchy of sustainable transportation, then why doesn’t Limerick’s €38 million transport budget reflect that? Here’s how I’d split the money.
Forty percent on infrastructure for pedestrians
Whether we drive, use public transport, or cycle, we all start and finish our journeys as pedestrians. The only way of spending money that benefits everyone in Limerick, regardless of income or other status, is to spend it on walking. Yes we need a superblock in the city centre to make it a world class walking environment. But we need more: in our suburbs, our county towns and villages, we need space to walk, where a family can walk two, three or four abreast comfortably, where kids can play and old people can sit and we can interact and be comfortable in our environment. Spending nearly half our transport budget on walking (with a special emphasis on those with special mobility needs, like buggy and wheelchair users) will transform our city, our towns and our villages.
Thirty percent on infrastructure for cycling
Spending thirty percent of our transport budget on cycling has the potential to take a huge number of cars off the roads. The majority of journeys taken in the city are of a length that could comfortably be taken by bike, even by someone who isn’t athletic (proud slob cyclist and owner of zero items of lycra clothing here). We could connect all primary schools in the city with top-quality, segregated cycle lanes that kids could use to cycle to school. We could identify all the main areas of employment and make sure that workers can get there easily and safely on bikes.
Twenty percent on infrastructure for public transport
We need fully segregated bus lanes between Raheen and Castletroy via a superblock in the city. If we had the infrastructure, we could get to town in 15 mins, even at peak times. The distances are shorter between Caherdavin/LIT/Moyross and Roxboro/Southill but some bus priority measures on those routes would make journey times shorter. The most important bit is to surround a mostly-pedestrianised city centre with bus lanes in either direction.
Ten percent on roads
We still need to maintain our roads, and driving will always be necessary for some. But cars should be at the bottom of our hierarchy: and we certainly shouldn’t be spending the vast majority of our transport budget encouraging more people to drive. The new Limerick Transport Strategy will undoubtedly contain some white elephant road projects. We should have the courage to reject them and focus on a more sustainable and better future.
Liveable Limerick are proposing a “Superblock” in the city centre (PDF link with more information) bordered by William Street, Parnell Street, Mallow Street and Henry Street. The Superblock would be accessible for vehicles, but would not allow vehicles to travel through the block on their way to somewhere else. It’s a fabulous idea that would allow us to achieve a really ambitious people-centered city centre that would act as a magnet for investment in the region.
Here is a simplified schematic of the current traffic configuration around the Superblock, with each lane shown in black:
Cities that plan to grow need excellent public transport. Buses in Limerick City are…less than excellent. The most frequent service from Raheen to Castletroy in particular suffers large delays because buses have to thread a meandering route through the city centre. There is also little integration between bus services. How could you configure the streets bordering the Superblock that would give priority to public transport? Here’s one idea, with bus lanes in green:
You would need to remove on-street parking from Mallow St to enable a third lane of traffic. But the benefits would be huge:
All buses have fully segregated routes in both directions around the superblock
All bus services interchange at the bus/rail station, apart from the Westbury/Fr Russell Rd service which offers a cross street interchange with all other services at Mallow St
Faster bus times
More reliable service
Here’s what the city bus services would look like with this plan:
For a stretch goal, Parnell St could easily accommodate an on-street terminal for private buses, allowing private buses run by Dublin Coach, Citylink and JJ Kavanagh’s to interchange with city services, and to take advantage of segregated routes around the city centre.
It’s always been a challenge to try and plan public transport journeys in Ireland that don’t begin or end in the centre of Dublin. Irish Rail and Bus Eireann have their own journey planners, but they don’t integrate together with each other, never mind with some of the excellent new private coach operators who are taking advantage of the new motorway network to offer quick and comfortable direct services.
Enter GetThere.ie – a proper public transport journey planner for Ireland. You can enter your origin and destination, and the site will spit out all your available options. The site is very clever at integrating between different services, so for example a search from Kilkenny to Limerick will offer you the option of taking Dublin Coach to Kildare Village, and then taking Irish Rail to Kilkenny.
What’s more, the site has an integrated carsharing facility – you can request or offer a car share, and it shows up immediately in the search results.
The guy behind it is very responsive and responded very quickly to a comment I made on the site. I love the fact that something so useful and complex has been developed by one guy plugging away with (presumably) a shoestring budget. Although presumably his job could have been a lot easier if the National Transport Agency mandated that operators share their timetables in an open format. Knowing the NTA they’ll probably drop a few million on a competing website which won’t be nearly as good.