herald

Sunday 8 December 2019

'Bus gates' and 'priority traffic lights' could be key

Traffic lights would give priority to buses in the plan
Traffic lights would give priority to buses in the plan

Bus gates and bus priority traffic lights are the key to saving trees and gardens on many of the 16 proposed bus corridors.

The NTA received a massive backlash when it proposed to widen roads as part of the Bus Connects plan.

The bus gates and bus priority traffic lights would mean that instead of creating extra road space, the existing road space continues to be shared, but to the advantage of buses.

"The gates work by only allowing public transport and emergency service vehicles through a section of roadway, and they will be monitored by cameras that could allow the NTA to police them and issue fines to those that flout the rules," said the NTA's Grainne Mackin.

"The priority traffic lights work by stopping car traffic on a road to give a bus priority in getting ahead of them.

"They could become a feature on many roads around Dublin, especially where a bus lane ends and joins the road space used by car traffic."

The use of gates or bus priority lights could potentially save trees and gardens on the routes from Ballymun, Blanchardstown, Bray, Tallaght, Greenhills, Ballsbridge and Kimmage, and in areas such as the Navan Road and Prussia Street.

This could mean that controversial initial plans to cut down mature trees at Mobhi Road, Ballsbridge and Shankill, as well as eat into gardens in Crumlin, Ballsbridge and Kimmage, could be eliminated or reduced.

Peak

Other ways of saving trees and gardens could potentially use "time plating" of traffic restrictions.

"This is where the restrictions are only enforced at peak hours, but outside of those hours, the traffic shares the space on the road," Ms Mackin said.

The initial vision of Bus Connects was to have two car lanes, two bus lanes and two cycle lanes where possible, but in reaction to community and business concerns, and to save lines of trees, Bus Connects is now floating the idea of sacrificing one car traffic lane on certain roads.

This could potentially be rolled out on streets such as Baggot Street and Dorset Street.

One-way systems are another feature being considered by Bus Connects as traffic control measures, and the communities around Mobhi Road and Pembroke Road, as well as a section of Nutley Lane.

A one-way system in Santry was on the original plans, but residents on the Swords Road have expressed a concern at this and a two-way system is emerging as the preferred option.

Bus Connects planners have come up with a unique suggestion here that may be a win-win for residents and commuters.

"The houses here are on a height beside the road, and they were not designed with driveways for cars," Ms Mackin said.

Some people have made cuts into their gardens to provide themselves a parking space, with steps leading from there to their front door.

"Some residents along this stretch of road are open to the idea of the road being widened if we create a parking space for them while we are doing it. It's a definite possibility, and if it is done in a uniform way, the look of the street can be very good," she added.

Apart from 230km of bus lanes, the NTA is also planning 200km of cycle lanes.

Under possible revisions, cycle lanes may be taken off main roads in some areas and directed through quieter streets of along riverbanks, such as in Fairview and Kimmage.

Other possible changes include putting cycle lanes behind lines of trees, so they would run between the trees and footpath instead of at the side of the road.

Ambitious plans to place a new cycle and pedestrian bridge across the Naas Road/Longmile Road junction, as well as a bridge over the canal at Cross Guns in Phibsborough, are also under consideration.

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