Saša Novak Uí Chonchúir

Green Party Councillor for Limerick City North

Candidate in Local Elections on 7th June

Corbally Road Roundabout – an example of wanting to do the right thing but not knowing how to do it

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There are many issues with the proposed design of Corbally Roundabout upgrade. Most importantly, the design does not satisfy the criteria of sustainable safety.

Furthermore, the proposal is not in accordance with the existing best practice manuals, such as DMURS and National Cycle Manual, it only marginally increases safety for pedestrians, which is both poor value for money as well as a disregard for the safety of all road users.

I asked for a completely new design that follows the relevant manuals and guidelines and takes into account the principles of sustainable safety, accommodates and enables the agreed modal shift, and will serve the needs of all road users for many decades to come.

Interventions under Section 38 of the 1994 Act don’t require a consultation, but that doesn’t mean that the plans should not be scrutinised and adapted if they do not achieve what they are set out to achive – increased road safety for all users.

It is clear from the drawings that it was attempted to meet the needs of pedestrians in this plan and make the environment safer, however, it unfortunately fell short on pedestrian safety and excluded the cycling aspect altogether.

The proposed design of Corbally Roundabout upgrade works

We are retrofitting an unsafe and unbalanced piece of infrastructure with retrograde measures that will not fix the road safety issues that exist today, let alone make it fit for purpose for the next 20-30 years.

My submission to the Council asked to reconsider the design based on 5 issues I set out below:

  1. The use of large roundabouts (i.e. those with radii greater than 7.5m) should be restricted to areas with lower levels of pedestrian activity. Where large roundabouts currently exist, road authorities are encouraged, as part of any major upgrade works, to replace them with signalised junctions or retrofit them so that they are more compact and/or pedestrian and cycle friendly, as is appropriate. (DMURS, p. 105).
  2. National Cycle Manual lists the following principles of Cycle Friendly Roundabouts, which are all ignored in the proposed design:
  • Approaching traffic should be slowed (to stopping speed). This provides better gap acceptance, greater legibility for drivers and a safer cycling environment.
  • Traffic speed on the roundabout should also be controlled by means of a narrow gyratory lane (the one that goes around!).
  • Approach arms should be aligned towards the centre point of the island and not deflected to the left (like a fidget spinner not the eye of the storm from space).
  • Traffic lanes should approach roundabouts at right angles rather than obliquely, and without any flares. This makes it easier to see cyclists and traffic on the roundabout. It is easier for pedestrians to cross the mouth of the side road.
  • Multi-lane approaches are not recommended, as vehicles in the outer approach lane preclude eye contact between traffic on the inner approach lane and cyclists on the roundabout (imagine all rows of seats in the cinema being set at the same height).
  • Double or multiple gyratory lanes are not cycle friendly due to traffic weaving and the risk of side swipe.

3. DMURS calls that designers place pedestrians at the top of the user hierarchy, followed by cyclists (page 28)

  • lack of pedestrian crossing/priority on two arms of four of the roundabout contradicts this
  • lack of STOP lines in front of the crossings contradicts this
  • cyclists are unaccounted for in the new layout and there is no improvement of safety from the old layout, therefore the design does not follow the hierarchy when it comes to cycling

4. DMURS calls for integrated approaches that incorporate elements of urban design and landscaping that instinctively alter behaviour, thus reducing the necessity for more conventional measures (such as physical barriers and the road geometry) alone to manage behaviour (page 25).

  • leaving a two lane carriage way at the mouth of the roundabout encourages speed and extends the width of pedestrian interaction with motor vehicles (not only wide, but also long long long zebra crossings).
  • the absence of pedestrian crossing on Athlunkard Street gives motor vehicles the priority. The conventional approach would be to install barriers, however barriers have been shown to cause and encourage undesired, dangerous behaviours by drivers and pedestrians, and creating conflict situations in unexpected places. The reasoning that the section is too dangerous for a pedestrian crossing should indeed be the reason to put one in. There must be a solution found for the blind crest of O’Dwyer’s Bridge as it puts people in danger.
  • Athlunkard Street is a school route for students from Lee Estate and St. Mary’s Park going to Ardscoil Mhuire and Gaelcholaiste (old and new location). The proposed design with elimination of pedestrian crossing on Athlunkard Street ignores the desire lines of these vulnerable users. The moved pedestrian crossing on Corbally Road will not contribute to instinctive behaviour alteration.

5. I would suggest that the proposal is a text book case of what DMURS refers to as UPDESIGNING (p. 24). The proposed changes are going to bring about a piece of infrastructure that will continue to be unsafe for the vulnerable users and will be poor value for money. It is very obvious from first sight that cyclists will continue to use the road as there is no cycle track linking into the track at the roundabout. The pedestrians on Athlunkard Street will continue to follow the desire lines and any physical barriers will just move the problem further down the road.

The design as proposed is not aligned with DMURS or NCM. It would seem that the design team did not follow the relevant manuals and it is therefore imperative that this design goes for further consideration with a team well versed in guidelines and manuals that instruct and inform interventions to our road infrastructure.