Danger for Cyclists: Here's a Place to Avoid, Part II

“This is definitely an awful junction,” says Colm Ryder of the Dublin Cycling Campaign.

It’s a spot where three collisions have been flagged on our cycle-collision tracker map, one reported as serious, and another as a near miss.

It is 3:30pm and we are stood in the rain at the corner of Rathmines Road and Military Road. As we watch, a stream of cars head out from Cathal Brugha Barracks and awkwardly jig through Rathmines Road before making their way east on Richmond Hill.

The staggered nature of the intersection means that such a movement requires a quick left turn onto Rathmines Road, before a quick right onto Richmond Hill.

“All that area is very residential,” says Ryder, pointing down Richmond Hill, “but look at the amount of cars that are taking it.”

Ryder says it’s a bit of a rat-run. Most the people heading east onto Richmond Hill are likely doing so because they can’t turn right off of Rathmines Road where it meets the canal. Up there you’re only choice is to go straight across Portobello Bridge, or left onto Grove Road.

“There are people trying to do all kinds of weird manoeuvres,” said Ryder, as we watched cars trying to get across traffic on Rathmines Road.

Cars were starting to stack up in the middle of Rathmines Road, trying to turn right onto Richmond Hill. “When they see something they’ll jump for it because they’ve been waiting a while. It encourages people to do crazy things,” says Ryder.

For two of the three men who wrote descriptions of what happened, cars “jumping” for the right-hand turn were at fault.

One said he was struck badly back in 2012: “I was cycling towards the canal and a man coming from the canal end turned up the military road in front of me without indicating and I was hit badly. Bad injuries as a result.”

The second respondent was a bit luckier, reporting a near miss as he travelled in the other direction.

“A car in front of me had stopped at the yellow box with Richmond Hill to the left, and the car in the opposite lane took this opportunity to take a right hand turn into Richmond Hill. I didn’t see this turning car from my vantage point in the bike lane, and as I cycled along the bike lane the car broke through the junction and missed me by inches,” he said.

Although this man says he technically had the right of way, he always approaches the intersection with more caution now, adding that cars should inch out into the cycle lane as slowly as they do into the bus lane.

Ryder points out that cars travelling towards Rathmines Road on Richmond Hill routinely inch out into the cycle lane to get a better look at traffic.

A car inching out into traffic on the Rathmines Road is exactly what sent the third cyclist “over the bonnet,” according to the man’s entry into our bicycle-collision tracker.

Solutions

This problem might have an easy solution. Ryder points out that there is a complete dearth of road markings that might help bring the cars to heel.

“There is no stop line, the only line they see is that yellow box,” says Ryder, “so they’re going right up to that.”

Ryder also points out that the Military Road is very wide where it meets Rathmines Road. And the road’s wideness and lack of stop lines signals to cars that they can feel free to come right up to the flow of traffic, and not to worry about letting pedestrians cross in front of them or being mindful of cyclists.

If Ryder were to redesign the junction, he would narrow it considerably and simply put clearer road markings that signal to cars that they have to stop to allow pedestrians and cyclists to pass.

As well as further research into the possibility of installing a traffic signal or what the effects of closing Richmond Hill to through traffic would be, Ryder thinks Rathmines is a prime candidate for a 30 kph speed limit.

“This area, as far as we’re concerned, should be one of the 30 kph zones. It’s a village area with a lot of pedestrian traffic,” says Ryder. “That’s the kind of thing that needs to be looked at.”

Reader responses

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Ciaran Ferrie
16 December at 12:45

The no right turn from Rathmines Road to the canal is one part of the problem. The no left turn from Rathmines Road to Castlewood Avenue is another. Both combined have created a rat-run through Richmond Hill to Mountpleasant Avenue which is completely inappropriate for the scale and nature of those streets. A raised surface across side roads where they meet the main Rathmines Road would give priority to pedestrians and cyclists and encourage drivers to stop, or at least slow down, before trying to manoeuvre across the traffic lanes. This should apply to Richmond Hill, Military Road, Casltewood Avenue and all other side roads of Lower Rathmines Road.

Martin Murray
16 December at 14:55

There are quite a number of no right turn junctions around Dublin that are not nearly as dangerous as that junction on Richmond hill,but sure there only cyclists, why bother.

Paul Horan
16 December at 15:38

This is also the exit from St Marys where an increasing number of the boys are cycling to school.

wheelbuckle
18 December at 15:25

For anyone who is cycling this road, the safest way to approach it, whichever direction one is going, is to take more of the lane and command it so that the cyclist is prominent and visible to traffic trying to turn from either side, and also ensuring traffic behind the cyclist doesn’t attempt a dangerous close pass. Coming from Rathmines, this prevents canal-bound traffic from squeezing between the queue for the right-turn onto Richmond and the cyclist on the far left of the bus lane. As the article indirectly highlights, it’s especially dangerous for cyclists to be closer to the left-hand side of the lane rather than the centre of the lane because of traffic from Military Road inching forward, creating a pinch-point. Coming from the canal, it’s safest to join the flow of traffic at least 100m before the junction is reached. This increases visibility from all sides, and means an accident similar to the near-miss reported in the article is an impossibility, as no one’s vision is hindered on any side if the cyclist takes the lane. This also means the cyclist isn’t caught behind a line of parked cars starting just at the pub/pizza place. If a cyclist doesn’t feel confident enough taking the lane because the flow of traffic is fast and hard to get into, extreme caution must be taken if approaching via the cycle track, as noted in the article with the near miss example. The only saving grace is a set of pedestrian lights very close by which can act as a brake on traffic going through this junction at speed. Don’t forget that as a cyclist, you’re regarded as a vehicle in traffic, and there’s no obligation to cycle on the left or on the cycle track. It’s in your best interest to put your safety first rather than shrink to the left, fearful of traffic – you ARE traffic! In my personal experience, 80% of traffic will accommodate you going through this junction in the centre of the lane, although taxis will often try to bully their way past but it’s worth holding your position. Good article and glad to see awareness of poor road design and dangerous blackspots highlighted. Please keep it up!

daved
25 January at 16:02

Check out the junction on Ranelagh Rd / Chelmsford CL (the lights just past the Spar heading South East). If you are going straight on your bike there is nowhere to go, as the lights go green for left first. Very dangerous spot.

Nick
5 February at 15:36

For a group that for the most part just break every rule as if all rules do not apply to cyclist it’s a bit rich to complain

Adam
19 January at 11:13

@Nick: It’s a bit rich to complain? Some members of all road using groups break the law. The difference is that the vulnerable road users are far more likely to suffer serious injury or death as a result of careless or negligent driving than drivers surrounded by a 2 tonne metal cage. Cyclists may complain about dangerous junctions for that reason and are certainly not any less valid because some cyclists may break the law. I see as many drivers breaking the law every day in the city centre on mobile phones, speeding, breaking lights, stopping in advanced stopping areas reserved for cyclists, turning at restricted junctions etc, as I see cyclists breaking lights. I’m a driver myself, covering anywhere up to 1000km per week but commute where possible into the cc by cycle as it’s faster and more relaxing (mostly) from Lucan.

Author:

Willy Simon: Willy Simon is Dublin Inquirer's planning and transport reporter. Want to share a comment or a tip with him? Send an email to him at wsimon@dubinq.com.

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