Bewley’s on Grafton Street to close (again)

The iconic Bewley’s is to close again (it’s had a rocky 21st century so far). The current owners point at the high rent among other reasons.

In a note to staff, the cafe’s managing director Cól Campbell, a son of Paddy Campbell, outlined the impact of the lockdown on the business and highlighted the added costs of social distancing measures, once cafes and restaurants are allowed to reopen on June 29th.

He also cited its €1.5 million annual rent as a reason behind the decision, saying that a request for a rent reduction had not been granted. The building is leased from RGRE Grafton Limited, which is controlled by property developer Johnny Ronan. The rent amounts to about 30 per cent of the cafe’s sales.

Seems to me that other than owning a bank, owning property is the second most protected thing in capitalism in Ireland at least.

[Image: Deserted streets at the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin]

Parking Without Thought

@ellenfromnowon has shared an excellent short video that shows clearly the difficulties faced by a wheelchair user when confronted with inconsiderate footpath parking. 

Next time you park your car, think about the impact on others. A moments’ thought could save someone else not just some inconvenience, but from forcing them into danger: like having to take to the roadway to go around a car blocking the footpath.

Design beats enforcement

Design, design, design:

Much as cyclists might like to see bad drivers punished for their distracted driving and their bike-harassing crimes, enforcement isn’t the most effective way to make the streets safer. The best way to stop “accidents” is to design better roads.

Slower cars means safer roads, and while adding speed cameras and reducing speed limits can help, nothing beats a design that stops drivers from speeding in the first place. Also, slower cars mean less injury in the case of a collision, but again, avoiding the collision to begin with is even better.

Most roads are designed for ‘smooth’ traffic flow, which means wide lanes, sweeping corners, and high speeds. And by speed, I mean inappropriate speed, not over the limit speed (although that happens a lot too). What’s an innapropriate speed? It’s a speed at which you are unable to stop in the distance you can see to be clear. Simple enough, rarely observed, largely due to high speed design and lack of emphasis on the fact in road ‘safety’ campaigns.

From Bad to Worse in Templeogue Village

Cycling through Templeogue village recently, I couldn’t help but notice (because I was suddenly *very* close to the passing cars and SUV’s on the morning commute) that the old, poorly maintained, semi-segregated cycle lanes had been removed and replaced with some advisory lanes.

Oh joy.

Now, not only are advisory lanes not advised (ho ho), they are especially bad here as the road is not wide enough to cater for two advisory lanes without a serious reduction in the number of vehicles passing through (and seeing as this is the continuation of the N81 route in from the M50 and Tallaght, that’s definitely not the case). The speed limit is the standard 50km/h. In the village there is nose-in parking which means people reversing out into the cycle lane. There are also multiple entrances to small car parks and other businesses which involve vehicles cutting across and pullout out on to the cycling areas.  I can’t understand who thought this was in any way a solution to safe cycling through the village.

Let’s take a look at the ‘advisory’ lanes in the village now, the narrowness of the carriageway and the uselessness of a painted line to provide safety is perfectly illustrated by this truck attempting to pass through the village:

Templeogue Village. I feel so safe!
New ‘advisory’ lanes in Templeogue Village

It can’t even fit in the space allocated to it without intruding on the cycling lane, no matter what the driver does. And to add insult to injury, the remaining semi-segregated lane is impossible to access from the new approach angle – there’s no drop kerb. You can see it in the above image as the red strip to the left of the truck. You’d run the risk of skidding along the kerb or worse if you attempted to access the lane. It’s now perfectly useless.

For reference, you can see the old semi-segregated cycle lanes on Google Maps, at about the same place as the photo above:


Google Street View of Templeogue village, Aug 2014 imagery
Google Street View, August 2014 imagery

Obviously, these were very poorly maintained. And the colouration is of no use to a blind or sight impaired walker (which is why I term this ‘semi-segregated’ rather than segregated – it’s effectively mixed with pedestrians). But from a cycling safety point of view, they were far more welcome than the current situation.

There’s no way you can point to these painted lines and say that’s safe, that’s going to enable more people to cycle, that’s there for kids to cycle to school on. It’s a mess that mixes cyclists with drivers on a very busy road that only serves to discourage anyone other than the experienced from cycling here.

Edinburgh school parking ban encourages walking – BBC News

Good news from Edinburgh:

A pilot scheme to ban parking outside primary schools in Edinburgh has led to an increase in the number of pupils walking to school.
Evaluation of the School Streets scheme also showed lower vehicle speeds on surrounding roads and a reduction in the number of cars around schools.
A report to the city council’s transport and environment committee recommended making the pilot permanent.
The Living Streets Scotland charity wants it rolled out nationwide.

Source: Edinburgh school parking ban encourages walking – BBC News

Desire Lines

Good to see South Dublin CoCo filling in some desire lines in this park near the Luas stop on the Cookstown Way, Tallaght.

There’s a school of thought that says you should put in the minimal amount of paving and then wait to see where people walk first to save on un-wanted paving.

The Car is the Star

M50 on a winters eve

In the 14 years following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, there were eight crashes on American soil of passenger planes operated by regional, national, or international carriers. The death toll in those crashes totaled 442. That averages out to fewer than three fatalities a month.

The death toll on America’s streets and highways during that same period since 9/11 was more than 400,000 men, women, and children. The traffic death toll in 2015 exceeded 3,000 a month. When it comes to the number of people who die in car wrecks, America experiences the equivalent of four airliner crashes every week.

A normal day on the road, then, is a “quiet catastrophe,” as Ken Kolosh, the statistics chief for the National Safety Council, calls it. He ought to know: He makes his living crafting the annual statistical compendium of every unintentional injury and death in the country.

Car crashes are the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 1 and 39. They rank in the top five killers for Americans 65 and under (behind cancer, heart disease, accidental poisoning, and suicide). And the direct economic costs alone—the medical bills and emergency-response costs reflected in taxes and insurance payments—represent a tax of $784 on every man, woman, and child living in the U.S.

The numbers are so huge they are not easily grasped, and so are perhaps best understood by a simple comparison: If U.S. roads were a war zone, they would be the most dangerous battlefield the American military has ever encountered. Seriously: Annual U.S. highway fatalities outnumber the yearly war dead during each Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, the War of 1812, and the American Revolution. When all of the injuries from car wrecks are also taken into account, one year of American driving is more dangerous than all those wars put together.

The car is the star.

Via: The Absurd Primacy of the Automobile in American Life – The Atlantic

Biking triggers social awareness

It all started innocently enough.  I was 12 years old, living on a farm, and my dad brought home a girl’s bike. I taught myself to ride it.  By age 14, I hit the road.  I must have biked up and down every rural road in Essex County, Ontario where I grew up.  I loved the freedom that it afforded me…a chance to get away from my parents, explore and do my own thing.  Little did I know then that I was beginning a lifelong dependency on the freedom and exhilaration that biking brought to me.

Nine years ago, my husband and I decided to move to Guelph, Ontario.  I was determined to live within walking/biking distance from work.  This dream led us to live near to downtown.  Because of this lifestyle choice, I have been able to comfortably manage, most of the time, without using the car. Since taking up biking as my main mode of transportation, I have begun to look at Guelph and other cities through a different lens. I don’t think you can ride a bike in any city without getting interested in social justice issues. You begin to wonder why getting around any city is so much easier by car than by any other method of transportation.  In the words of  Enrique Penalosa, a renowned vocal advocate of equitable use of public spaces: “A person on a $30 bike is just as important as a person in a $30,000 car.” Well said.  All people are entitled to equal treatment under the law.  So where did we get this notion that public roads should be only for one type of user…the motorist?

People who can’t afford cars or don’t want to use them are also deserving citizens.  For example, children should have priority in a city too. They should be able to walk and bike to school and around their neighbourhoodsin safety.  Their parents shouldn’t have to fear that their child might get hit by a car while engaging in this normal, healthy, social activity. Teenagers, as well, should be able to get to work or socialize independently of their parents.  They shouldn’t have to rely on mom or dad simply because it is too unsafe to reach their destination except by car or too time consuming to reach it by public transit.

I think that once you step outside a private vehicle, you see more of your town, and in a different way. You can experience it in a way that is impossible when cooped up in a car. If you cycle or walk, you see smaller things that get missed when driving. And if you travel by public transport, you get to see and share space with people from all walks of life.

Cars create social isolation, cycling and walking create social awareness.

Source: Biking, a gateway drug to social awareness — Strong Towns

Transport choice


So ‘mass cycling’ simply means that everyone has the option to cycle, for any given trip, in much the same way that walking, driving and public transport are already available. It is about having transport choice; a better range of transport options to pick from.

I think this is often lost in debates about cycling, particularly in the way we refer to ‘cyclists’ and ‘motorists’ almost as distinct categories, and present binary oppositions like ‘bikes vs cars’. This is something that both cycling campaigners do, and opponents of designing for cycling, who are all too happy to point that people can’t cycle for every single trip, or that cycling isn’t a universal solution. It is deeply unhelpful – it creates the impression that to be ‘a cyclist’ you must cease to be ‘a motorist’, and vice versa.

Building cycling infrastructure isn’t about forcing everyone to be ‘a cyclist’, but about creating another transport option for people to get around, alongside walking, driving and public transport. Doing so reduces pressure on the road network for people who are driving; the same people who might be cycling for a different trip.