Irish Junction Design Practice: An Information Sheet

Galway Cycling Campaign -Feachtas
Rothaiochta na Gaillimhe

Junction Design Practice

An Information Sheet


What’s the issue?

Up to 75% of car/cycle collisions happen at
junctions.  In Ireland RT181 Geometric Design Guidelines:
Intersections at Grade
has been the standard design guidance for 17
years.  There is evidence suggesting that for priority junctions
RT181 is based on both a philosophy of design and the use of actual designs
that are associated with increased risk of collisions href="#_ftn1" name="_ftnref1"> [1] .  
In particular there is evidence suggesting that junctions constructed
to this standard are likely to be associated with increased risk of the
most common types of car/cycle collision
.  Concerns have arisen regarding both the visibility parameters
specified by RT181 and on the issue of the recommendations regarding kerb
radii.  Our model system is the T-junction, which accounts for the
majority (40%) of junction collisions.  However the issue may
apply to other priority intersection types and particularly to roundabouts.  The
national authorities were first made aware of this issue in 1998 but so
far have failed to provide any response.


Junction collisions

Cyclists who fail to yield, overtake on the
left or who use cycle lanes are at increased risk of collision. 
However, the majority of car/cycle collisions at junctions involve motorists
who fail to yield to lawfully proceeding cycle traffic.  These collisions
have been associated with excessive visibility envelopes and also with
large entry dimensions, (kerb radius + lane width).  This is not
just an issue for cyclists, research has identified length of stopping
sight distance on all arms as a multiplying factor for several types of
accidents.   1) On major left arm, increased accident risk for
right turn from the major with major left to right accidents 2) On major
right arm, increased risk for right turn from the minor with major right
to left accidents 3)  On the minor arm, increased risk for two types
of accidents: right turn from the minor with major left to right accidents
and for left turn from the minor with major right to left accidents
[1] .

Visibility parameters

Current UK guidance is to specify minimum
and maximum visibility parameters for priority intersections
.  In addition a separate visibility envelope is specified
for the immediate area of the junction.  Maximum (not to be exceeded)
visibility parameters are set out because long sight distances are associated
with excessive entry speeds and consequently with increased risk of collisions. 
Sight triangles exceeding 9 x 25m have been associated with increased
risk of car/cycle collision.  In the UK a "Desirable Minimum
Stopping Sight Distance" to the junction is provided to allow "drivers
time to slow down safely at the junction, or stop, if this is necessary". 
However, UK guidance expressly cautions that "increased visibility
shall not be provided to increase the capacities of various turning movements". 
Irish design guidance an apparently opposing philosophy is seen where
visibility is provided which permits a minor road driver "to turn
into or cross the major road without stopping".  Irish guidance
only allows for minimum sight distances and by implication encourages
the use of large visibility envelopes.  


Kerb/corner radii

The Galway Cycling Campaign is still seeking
satisfactory guidance on the general issue of kerb radii (curvature). 
There is guidance recommending radii of less than 6m on intersections
with cycle routes name="_ftnref4"> [4] .  Large entry half widths (lane +kerb radius >10m)
are reported as being associated with increased risk of car/cycle collision. 
It should be taken as a general principle that the indiscriminate use
of large kerb radii (>4m) in urban areas can only add to the general
hostility of the traffic environment for vulnerable road users, including
pedestrians.  Despite these concerns Galway corporation has chosen
to specify minimum radii of 6-10m regardless of the mix of traffic.

Defensive action for cyclists

The best defensive action for cyclists is
to adopt a prominent road position when passing side roads/roundabout
entries, always try to stay well clear of any yield/give way markings
.  Even if you wear high visibility clothing, assume
that you will not be seen unless you’re also positioned where other drivers
are looking.   However, be prudent, particularly on faster
roads and at night.  In congested conditions resist the temptation
to overtake on the left.  If you choose to use cycle paths/lanes
then be aware that they increase your risk of being hit by a car.

© Galway Cycling Campaign, February

The Galway Cycling Campaign can be contacted c/o the One
World Centre, The Halls, Quay St, Galway

[1] Accidents
at Three Arm Priority Junctions on Urban Single Carriageway Roads Summersgill
I., Kennedy J.V. and Baynes D. TRL Report 184, Transport Research Laboratory,

[2] Layout
and Design Factors Affecting Cycle Safety at T-Junctions, Henson R.
and Whelan N., Traffic Engineering and Control, October 1992

[3] TD
42/95, Design Manual for Roads and Bridges, Part 6, Geometric Design
of Major Minor Priority Junctions

[4] Cycle
Friendly Infrastructure, Guidelines for Planning and Design, Inst. of
Highways and Transportation, 1996

[5] Cyclecraft:
Skilled Cycling Techniques for Adults, John Franklin, UK Stationery
Office, 1998.



Bicycle Research Service: ForschungsDienst Fahrrad
FDF 218 – 28.05.1994

Original Text



Cycle tracks for the expansion of motorised traffic

Key points: At the start of the twentieth century the first cycle tracks were constructed for the comfort of cyclists. Since the end of the 1920s, cycle tracks have been required and promoted as a prerequisite for the expansion of motorised traffic. It was only in the 1930s that cyclists were forced to use cycle tracks, allegedly for their own safety.

Main content: Volker Briese has reviewed the industry newspaper “Radmarkt” (Bicycle Market), that has been published since 1886, and has compiled the history of cycle tracks in Germany up until 1940. In the nineteenth century people began to demand cycle tracks because the unpaved roads and roadways paved with large stones were clearly unsuitable for cycling.

The first special tracks that were constructed for cyclists did not follow standardised guidelines or state specifications.

In Bremen, Hamburg and Luneburg these tracks were initially sections of the roadway that had been improved for cyclists. In the environs of Hanover and Magdeburg the tracks were for the purpose of recreational cycling and for making excursions. These were constructed thanks to the self -help initiatives of cycling clubs or as municipally provided facilities.

Between 1926 and 1928 firm demands were made to remove cyclists from the roadways through the construction of cycle tracks. The first bible of cycle track construction, “The economic significance of cycle traffic and the construction of cycle tracks,” was published by Dr. Henneking in 1926. This brought about the development of the “Guidelines for creation of cycle tracks” by the Study Group for the Construction of Roads for Automobiles in 1927. In contrast to the example of England, from this time the construction of cycle tracks intensified in Germany, so that cyclists finally come “off the streets”

In the National Socialist era cycle-track construction became integrated into state and party propaganda as an important pre-requisite for the furtherance of motorised traffic. The construction of cycle tracks was supported by the National Socialist Motorist Corps (NSKK) and the German Automobile Club (DDAC).

In the “Road Traffic Regulation of the Reich” (RStVO) introduced on October 1, 1934, the rights of cyclists, equestrians and pedestrians to use streets were considerably restricted. “Where a road is assigned to a particular type of traffic (Footpaths, Cycle Track, Bridle paths), then this traffic is restricted to that part of the road assigned to it.”

Compulsory cycle track use was the main disciplinary instrument faced by cyclists, although in the 1930s, with a ratio of 20:3, they still had a clear majority over motorised traffic. We can conclude from the intense propaganda surrounding the compulsory use of cycle-tracks from 1934 onwards that the cyclists were not happy with the new narrow, inexpensive and poorly surfaced cycle tracks and preferred to use the main roadways instead. While the Reich’s Autobahns were being celebrated as “Adolf Hitler’s roads” the cycle tracks were being termed “the roads of the little man”. “Let us show the marvelling foreigners (during the forthcoming Olympic Games 1936) proof of an up-and-coming Germany; a Germany where the motorist has bicycle-free and safe access not only to the autobahns but to all roads”.

V. Briese: “Cycle track construction before the second world war – back to the future”", in: Radmarkt 5/1993. “Cycle tracks, Opium for the cyclist”, in Radfahren 1/1994. “Cycle tracks. Automobile associations determine bicycle policy”, in: Radfahren 2/1994.

Address: Prof. Dr. Volker Briese, Elser Kirchstr. 39, 33106 Paderborn; Tel. 0521-69450.

(Translated by Shane Foran Jan 2004 with some help from friends in Germany)

Until 1999, the ADFC’s Bicycle Research Service published reports on traffic issues and cycle politics on a fortnightly basis Many thanks to Tilman Bracher, Mattias Doffing and to Elmar Steinbach, who have published these reports on the Internet

The Bicycle Research Service was discontinued mid-1999 It was superseded by the Bicycle Research Reports which can be subscribed from the ECF ( European Cyclists’ Federation ECF – Rue de Londres 15 (b 3) – B-1050 Brussels – Phone: +32-2-512 98 27 – Fax: +32-2-511 52 24, e-mail:

About the Galway Cycling Campaign

Formed after a large public meeting in 1998, the Galway Cycling Campaign is in essence a group that exists to forward the interests of ordinary everyday adult bicycle users, we have the following core aims.

* Safer conditions for cycling
* Planning that gives equal priority to all road users
* Improvement of existing facilities
* Secure parking for bikes
* Recognition of the rights and responsibilities of all road users by all road users

When people think of cycling safety such things as cycle lanes and cycle tracks automatically spring to mind, the thinking behind such segregated facilities is often based on the premise that the roads cannot be made to work for all road users.

Unfortunately cycling safety is a complex issue governed by many different factors. Total segregation is often impossible to achieve and partial segregation can make matters worse, unless you also try to make the roads work for all road users, clearly a circular argument. For this reason many cycling activists now prefer to focus primarily on other issues such as speed limits and speeding by motorists, road designs (especially junction layouts,), traffic calming and so on. Increasingly there is the issue of whether motorists should have a more clearly defined duty of care towards more vulnerable road users.

Another issue which is becoming more prominent concerns the fact that it continues to be legally permissable to import, to purchase, and to use, cars that are designed to break Irish law. Since our formation the GCC has made it our business to gather as much information as possible on what currently constitutes best practice in transportation planning and in “Road Safety”. This information is then used to draw up position documents on a range of issues, which are then submitted to relevant local and national authorities. We are constantly monitoring the situation for cyclists in Galway City and reviewing the implications for cyclists of all new developments.

In order to do this work effectively we need to have “eyes and ears” everywhere. Thus, we are always on the look out for new members and volunteers.

If you are interested in getting involved then contact us via the GCC, c/o The Galway One World Centre, Bridge Mills, Galway.