Proud to stand with over 50 people today in Roscrea at a vigil organised by the Tipperary Anti-Racism Network. Refugees welcome!

A group of people standing at the top of Castle Street in Roscrea holding placards saying “Refugees Welcome”, “Make Roscrea Great Without Hate”, “Céad Míle Fáilte Roimh Ár gCáirde” and others.

The first edition of this book by Jarrett Walker changed my life: it inspired me to quit my job as a software developer to go and work as a transport planner. I can’t wait to read the second edition, which you can preorder now.

Happy Christmas to everyone except the people at Scott Tallon Walker architects, who think an 82cm wide (less than half the recommended absolute minimum) footpath is acceptable on a (one way) shopping street in the new Nenagh public realm plan.

Plan drawing of a street in Nenagh: Silver Street, with an indicated 5220mm carriageway width, and footpaths 1330mm and 820mm wide.

We pay an enormous price for our automotive addiction—in congestion, time wasted, neighborhoods destroyed, emissions pumped out, pleasant streets subordinated to brutal expressways—but telling the addict that the drug isn’t actually pleasurable is a losing game. There is some slight hope in saying that it isn’t healthy, and that the replacement for the drug is about as good. But understanding this emotional infrastructure in favor of cars is vital to imagining their possible replacement.

How to Quit Cars | The New Yorker

New all-electric Local Link route 438 starting Monday 22 May, connecting villages north of Galway City to Galway, Headford and Tuam with 3 buses/day, 7 days/week. This service will bring a number of Galway villages who were not previously served by timetabled public transport on to the national network.

Map showing the estimated route of the new 438 bus service heading north from Galway City, turning left to go through Mionlach/Menlo, coming out and then turning left again to go along the coast of Lough Corrib to Eanach Dhúin, then East over the N84 and then North West to Headford and then East to Tuam.
Timetable for new bus service, with three departures leaving Galway at 0930, 1340 and 1725, and from Tuam at 0730, 1200 and 1545. Also a service from Headford leaving at 0700 and returning from Tuam at 1900.

Nice to see printed timetables in Limerick station for the expanded Scariff and Mitchelstown services introduced under the Connecting Ireland programme.

Cover of timetable for the 345 Limerick-Scariff bus route
Monday to Friday Limerick-Scariff bus timetable with 5 services a day
Cover of timetable for the 328 Limerick-Mitchelstown bus route
Monday to Sunday Limerick-Mitchelstown bus timetable with 6 services a day

The National Fares Strategy summary was released last week: in the future rail and bus fares outside Dublin will be calculated from a boarding charge and a charge based on km as the crow flies. I built a calculator where you can vary both charges and see the impact on intercity rail fares.

Three examples of “priority narrowing” or a “single lane working chicane” in a residential area in Hull, UK. The first two examples have associated uncontrolled pedestrian crossing points, the first in the middle (in front of a primary school) and the second in front of the chicane.

One way traffic filter in an English residential area
One-way chicane on a road beside some shops
One-way traffic chicane beside a T junction

Fascinating paper (PDF) by Shane Timmons and others at the ESRI looking at how active travel infrastructure changes behaviour, how to design infrastructure to encourage its use, and how to overcome local opposition to new infrastructure. It will be of interest to anyone planning, implementing or campaigning for better safer and healthier roads and streets.

ESRI Working Paper No. 745
February 2023
Using Behavioural Science to Design and Implement Active Travel Infrastructure: A
Narrative Review of Evidence
Shane Timmons, Ylva Andersson, Féidhlim McGowan, & Peter D. Lunn

Scrabble as Gaeilge, ar fáil ó Easons. Bhaineamar taitneamh as!

Bord Scrabble, le focail an-éasca air.

Maps showing (a) new/improved rural bus routes introduced in the last 12 months, and (b) planned new/improved routes planned for 2023. From a programme update by the National Transport Authority’s Connecting Ireland team which was released today.

A map of Ireland showing new/improved rural bus routes operated by Bus Éireann and TFI Local Link that were introduced since April 2022.
A map of Ireland showing the planned new rural bus routes in 2023.

New CSO stats today show a big increase in bus journeys outside Dublin over pre-pandemic levels. Graph shows bus passenger journeys outside Dublin for the first four weeks in January in 2023 vs 2019. According to the CSO by Week 8 this 2019-23 increase had reached 31%.

Graph showing number of passenger journeys by bus outside the zxDublin metro area for the first four weeks of 2019 and 2023. The graph shows a 20% increase (approximately) for each of the first four weeks in 2023 over 2019. Total number of journeys reached over 850,000 in week 4 2023.

In addition, bus journeys in Dublin have also increased (off a higher base) over 2019 levels. By Week 8 the 2019-23 increase had reached 10%. Great to see such an increase in numbers especially outside the capital.

Graph showing number of passenger journeys by bus inside the Dublin metro area for the first four weeks of 2019 and 2023. The graph shows an 8% increase (approximately) for each of the first four weeks in 2023 over 2019. Total number of journeys reached over 3 million in week 4 2023.

This is a lovely article by The Ranty Highwayman. Even though it’s ostensibly about designing roads and streets for efficient and safe movement (and it is very wise and insightful about this topic) I think it’s also about design in general: the importance of empathy with all those those who will encounter your designs; the need to consider a wide range of people and their needs, and the principle that while listening to people is important, this does not mean that consultation should override the application of good design principles that consider everyone’s needs. If that sounds difficult, that’s because it is!

When it comes to improving transport we sometimes focus too much on price, when space and capacity can have a much greater impact. Great article in the Irish Times with nuggets of wisdom from transport experts Dave O’Connor, Lorraine D’Arcy and Brian Caulfield.

Fascinating process going on with the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan in Kilkenny. Public consultation and focus group reports published this week. “A city that has shared space for all, is uncomfortable for cars…all-inclusive, busy with lots of people”

The focus group consisted a wide range of stakeholders from Kilkenny, who got input from experts such as Alison Harvey and Brian Caulfield. The public consultation focused on younger people, whose voices are often absent from transport discussions. Looking forward to following this process, it could be a template to follow across the country.

The cover of Kilkenny’s Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan report, with an illustration of a Kilkenny that makes it easier for everyone to get around

Great to see the draft CycleConnects national cycle network (1) already feeding in to local area plans: here’s the Roscrea Local Area Plan (2) published on Friday which has incorporated most of the suggested CycleConnects network into their transport plan (with a few omissions). A national plan is invaluable to show where local investment should go for cycling.

Cycle map of Roscrea from CycleConnects
Cycle map of Roscrea proposed in the Roscrea Local Area Plan

I’m going to try and make a submission asking for the omitted parts of CycleConnects to be reinstated, to ensure that all primary routes are segregated for cyclists and to incorporate the proposed Birr to Roscrea greenway.

Other measures needed include a reduction in traffic speed across the town, much better pedestrian facilities, the addressing of particular dangerous stretches including the bypass and more detailed measures around facilitating public transport including a top class bus facility to facilitate all the new routes going to Roscrea with Connecting Ireland. But it’s a good start!

Delighted to see the consultation for BusConnects Limerick, and the city is lucky to have experts from the firm founded by Jarrett Walker designing its network. Lots of good in it, but disappointed however to see half of the high frequency routes will not serve the city’s bus/rail station, so no direct transfer to the two universities or the two main industrial estates. Hopefully changes can me made. Public consultation:

Map of proposed bus network for Limerick City

2023 will be a truly groundbreaking year for rural public transport in Ireland. 67 new and upgraded routes being introduced this year, across every county in the country, as part of the Connecting Ireland programme. PDF with details

Map of ireland showing new rural bus routes

“The Welsh government said all future roads…must not increase carbon emissions, they must not increase the number of cars on the road, they must not lead to higher speeds and higher emissions, and they must not negatively impact the environment.” All major road building projects in Wales are scrapped – BBC News

The recommendations from “The Future of Road Investment in Wales: Advice from the Independent Panel appointed by the Welsh Government”:

We recommend that to be consistent with Welsh Government policy, road schemes should only be for these four purposes
Shifting trips to sustainable transport to reduce carbon emissions
Reducing casualties where they are high, through small-scale changes
Adapting roads to the impacts of climate change
Supporting prosperity by providing access to development sites that will achieve high sustainable transport mode share
We recommend that road schemes for these purposes should additionally meet four conditions
The scheme should minimise carbon emissions in construction
The scheme should not lead to higher vehicle speeds that increase emissions
The scheme should not increase road capacity for cars
The scheme should not adversely affect ecologically valuable sites

I am confident that if we applied the same (prudent, sensible and expert) analysis and recommendations from Wales to Ireland’s road building programme, all the roads projects in the National Development Plan as currently proposed would be cancelled.

21% of households in Tullamore don’t own a car. This month, Offaly Council gave planning permission for a private hospital on the outskirts of Tullamore. It will be 28 mins walk from the nearest bus stop. This is the road pedestrians and bus users will use to access the hospital.

A bleak road with hard shoulders and no footpath

New Connecting Ireland bus service connecting the Irish National Heritage Park, Wilton Castle and the villages of Glynn, Killurin, Ballyhogue, Bree and Tomnalosset to Enniscorthy and Wexford Town. Local Link 384 will run 5 times/day each way Mon-Sat and 4 on Sun, starting this Monday.

Timetable of new bus service between Enniscorthy and Wexford Town
Map showing the route of a new bus service between Enniscorthy and Wexford Town

I wrote this piece nearly four years ago, in memory of Natalia Jimenez Martinez who was killed on her bike, highlighting the need for an east-west spine for safe cycling in Limerick. Councillors will vote on the first half of this spine this month. If you live in Limerick please drop your local reps a line and ask them to vote yes. Having got so far it would be unconscionable for it to be blocked.

A map of Limerick City showing a blue line for a proposed cycle corridor between the Park Canal, past Arthurs Quay, Henry St and South Circular Road.

This is a nice detail from the proposed permanent cycle scheme from Clonskeagh through Ranelagh. Continuous footpath and cycle track across a side street with no dip for cars and a stop sign before the footpath. Cars have a 45° slope at the kerb between the footpath and cycle track and between the cycle track and the road (60mm height each). We should do this everywhere, much easier for wheelchair users, people pushing buggies, and kids on bikes in particular, as there’s no need to negotiate constant dips in the footpath and cycle track.

A drawing of a cycle track and footpath crossing a side street. Cars have to give way to people using the footpath and cycle track. There’s no dip down to facilitate cars crossing.

One of the great things about living in a rural market town is the opportunity to support local food producers. This omelette was cooked fresh at a stall in Nenagh by Corrigeen Farm with eggs from their hens fed cereals grown on their farm. It was incredibly tasty.

A tasty organic omelette with an apple ring on top

The exciting potential of car-free places. Merwede, a planned car free neighbourhood for 10,000 residents beside Utrecht railway station. 240 housing units/hectare. 30% social, 25% affordable, 45% private. The only parking will be in an underground garage at the edge: €200/month (discounted for residents with disabilities).

Drawing of low rise apartment blocks surrounded by a pedestrian area with greenery

Do you know anyone who would like to work in tech? The company I work for is recruiting a software tester. No experience necessarily needed but we’re looking for someone very methodical, who can catch niggly details and who has an interest in tech and apps. Fully remote with occasional meetings in Limerick. Feel free to send me a cv or contact me directly (info on my website) if you’d like to know more.

Love to see it! New Local Link 188 Athboy-Navan-Drogheda bus route launching this Monday as part of the Connecting Ireland programme. Eight services a day, including late evening buses from Navan and Drogheda, giving people access to night classes, cinema trips, visits to friends and family, and connections from Dublin and further afield.

Map of new bus service between Athboy and Drogheda
Timetable of new bus service between Athboy and Drogheda via Nenagh

The Connecting Ireland rural public transport programme is not hanging around in 2023. Tomorrow sees the launch of the new 897 Kilkenny-Carlow-Athy Local Link bus service connecting villages in counties Carlow, Kilkenny and Laois, and offering transfers to rail services in Athy and Kilkenny.

Timetable of new bus service running from Kilkenny to Athy four times a day
Timetable of new bus service running from Athy to Kilkenny four times a day
Map of new bus service from Athy to Kilkenny

Two years ago a big increase in bus services serving the Limerick communities of Southill and Moyross was announced. Yesterday Bus Éireann noted that passenger numbers are up 40-60% on this route compared to 2019. Great to see.

Population distribution in Ireland, Census 2016 Dublin City and suburbs: 25% Regional cities 9% Towns and villages: 36% Outside cities, towns and villages: 30%.

Pie chart showing population distribution in Ireland, Census 2016
Dublin City and suburbs: 25%
Regional cities 9%
Towns and villages: 36%
Outside cities, towns and villages: 30%.

Regional cities are Cork, Limerick, Galway, Waterford. Towns and villages (“census town”) defined by: “being a minimum of 50 occupied dwellings, with a maximum distance between any dwelling…of 100 metres, and where there was evidence of an urban centre (shop, school etc)”

The claim that Park and Ride schemes reduce transport emissions is not well-supported by the evidence. In a study of 8 park and ride schemes in the UK, Parkhurst (2000) found that their main effect was to redistribute, not reduce, private car traffic.

Overall, traffic (and kms driven) increased as a result of each P&R scheme, with any reduction in the city centre offset by an increase in traffic in the outskirts. The study further noted that any decrease in traffic in the centre would be offset by induced demand and economic growth if traffic restrictions were not implemented.

Interesting that the SI enabling the trial of zebra crossings without Belisha beacons says that a sign *may* be used. My interpretation of the instrument is that if the zebra lines on the road exist |=| then it is a valid zebra crossing in law, even without Belishas or a sign.

The regulations now read: “A driver of a vehicle approaching a zebra pedestrian crossing where traffic sign number RPC 001 (zebra pedestrian crossing) or traffic sign number RPC 001A (zebra pedestrian crossing without belisha beacons) is provided shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian who has commenced crossing the road at the crossing.“ Where RPC 001A *shall* include lines on the road and *may* include a sign, detailed in the first link above.

Zebra crossing Type A sign

A number of North Cork villages have no daily public transport service – that’s going to change from this Monday. New Local Link rural bus service 522 for North Cork, connecting Newtownshandrum, Dromina, Freemount, Liscarroll and Churchtown with Charleville, Buttevant and Mallow train station with connections to rail services. 4 services/day Mon-Sat, and 3 on Sun.

Map of new bus service from Charleville to Mallow
Timetable of bus from Charleville to Mallow

New enhanced service on Local Link Kerry route 283, going from 12 services/week to 24/week, serving Currow – Currans – Kerry Airport – Farranfore – Firies – Ballyfinnane – Farmers Bridge and Tralee, starting this Monday. Timetable here.

A third new Connecting Ireland Local Link rural bus route announced today. The M3 will connect Monaghan’s North Eastern hinterland with Monaghan Town 5 services/day Mon-Sat and 4 on Sun. And the other MN services M1 and M2 will also switch to 7 day running. Great to see!

Map of bus route from Mullan to Monaghan Town
Monday-Saturday timetable for Mullan-Monaghan Town service
Sunday timetable for Mullan-Monaghan Town bus service

Another hour, another Connecting Ireland announcement! New Local Link bus service for Co. Cork, connecting Mallow train station to Mitchelstown via Doneraile and Kildorrery. 4 services/day Mon-Sat, 3 on Sun. Starts on Monday.

Map of bus route from Mitchelstown to Mallow
Timetable of new bus from Mitchelstown to Mallow

Another week, another new Connecting Ireland rural bus route. The 546 Local Link will connect Castlerea to Ballinasloe and return, via Glenamaddy, Mountbellew and Ahascragh, w/ connections to Westport, Sligo, Galway, Dublin and Athlone. 3 buses/day Mon-Sun. Starting next Monday. Timetables up soon on the Local Link Galway website.

Map of a bus route from Castlerea Co. Roscommon to Ballinasloe Co. Galway
Timetable of new Castlerea to Ballinasloe bus service

I have been fooling around a bit on Mastodon and am experimenting with mirroring my microblog on there, manually for now as I can’t get the alt text on images to repost.

Could this be the most scenic bus route in Ireland? New Local Link service connecting Wicklow and Kildare announced today under the Connecting Ireland programme: 4 services/day, 7 days a week, linking Arklow, Wicklow and Sallins train stations, via Glendalough and Blessington.

Timetable of services from Arklow to Sallins
Timetable of buses from Sallins to Arklow
Map showing route of bus from Arklow to Sallins via Wicklow, Rathnew, Blessington and Naas

Aldi have some editions of Dobble on special offer today for a tenner. It’s a great matching game that gives younger kids a chance to beat their older siblings. There is some interesting maths behind the game mechanics too. Just don’t get to cross when the kids start to routinely beat you.

Box of the card game Dobble

The morning train from Nenagh arrives in Birdhill this morning on its way to Limerick. This line reopened yesterday after almost 2 months closure as the final replacement of old jointed track with Continuous Welded Rail was completed.

A train arriving at a rural station

Rural public transport is getting better thanks to the Connecting Ireland programme. This is a map of new+improved routes introduced Apr-Oct 2022. More services added this month and even more to come before the end of the year.

Map of new and improved bus routes

If there are changes proposed to roads near you, and you think the changes could be better, it’s always worth making a submission. Sometimes it feels like you’re shouting in the wind, but when your suggestions are taken on board it can be very satisfying.

Email I sent to the roads department of Clare County Council:

Subject: Proposed Section 38 traffic calming measures at Tulla

The notice on the website didn't say that submissions were welcome on this proposed scheme in Tulla, I hope it's ok to offer the following observations:
I'd like to welcome the proposed crossings and widened paths - it's great to see efforts to improve the walking environment around the school.
I have one suggestion and that is that both crossings should be raised to slow down cars on this stretch of road.
Email from Clare County Council roads department:

Dear Mr. Bibby,
Thank you for taking the time to make an observation in respect of the proposed traffic calming measures.
We confirm that, on foot of submissions received and as part of the Detailed Design process, the pedestrian crossings will be raised to further assist with traffic calming.
If you have any further queries on this project, please feel free to contact the Killaloe MD office at:
Tel.: 061 640815

Annual cost of a residents on street parking permit in Irish cities:
Dublin: €50
Cork: €30
Limerick: €6.35
Galway: €30
Waterford: €15

The Minister for Transport signed a Statutory Instrument last month bringing the rest of the country into the laws governing public transport fares in Dublin, which includes the potential to bring non-PSO routes under the NTA’s fare scheme.

A bit of a nerdy post this, but I attempted to piece together what Ireland’s 2025 sectoral emissions targets will be and what the total sectoral emissions ceilings for the first and second carbon budget periods will be. Link.

The amount Irish households owe on their car finance increased significantly in the 2010s. By Feb 2020 households owed €3.98 billion, a 156% increase in 5 years. Data from the Central bank, excludes credit unions.

Map showing circulation plan with a city divided into 5 coloured sections with a section in purple in the middle

Circulation plan for Leuven, Belgium (pop. ~100k). Cars can’t drive directly between the coloured zones. Purple zones are car free, with some exceptions for deliveries, residents and people with disabilities. One year after introduction, cycling was up 32%.

There is an electoral division in the centre of Limerick City with the fifth highest percentage population decline in the country 2016-2022 at just under 20%.

A DIY vehicle speed detector would be really useful for communities looking to get their streets calmed but good Doppler sensors seem really expensive. This seems like the best bet but it’s over €200. There’s also the OpenCV route but that looks like a lot of faff.

In places where not many people cycle, those who cycle tend to be overwhelmingly male (and trips are mostly for work). Where lots of people cycle, it’s often more females than males cycling (and an equal split between work and non-work trips). Interesting paper in the journal Transport Reviews.

Today’s the last day for submissions on the revised draft of the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy. Here’s mine.

This is a lovely workbook (PDF) with creative ideas to help people walk better, and overcome some of the barriers to walking: I also think that it is a useful resource for those tasked with designing walkable environments.

Very interesting paper from researchers from UCC about “retail sprawl” in Irish cities and the effect of out of town shopping centres on greenhouse gas emissions. Notable that Dublin/Cork/Limerick have far bigger problems than Galway/Waterford.

Cycled to the 5pm bus to Nenagh to go and see An Cailín Ciúin in the cinema, and enough time for a wander before the 9pm bus home.

A swathe of positive outcomes in health, economics, equality and the environment are possible if we:

1. Build medium density housing all around the country where you don’t need a car for most daily tasks

2. Reallocate space on our roads and streets away from the private car.

Before politics I was a mobile app developer for many years. I have lots of nitpicky issues with the COVID Tracker app, but privacy isn’t one of them. I’ve downloaded it and I urge you to ask others to do the same.