Author: Joe Seymour, BEng MEngSc CEng FIEI FCIHT, director of transportation, AECOM Dublin, like many cities around the world, has seen a significant upsurge in cycling in recent years. This increase is a result of many things, in particular an increasing positive attitude towards cycling as a more environmentally responsible and healthy way to travel. The growth of cycling in Dublin has been particularly impressive, with volumes now over 100% higher than ten years ago and annual growth rates of 10% or more being experienced on many main routes into the city during the morning peak. This growth in commuter cycling is remarkable, as it excludes the contribution of hugely successful Dublin Bikes scheme, the influence of which is mainly within the city centre. The Bike to Work Scheme and, to a lesser extent, the introduction of cycle infrastructure may also be considered to be the other main contributors. In 2012, Dublin City Council completed as section of the Canal Way Cycle Route, along the Grand Canal, with funding from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. This scheme has shown how cyclists will be drawn to a high-quality facility if it is provided and that they feel much safer on these routes. Providing a much more extensive network of high-quality cycle facilities is seen as critical to facilitating the safe movement of the growing number of cyclists in the city. The Liffey Quays was identified as a key route in the Greater Dublin Area Cycle Network Plan that would link together the many radial routes in the city and provide a high-quality facility at the heart of the city centre. Dublin City Council commissioned AECOM/Roughan and O’Donovan Consulting Engineers to prepare a preliminary design for a route from the Phoenix Park to the 3 Arena (former Point Depot) along the Liffey Corridor. The overriding purpose of the project was to provide a facility that could be used by cyclists of all experience levels. The option development was to include the identification and design of all feasible options and to assess these through workshops with key stakeholders. The project is funded by the National Transport Authority.

Challenges of planning Liffey Corridor

The challenge with all urban schemes, but particularly those in historic city centres such as Dublin’s, is the limited space that is available to provide any new facilities. This means that if improvements are to be made for one mode, another mode will most likely be sacrificed. In the past, this has almost always to the benefit of the private car, with other modes often significantly disadvantaged. While this was acceptable in the past, it is now clearly understood that the provision of more and more space for the private cars in urban centres is counterproductive and other, more sustainable, modes must be promoted. National and local sustainable-transport policies now require that on urban streets, priority is given to pedestrians and cyclists (slow modes) and to public transport. The recently introduced Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets places great emphasise on making our streets safe, attractive and comfortable for all users. The Liffey Corridor is a particularly challenging street, as it has been a primary transport corridor for over a century. Only a decade ago, most of the national roads in the country passed along the quays on their way to the busiest port in Ireland, with heavy-goods vehicles (HGVs) passing right through the heart of the city. This resulted in very poor, often hazardous, conditions for vulnerable road users, particularly cyclists. The Dublin Port Tunnel removed the necessity for these HGVs to use the quays and the completion of the M50 motorway provided alternative routes around the city. As a result, valuable road space was redistributed to public transport and, to a lesser extent, cyclists over much of the quays. These bus lanes carry far more people than the equivalent traffic lane and are thus extremely important for the economic viability of Dublin’s city centre. In addition, these bus lanes are carrying up to 1,300 bicycles during the morning peak period (three hours, on both quays), which already makes this one of the busiest cycle corridors in the city.

Design development

The design development has included the conceptual design of some 13 different options, including using alternative parallel routes to the Liffey Corridor as well as numerous designs for the quays themselves. The design development has included extensive stakeholder engagement to date, which has helped refine the designs. Dublin City Council has now decided to involve the public in selecting the final design and is undertaking a ‘non-statutory’ public consultation on a number of design options that are being considered. This consultation, along with an assessment of traffic, engineering, environmental, and heritage impacts, will be used to select an emerging preferred scheme later this year. The consultation is looking for feedback on four design options that are outlined below, with further details and a questionnaire available on [caption id="attachment_19445" align="alignright" width="332"]Liffey Corridor Option One[/caption] Option 1: Two-Way North Quays with Limited Boardwalk
  • Two-way segregated cycle track, similar to Grand Canal Cycle Track, provided along the north quays on the river side of the street over the full length of the scheme;
  • At the pinch point on Arran and Ellis Quay, a new boardwalk will be provided for pedestrians;
  • The same number of traffic lanes will be available between Heuston Station and Capel Street.
      [caption id="attachment_19450" align="alignright" width="340"]Liffey Corridor Option Two[/caption] Option 2: Two-Way North Quays with Bus Re-Routing
  • Two-way segregated cycle track, similar to Grand Canal Cycle Track, provided along the north quays on the river side of the street over the full length of the scheme;
  • Buses diverted to a new high-quality public transport corridor on Benburb Street, between Heuston Station and Church Street;
  • General traffic will continue along the quays.
      [caption id="attachment_19454" align="alignright" width="424"]Liffey Corridor Option Three[/caption] Option 3: Two-Way North Quays with Bus Re-Routing & Croppy Acre Reconfigured
  • Two-way segregated cycle track, similar to Grand Canal Cycle Track, provided along the north quays on the river side of the street over the full length of the scheme;
  • Buses and traffic diverted to the north side of the Croppy Acre, with the Park extended to the river’s edge;
  • General traffic will return to the Quays at Liffey Street and the option will continue as per Option 2.
  [caption id="attachment_19462" align="alignright" width="296"]Liffey Corridor Option Four[/caption] Option 4: One-Way Building Side, South Quays
  • Conventional, but segregated, one-way cycle tracks provided on the building side of the street on both quays;
  • Both bus and general traffic would continue to use the quays in a similar fashion to the current arrangements.



This project has the potential to address the imbalances that exist along the Liffey’s quays, creating an amenity for the city and also providing a sustainable transport corridor. As the river is at the heart of Dublin city centre, both physically and metaphorically, any changes tend to generate significant interest from all corners, even outside those immediately impacted. For this reason, involving key stakeholders and the public from an early stage is seen as key to delivering a piece of infrastructure that will serve the residents and visitors to the city well for the decades to come. If you are interested in reviewing the design options in more detail, please visit and comment before 17 April 2015.