Walking and the pedestrian environment
January 5, 2005
Luas and Guinness (Dublin)

Enjoying the newest and oldest of Dublin: light rail and a frothy pint.

Dublin HOV arterial streetDublin traffic is pretty awful. Luckily, taxis share HOV lanes with buses, making trips not so bad along main routes. Bike lanes are striped red, and jump onto the sidewalk to avoid turn lanes while giving the bicyclist the option to continue straight.

Dublin bent bikeBent bike. I saw a number of these. Probably drunken partiers stomped on it and the owner is too heart-broken to get it fixed yet.

O'Connell StreetO'Connell Street over the River Liffey. This count-down signal works the right way. It counts down until the light turns green. Seattle's one test signal counts down until the light turns red, which is useful but really is redundant with the blinking red "Don't Walk" phase of a ped head. Counting down to green tells pedestrians "Look, it's only 15 seconds until a green. Wouldn't you rather wait and be safe?"

Luas Green Line ridersA flood of pedestrians as the new Luas Green Line reaches its last stop at St. Stephen's Green. I think the railing was built not only to add a sense of place for the station, but also to discourage folks from jumping on without paying? I'm really not sure. The main effect is to create a herd atmosphere as the cattle head towards their pens aka cubicle to await butchering.

Luas front seatView from the front seat as we reach a stretch of dedicated right of way and speed up. Probably two thirds or three quarters of the Green Line is in dedicated right of way or grade-separated. The Red Line operates mostly in the streets, and apparently they've had a big problem with car-train accidents. There's near universal agreement that the real problem is fundamentally bad driving by Dubliners, though. If you've learned not to bother stopping for red lights, you're certainly not prepared to live long with a light rail line. In addition to educational campaigns, the government has implemented stricter penalties for driving infractions. Actually, even illegal parking counts against your driving record.

No pedestrian exitI got off of the Luas and started my walk to work. I knew the right direction, but wasn't sure about which street was best. A few folks strode off confidently from the train so I decided to follow them. In fact, they led me to a development housing wireless companies, not my destination. I could see my destination, but the development dead ended at a construction site and large chasm. There was no way for me to go but back. I didn't feel like walking back 10 minutes, so I thought perhaps the parking garages below the buildings - which exited to street level down the grade - perhaps would have a pedestrian exit at least. I finally found it, but as you can see from this exterior shot, it was an emergency exit and very secure. From there it was a 15 minute back track and I was late for work. So much for way finding!

Dublin round-aboutTraffic circle in the South County business park near Leapordstown.

Dublin business parkDublin South CountySouth County was nicely developed with a variety of building designs, helping to mitigate the business parkiness of it.

Luas maintenanceMaintenance yard for Luas at Sandyford.

Sandyford stationSandyford station for Luas. The Luas stops were similar to very nice bus stops, really. Fare is done on the honor system, and supposedly they do sweeps occasionally with big fines if you're not carrying a ticket.

fare machinesThe
touch-screen fare machines were simple for me to use. I had to help an elderly local woman who was having trouble getting her money out before the machine timed out and made her start over, though.

DublinPretty train bridge.

light rail crossingZ-crossing barrier for pedestrians faces them towards trains before they cross the track. Cars are stopped at lights, but no barriers in order to allow longer crossing times and not wait for the barrier to rise. Traffic control measures near the station stop turns, while parking is a bit chaotic.

Green Line trackA raised portion of the Green Line mid-route.

Christmas in DublinIn early November, Grafton Street is already decked out for the holidays. From chatting with a variety of people, it seemed that most folks were annoyed that holiday decorations were up so early. But it certainly seemed to work as a marketing tool. It was impossible to browse stores at mid-day on a weekday because they were so packed.

Bewley's Tea and CoffeeGrafton Bewley's. This caf´┐Ż chain is shuttering its doors after more than a century (though several owners). At one point they had dreams of becoming the Irish Starbucks and spreading around the world. Honestly, their stores were comfortable and a great place to stop for breakfast on a trip, but there wasn't anything particularly wonderful about their coffees or teas. Atmosphere can carry a local shop, but a chain needs a product backbone to stand on.

Trinity graduationGraduation at Trinity College

locked bicycle rackMy favorite bicycle rack is back looking healthy and full of bikes! In a journal from a past trip I pointed out all of the wheels without bikes and bikes without wheels locked up inside. Now they've got a code-keyed lock on the door.

Dublin viking benchNice bench design!

Dublin bridge archNice bridge design! Actually, there are many attractive bridges - some pedestrian only - over the Liffey.

bike queueBike queuing area doubles as a crosswalk buffer. Those cars sitting in the bike area would block the crosswalk entirely in Seattle.

Guinness advertisingA Guinness billboard looks a bit out of place over a pile of rubbish from some ages old construction project. Still, any Guinness ad is thought provoking to anyone over minimum drinking age in Ireland.

Guinness truckA passing Guinness truck helped shepherd the way to the Guinness factory.

Guinness factoryThe factory has a great self-guided tour. And at the end you enjoy the freshest, smoothest pint you ever had while taking in a 360 degree view of Dublin from their observation tower / lounge bar.

Posted by Rob Ketcherside at January 5, 2005 9:54 AM
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