Blackrock Park and Rock Road – two routes running parallel to each other from Booterstown to Blackrock in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Dublin. The Blackrock Park route is a joy to cycle and walk: safe for all and beautifully landscaped. The Rock Road route is a time limited (Monday to Saturday 7AM to 7PM) painted cycle lane shared with buses, taxis and undertaking cars speeding to the next set of traffic lights. Yet, cycle counters show that the Rock Road route carries more cyclists than the Blackrock Park route.
Looking at the data from March 2021 to March 2022 inclusive (the 13 months since the upgrade to Blackrock Park was completed), the cycle counters show that the Rock Road route is used more than the Blackrock Park route by a ratio of greater than 2:1 (491K Vs. 231K).
The Rock Road route is busier on weekdays than weekends while the opposite is true for Blackrock Park. Therein lies a probable explanation for the Rock Road’s relative popularity – it is preferred by commuting cyclists as it’s faster to get to/from Blackrock by staying on the road, even with a stop at the traffic lights for Blackrock Clinic.
Cyclists must dismount to negotiate the infamous ‘half-duplex’ narrow passage that connects the southern end of Blackrock Park to Bath Place leading to the DART station, Blackrock village and the CMR (Coastal Mobility Route) to Sandycove (google maps). This can take time – particularly at peak hours.
A solution for the Bath Place bottleneck does not spring easily to mind, but hopefully one can be found to enable free flow transition between Blackrock Park and the CMR in particular. For cyclists heading towards Deansgrange, it probably makes sense to stay on the Rock Road/Blackrock bypass route.
It is also interesting that the Blackrock Park route is much more popular with pedestrians than cyclists (475K Vs. 231K) for the 13 months. It’s likely that the vast majority of cyclists would trigger the cycle counter, but possible a significant percent of pedestrians would not trigger the pedestrian counter – so the difference could be understated. This is because pedestrians mostly congregate around the Blackrock village end of the park, away from the counter.
Just how busy did these counters get in the last 13 months? Table below shows the top 5 busiest days.
A combination of COVID-19 lockdown, a spell of very good weather, the novelty of the (then) newly upgraded park and a public holiday contributed to St. Patrick’s Day 2021 yielding the highest counts in Blackrock Park.
Cycle Counts in the Wider Context
When Blackrock Park and Rock Road Cycle Counts are combined, they show a median of 1.7K cyclists on weekdays are passing the Rock Road/Booterstown DART station junction. This number amounts to approx. 60% the volume of weekday cyclists that are counted on Richmond St., Dublin 2 (linking city centre to Rathmines) which is currently the street with the highest cycle counts based on the data that is available on data.gov.ie (from Dublin City Council and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown).