Thu, May 14, 2020
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Dublin City Council have invited submissions for the changes that should be made to the streetscape of the city to support social distancing and sustainable mobility as the COVID-19 restrictions ease and people return to work. I joined with Councillor Darcy Lonergan and Neasa Hourigan, T.D. to make the following submission.
If you have feedback or additional thoughts, please do get in touch or you can submit your requests to the Council here: https://www.dublincity.ie/trafficservice
As you’ll be aware, we very much welcome the ongoing programme of works to support social distancing through changes to the streetscapes of the city. We have added our name to various representations from residents of the North Inner City and surrounding neighbourhoods seeking improvements to their residential areas and urban villages.
This current crisis has brought into even sharper focus the importance of quality, spacious footpaths and cycle lanes to ensure that the city is safe and accessible. This will be more important than ever over the coming months. With the lower motor traffic capacity for the city as a result of the lighting changes we should set an ambition of having a maximum of a single lane of private motor traffic in each direction. For streets such as Summerhill, Gardiner, Manor, and Dorset Street this will leave a significant amount of additional space available for extended footpaths and safe cycle lanes.
We will be submitting each of the below listed areas through the online submissions system, as well, but we wanted to pull together the various requests we are making for the Dublin Central area and the surrounds, including the city centre, on behalf of, and informed by, our constituents.
As with all aspects of road safety in the city, enforcement is key. An Garda Síochána must play an important role to make sure the new measures and the existing provisions, including speed limits, are effective.
Resurfacing is also an issue which ought to be considered as part of this project. For areas such as Manor Street, safe cycling can only be achieved if the potholes are also dealt with. We support redirecting as much as possible of the roads maintenance budget reserved for cycling towards areas covered by the COVID19 measures programme of works and putting this to the City Council for approval if necessary.
As a final, more general point, both walking cycling provisions should be made to be comfortably used by children, older people and those less able-bodied. It is disappointing to note that cyclists will have to dismount on Nassau Street on the counterflow lane, as this can discriminate against less able-bodied cyclists. It is understandable that this may not always be possible given the emergency nature of the situation, but alterations to improve accessibility for all should be made as soon as possible.
As mentioned above, the requests we are making for the Dublin Central area and the surrounds, including the city centre are:
Liffey Street: This is due to be pedestrianised in the near future in any case by Dublin City Council and in the interim could easily be pedestrianised to allow social distancing, with the exception of a short window for deliveries. It would require a minimal level of infrastructural changes. Temporarily closing some of the access points to North Lotts to motor traffic could also help ease some of the pressure on this area.
Suffolk Street: A small change to the junction with Nassau Street could facilitate safe cycling between the two, but this would need to include caution signs for pedestrians and encourage slow crossing for those cycling. This would also allow people cycling to avoid the Luas tracks at College Green.
College Green: The plans to create a temporary pedestrian plaza here are warmly welcome. If provision for cycling isn’t possible here, then safe circuitous routes for cycling should be provided – possibly including a counterflow cycle lane along Pearse Street, and cycling permeability between Nassau Street and Suffolk Street.
Gardiner Street/Memorial Road: This is an essential commuter route which will need to be made safe for cycling, given the increase in numbers expected. The NTA and DCC can combine resources here to find temporary solutions for social distancing that may also address other long-standing issues. Reducing the space for motor traffic here would provide for a dedicated cycle lane and allow for increased footpath space, as well.
Dorset Street/Bolton Street: The footpaths along Dorset street vary significantly in width and are frequently subject to illegal parking. This could be remedied by narrowing the space available for motor traffic (which has the additional advantage of encouraging lower speeds), particularly where motor traffic currently shares space with the advisory cycle lane and providing a dedicated bike lane and a wider footpath along most of the road.
Capel Street (between Parnell Street and Ryders Row): The footpaths are very narrow here, and there is already spill over of customers from the pub here onto the street. This section of the road could be pedestrianised without causing much disruption to motor traffic which can be re-routed along Ryders Row and Halston Street.
Mary Street (between Wolfe Tone Street and Capel Street): By removing parking spaces here and limiting traffic to deliveries, more space could be provided for walking on this street which attracts a significant number of pedestrians who are residents and/or who are visiting local businesses.
Moore Street (between Parnell and Henry Street): Removing on-street vehicle parking here and limiting motor traffic to deliveries at specific hours would provide more space for walking and allow customers of busy nearby shops to more comfortably queue.
Liffey Bridges: Grattan Bridge has been significantly improved for cycling recently and should be a template for other bridges of the Liffey – reducing a lane of traffic to provide increased space for people to walk and cycle – including: Butt Bridge, Liam Mellow’s Bridge, James Joyce Bridge, O’Connell Bridge and the O’Donovan Rossa Bridge
Amiens Street/North Strand Road: Expanded footpaths and safe cycle space are badly needed here, and could be created by the removal of on-street parking. Enforcement of speed limits is also required here.
Summerhill: There is abundant space to provide for a segregated cycle lane along this road, which would provide an alternative safe access route into the city and allow people to avoid North Strand, which requires more substantial upgrading works.
Manor Street/Stoneybatter: Narrowing this road to a single lane in each direction could solve multiple problems here: discouraging parking in the bus lanes, encouraging lower and safer speeds for those driving, and providing extra room to walk or cycle, particularly in the village centre where the pavements are often used for queuing outside shops and the road space is particularly wide. Given the lower volume of traffic overall, this should not cause undue delays to buses.
North Brunswick Street: This is due to be partially pedestrianised under the Bus Connects plans and now would seem like an ideal opportunity to temporarily trial this with some small infrastructural changes.
North Circular Road/Phoenix Park surrounds: There is a lot of illegal parking on footpaths surrounding the entrances to the Phoenix Park, making the park inaccessible by foot for many. This is mainly an issue of enforcement, in co-operation with An Garda Síochána, but it may be possible to discourage this using bollards/planters or similar interventions. Speeding is also a big factor in this area; speed bumps or other traffic calming measures could facilitate safer walking and cycling even where there isn’t space for expanded footpaths or separated cycle lanes.
Arbour Hill: The footpaths are prohibitively narrow here. Work to remedy this has previously been proposed, but was considered too expensive at the time due to the presence of heritage cobblestones. This could be remedied with temporary bollards/planters for the time being.
Phibsboro Village: The whole area of Phibsboro village has suffered as a result of being an unfriendly environment for walking and cycling. The change in sequencing of the traffic lights at Doyle’s corner is welcome on this front, but much more needs to be done to ensure people can comfortably and safely access the businesses and services in the village by foot or by bike while socially distancing. Further changes can and should be made by narrowing the motor traffic to one lane along the North Circular and Phibsboro Road (at a minimum between Monck place and the Whitworth Road, especially near Cross Guns Bridge where the footpath narrows), allowing for wider space to walk and protected cycle lanes. This has the additional benefit of supporting businesses in the area who rely on local people being able to conveniently and safely access them, and allowing space for extra seating or queuing space where necessary outside.
Grangegorman: Residents here have raised concerns about an increasing volume of through traffic, often at excessive speed. Installing a pedestrian plaza using temporary bollards with cycling permeability by the clock tower building could be a cheap and effective way of trialling a form of traffic calming that is more achievable in the short-term than the existing road narrowing plans.
Parnell Street: This is a populous area for small businesses which could be supported by extending the footpaths along this section, both east and west of O’Connell Street.
Blessington Street: Blessington Basin is a precious resource and a valuable outdoor space for those living in the north inner city. Access to the basin could be made safer here by providing for expanded footpaths along Blessington Street. As the street is wide here, it would not necessarily have to compromise on street parking.
New Cabra Road: There is scope to somewhat narrow the road space where the bus stops are along this road, to provide space for social distancing, including by St Peter’s Church and just before the junction with Old Cabra Road.
East Road: Where possible, on-street parking should be removed here to facilitate wider footpaths, particularly around shops where queuing is taking place.
We trust that this is of assistance in identifying key areas for implementing the necessary COVID safety measures to facilitate the phased re-opening of Dublin City. Should you wish to discuss any of the above further, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time.
Councillor Janet Horner
Councillor Darcy Lonergan
Neasa Hourigan, T.D.