Wed, Jul 8, 2020
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The streets of our city and our communities are seeing some significant changes at the moment: footpaths are being extended to make social distancing easier, cycle lanes are being created, and existing ones protected.
In the North Inner City, after many requests from residents, a cycle lane on Manor Street in Stoneybatter has been partially protected, and a trial has begun of a “cycle-gate” over in Grangegorman. These changes are part of Dublin City Council’s COVID mobility programme. The main aim of this programme is to keep Dublin moving, while protecting health and life.
The WHO have advised people to walk and cycle wherever possible while we are still in the midst of this pandemic. But we cannot ask this of people if we do not make it safe and accessible for them to do so. We need streets that are safe and comfortable for everyone – not just the brave or the foolhardy, or those using cars.
The Dublin City Council COVID mobility interventions are temporary and emergency measures – Councillors have not voted on them, and cannot vote against them. If there are any proposals to make them permanent in the future, then they will be subject to debate and consultation.
Currently, Councillors can feed into the Dublin City Council’s transport team and ask for measures that will help keep people safe on the streets over this time. I have made several requests to improve cycling and walking safety across the city.
I have continuously requested more and better information about what we can expect and for this to be shared as widely as possible with residents and businesses, and been frustrated at points when this hasn’t been delivered. Notice was given to Councillors about the Grangegorman trial, for example, but not about the protection of the Manor Street cycle lane.
I also have concerns about providing for safe loading and unloading facilities as part of these measures. Unfortunately, loading bays have been abused by illegal parking for a long time, and loading carried out in ways which made the streets very unsafe for many. This needs to change, and we need to look into facilitating safe loading practices.
Community and business benefits
The changes may feel stark at the moment when only a few areas seem to have been singled out initially, and there are legitimate concerns about how this may impact on businesses and communities. But the evidence shows that improving cycling and walking safety in our communities is likely to be of significant benefit. Most importantly, these measures will save lives and improve public health; but we can also expect that they will benefit businesses, reduce pollution and improve the public realm.
Dublin was the sixth most congested city in Europe before the pandemic, with many premature deaths due to air pollution and traffic accidents. The need to improve road safety was urgent even before this pandemic. If we don’t provide safe alternatives now to driving and public transport, those who have access to a car and can afford to will get back in their cars - but the stark reality is that this will result in the city grinding to a halt, the roads being even more dangerous, and businesses and all of our health will suffer enormously.
This programme of works is about much more than a few bollards: ultimately it can lead us to safer streets, better business and happier communities. For this to happen we need more investment in other public realm improvements, support for business through more outdoor seating, enforcement for those who continue to flout the law in speeding and illegal parking, lower speed limits and ensuring that we are all working respectfully together to support each other, our businesses and our communities to face the enormity of the crisis ahead.
I will keep pushing for these and for better communities for all. You can add your thoughts here:
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