Wed, Dec 9, 2020
Read in 3 minutes
This summer a trial began of a “filtered permeability” system on Grangegorman. This means that bollards and plant boxes were installed to prevent through traffic for people driving cars and leaving the road open for people to walk, cycle and scoot on a traffic-calmed street.
In January, the Central Area Committee will decide whether to extend this trial or not. I am in favour of keeping this trial and will be asking my fellow Councillors to support it likewise. I know that so many people in the area have enjoyed the fantastic benefits of this system but I also know that some are still concerned or critical of how it works. Since the outset of the trial I have been keen to listen to the voices of concern and criticism and to try to find constructive resolutions for safer and traffic-calmed streets that work as best as possible for as many people as possible.
Before the installation of the bollards, data shows that 15% of cars were going over 60km/h along Grangegorman despite it being a residential street in the proximity of multiple schools. Unfortunately, the installation of ramps and the legal speed limit of 30km/h set on the road did not adequately address the dangerous speeding issue and the street was too dangerous for people to safely cycle – most especially children. The new trial arrangement has allowed hundreds more children to safely cycle to their schools and once TU Dublin campus is open will similarly provide for thousands of students.
A question that has arisen recently is whether it would not have been possible to improve safety for people cycling without preventing through car traffic. However, as the road narrows so much around the junction of Kirwan Street, it is impossible to provide dedicated bike lanes for the entire road and the only option is for bikes and cars to share – with the safest way of doing so being with slower, calmed car traffic.
We are more concerned now than ever before about public health. One of the biggest threats to our public health in Dublin is the incredibly high rate of car dependency and car usage – and the associated inactivity and air pollution. Air pollution in Ireland causes approximately 1,500 premature deaths a year and exacerbating respiratory illnesses for so many. Above all, allowing children to safely walk or cycle to school and allowing adults to safely commute by walking or cycling benefits public health and supports better concentration and mental health at school and work.
Access for All
The arrangement of the bollards on Grangegorman has ensured that the street, the bring centre and the TUD campus are still accessible by car for anyone who needs to drive. Although this has meant less convenience for driving, the overall result is that, by preventing through traffic the street is left much safer for those who use other means of travelling. Emergency services are also satisfied that they have sufficient access with this arrangement.
Improving other streets and next steps
One of the biggest concerns that we have heard about the trial is that it will divert traffic elsewhere. This is understandably worrying for residents of other areas who don’t want to see similar issues of speeding and rat running increasing for them. However, the international evidence shows that when we provide for traffic calming and safer walking and cycling, it allows more people to switch to walking, cycling and even scooting and frees up the roads for those who still have to drive. Grangegorman alone won’t solve the problem of traffic congestion for the north inner city but I believe it is one important piece of the puzzle for safer, healthier and greener streets for all and I look forward to working with you to take the next steps.