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Majority of motorists voice strong support for proposal to reduce car traffic in Dublin city centre

Dublin City Council said there was “a strong desire for change” among the public.

MEMBERS OF THE public, including a majority of motorists, have voiced strong support for a controversial proposal to significantly reduce car traffic in Dublin city centre.

Dublin City Council said there was “a strong desire for change” among the public and “overwhelming support” for its plans to reallocate road space in favour of prioritising public transport, cycling and walking by eliminating cross-city journeys by motorists.

The results of a public consultation on the plan, which received almost 3,600 submissions, have revealed that 81% of respondents supported reducing the amount of road space for private vehicles in the city centre, including 56% of individuals who normally travel by car.

However, some councillors claimed the public consultation process was flawed and discriminatory as it appeared designed to exclude older people and those who could not access or use computers.

The Dublin City Centre Transport Plan which is being proposed jointly by Dublin City Council and the National Transport Authority, was approved by councillors in November.

It proposes a 40% reduction in general traffic in the city centre and the creation of new public spaces as part of the plan’s objective to create a “low traffic city centre”.

The proposed changes, which will be introduced this summer, will see the introduction of a bus gate on Bachelors Walk which will stop cars and lorries heading towards O’Connell Street and the docklands.

Another bus gate on Aston Quay will prevent private vehicles travelling from O’Connell Street towards Heuston Station, while traffic will also be stopped from turning left from Westland Row onto Pearse Street.

The changes will allow for further development of plans for new civic plazas including ones on College Green and Lincoln Place.

In a report to be presented at a meeting of Dublin City Council on Monday, the councils’ acting executive manager of traffic, Brendan O’Brien, said it was very clear from the submissions that the plan’s objectives and vision resonated with large numbers of respondents.

“There was very clear support for the ambition and strategy shown within the city centre transport plan and that there is a strong desire from citizens to see these implemented,” said O’Brien.

He claimed the results of the consultation showed there was a high level of support for more transport choice, more traffic free spaces, improving pedestrian areas and allocating more road space to public transport as well as reducing cross-city traffic.

O’Brien acknowledged that there were slightly more positive responses to the proposed changes from people living within the core city area and the inner suburbs compared to people living outside the M50.

The survey showed that almost two-thirds of respondents expressed a preference for the creation of a new traffic-free area at Custom House Quay ahead of one at Beresford Place.

O’Brien said more work on both options would be undertaken to see what interim changes could be made and what would be a longer-term project.

He said the main aspects of the plan which received strong approval were allowing public transport to move quicker through the city centre and making Dublin a healthier place to be in as well as making the city safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

The report said the main concerns raised related to people who have no alternative to cars, particularly those living outside the city with fewer public transport options.

Although concerns were raised that no cars would be permitted in the city centre, O’Brien stressed that was not part of the plan.

“There will always be vehicular access required and the aim is to ensure that traffic that is still there has a reason to be there which contributes to the city centre,” he added.

In reply to claims by the independent senator, Michael McDowell that the plan was too radical and discounted any positive effect of cars accessing the city centre, O’Brien said Dublin City Council and the NTA were very conscious of the need to ensure that commercial business escan continue to operate in the city centre.

He said any changes to traffic arrangements would be carefully monitored.

O’Brien also reassured groups representing people with disabilities that there would be no reduction in parking spaces for disabled motorists.

Concerns about access were raised by a number of city centre businesses including BT Arnotts the Westbury Hotel and Diageo as well as the Irish Parking Association which represents a number of city centre multi-storey car parks.

Stanberry Investment, which owned the Grafton Carpark, (formerly the Brown Thomas car park) claimed the traffic plan would “decimate city centre retail business” and that it was seeking to close their business.

O’Brien said the council proposed to continue to meet with businesses in a collaborative fashion and to take opportunities to discuss any measures which were proposed to be implemented.

He said the plan aimed to ensure the continuance of businesses in the city centre while acknowledging that changes were needed to current traffic arrangements.

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Author
Seán McCárthaigh
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