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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 8 July, 2020
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Traffic through Phoenix Park 'unlikely to change' as main avenue to remain for essential workers

Green Party councillor Michael Pidgeon says the park has been ‘a calmer place to be’ in recent months.

People exercising in Phoenix Park last week.
People exercising in Phoenix Park last week.
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Updated May 15th 2020, 4:39 PM

THE OFFICE OF Public Works (OPW) has said that car parks in Phoenix Park will be reopening from Monday but that traffic through the park will likely not change. 

Chesterfield Avenue, which runs the entire length of the park from Castleknock to Stoneybatter, has been kept open for essential workers and the OPW said this will not be changing next week. 

A petition to stop car traffic through Dublin’s Phoenix Park for the summer months has gained nearly 4,000 signatures since it was launched yesterday evening.

Car parks in the country’s largest public park are set to reopen after being closed for the past couple of months to encourage social distancing. 

The OPW says the four main car parks in the park will open from Monday but will open at 10am each day “making them unsuitable for commuters”.

Before Covid-19 restrictions were introduced, Chesterfield Avenue was frequently used by motorists during rush hour into Dublin city centre.

“It is anticipated that these will be utilised by recreational users, family, elderly who live within the 5km social distancing zone but are unable to access the park by foot or cycling,” the OPW said in a statement. 

Most traffic through the park has also been closed off during the period with gardaí on the main Chesterfield Avenue checking on the purposes of motorists’ journeys.

The OPW has said that these aregangements will not be changing from Monday. 

Local Green Party councillor Michael Pidgeon started the online petition and says that Phoenix Park has been “a calmer place to be” since the reduction in car traffic through it.

“You see people using the roads, not just the main road going through it but also the side roads, you see people have kind of taken over a bit, they’re not just confined to the footpath,” he told TheJournal.ie.

Pidgeon says he is not seeking to close the park to car traffic completely, as many people will still need to use cars to get to it. 

“To be honest, I’d be glad to see the parking come back in the car parks because I think it’s going to allow more people to access the park, but it’s the limitations on through traffic we’d like to keep. They’ve kind of essentially made sure that anyone going into the park is going to the park.

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“So I’d like to see, paradoxically a situation where more people can drive into the park to use the park but that we wouldn’t have people using it as just another road to get from A to B.”

Asked how this could be achieved without blocking access completely, Pidgeon says a system called ‘filtering’, which is common in housing estates, could be used.

Essentially you can just use bollards somewhere in the midsection. And what that means is that you can drive up to any part of the estate or in this case the park, but it would prevent you from driving all the way directly through. So what it would mean is generally you would come in and would go out same gate. 

Pidgeon says that he would like to see the plan trialled for the summer months so that the Office of Public Works (OPW) and other authorities could test if it is feasible beyond that.

In response to queries, the OPW has said that the existing arrangements for vehicular access to the park will not be changing from Monday. 

“Existing arrangements put in place at the request of An Garda Síochána will continue,” the agency said.

“These arrangement have been put in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic and on the advice of Gardaí, the main avenue of the Phoenix Park, Chesterfield Ave, continues to be kept open for emergency services, essential workers & access for workers within the Park. We don’t anticipate any major changes to vehicular volumes in this context.

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Rónán Duffy

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