More urgent issues than nice paving in Grafton Street Quarter

Drury-Street

Pictured above is Dublin City Council’s vision for Drury Street in the city centre. Nice, isn’t it? Until you read the document its from, the Grafton Street Quarter Public Realm Plan. Back when it was published we wrote how the plans confirms that Dublin City Council is still living in fear of disrupting the car.

While the above artist’s impression image shows what seems to be a people-friendly pedestrian street. None of the notable streets in the quarter will see any motor traffic restrictions. No new pedestrian streets. No bicycle streets planned yet. No contra-flow of any kind.

So, the current situation on the parallel South William Street is likely to be replicated:

The above looks nice too! But when it’s this empty of cars many are prone to speeding and the following is more typical:

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While the centre of South William Street has some paving improvements, made to it years go (pictured above), the street is one of the most important streets in the area yet the conditions are poor for people on foot, in wheelchairs, pushing prams, and on or pushing bicycles.

Like other streets in the area, South William Street is also often deceptively small. While there is a pinch point on the street, here’s a more typical view of its true width:

Look at it with a little less cars parked and it looks even wider — even if you want to keep motor traffic, there’s still loads of room for wider footpaths and a contra-flow cycle lane/path:

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Where there’s nice paving the street is often blocked up with illegally parked cars — there’s no parking allowed to the right and left of the Jeep pictured driving down this section of the street:

Car parking causes a lot of the street’s problem and takes up most of its space, but poor placement of traffic signs on tiny footpaths leads to a good few places where bicycles are often parked obstructively, like this:

Barriers around seating areas both adds to the narrow reality of footpath and the narrow perception of the street:

If the council are really planning to remove the on-street car parking as part of the paving plan, why don’t they do it now? Follow New York City’s example with Times Square — make the street changes first and go back a finalise the design and finishings later.

What’s stopping them? The street is in a mess, both visually and for access.

There’s far more urgent issues than paving on these streets which have overcrowded footpaths that are a poor environment for wheelchair users and families with prams:

Trust me, pushing a buggy on the street is bad. I would not like to be a wheelchair user on the street:

Bollards sadly are needed to control parking, but here the footpath could be nearly twice as wide if the roadway was not needlessly about the width of two cars or more:

Another example of this, with parking also taking up space, leaving narrow footpaths on both sides:

 

The layout of bins, signs, seating is also an issue and it looks a mess:

At the north end of the street the junction turn looks like it was designed to take at least a few articulated trucks ever hour — large trucks should not be on these streets daily and curve is way too wide:

Here’s the same corner from a bit further back:

Note: There is more space around the corner for that seating on the left to be relocated — you could move the seating, keep a traffic lane, put in a contra-flow cycle lane and still have space for wider footpaths. The city just needs to be willing to remove parking and better loading areas for shops and food outlets:

 

The junctions seem to be designed to allow for space for two cars side-by-side:

Another example:

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But no matter what you design, enforcement will still be needed:

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We sadly expect business as usual. Will anybody be willing to surprise us?

Why is Dublin City so adverse to contra-flow cycling? Why can’t we have wider footpaths before the paving? Why can’t there be access for wheelchairs and prams?

6 Comments

  1. Spot on with this piece. All on street parking shoud be removed ASAP, with the exception of strategically placed loading bays and disabled spaces. All car parks on the area shoud be increased to €5 per hour without exception. On top of that whole levels of all car parks should be converted to bicycle with ample room for cargo bikes too. The same needs to happen to the Henry Street area. Why shoud the least efficient transport mode for urban environments get such an unproportionate amount of space ? Dublin needs to see the movement of people over the movement traffic as the priority.

  2. Now that you mention it, I’m guessing that the layout of these streets were never altered substantially when they were changed from two-way to one-way. The outrageously narrow footpaths probably date back to when there were lower volumes of traffic that was slower-moving. It’s so very disheartening to see that the council wont take the opportunity to rectify this, let alone even recognise it as a serious problem when redesigning the public realm.

    Why should these streets and all their users suffer just because BT and the like want their customers to do drive-thru shopping?

  3. Nice one Cian. You have very neatly summed up a problem that is replicated across the city and further afield. Unfortunately, those that are spending our hard earned tax euros couldn’t care less about what the public wants or needs. I used to believe that the Councils were well intentioned, but lacked the knowledge how to deliver. Now I believe they really don’t give a damn. The only thing they are interested in is their own agenda and God only knows what that is!

  4. Cian another issue to raise is that some of us contributed to The Grafton Street Quarter public consultation process and our suggestions were essentially ignored. I helped draft the Dublin Cycling Campaign submission: http://www.dublincycling.ie/cycling/submission-grafton-street-quarter-draft-public-realm-plan

    These streets are located in that public realm.

    One issue that I have blogged about this week on my Facebook page is the number of different waste contractors’ HGVs plying to empty wheelie-bins and sacks on these same streets. This is a madcap policy decision that puts both pedestrians and cyclists at enhanced risk of being crushed by a HGV in such narrow spaces. Far too many different waste contractors are servicing this Quarter.

    One contractor should be given the contract to service such a congested area and the collection period should be set down in the contract!

    We should be querying what vehicle types should be permitted access to this Quarter.

    The ‘high-end’ retailers should not be dictating city policy.

  5. @Ellen — thanks for the feedback… Always welcomed, especially when positive!

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