Dublin City Council’s manager has defended the planned Liffey Cycle Route project, saying it is needed to keep the city moving.
Planning for improvements for walking and cycling along the quays — now being named the Liffey Cycle Route — are due to be unveiled at the Dublin City Council traffic and transport committee this afternoon. The planning of the route proceeds the new city manager and is backed by the Dublin City Development plan and other policies approved by councillors.
As we report separately today, correspondences referring to the walking and cycle route sent to the office of Owen Keegan, the manager or CEO of Dublin City Council, were released yesterday under the Freedom of Information Act to IrishCycle.com. His reply letters were also release, as detailed in this article.
Keegan said: “…the City Council is very conscious of the importance of maintaining car access to the city centre in general and to the Abbey St / Henry Street / O’Connell Street area in particular, especially outside peak commuting periods, in order to support retail activity.”
He acknowledge that there are “certain trips to the city centre for which the car is not only the preferred but the only viable transport option.”
However, he said that Luas Cross City, which is already under construction from St Stephen’s Green to Broombridge just south of Finglas, will reduce the road capacity in the city centre and the cycle route will help traffic to flow.
The idea of removing space helping traffic to flow better may sound far fetched, but that’s exactly what happened in New York City when the city under its former Mayor Bloomberg gave a large chunk of space on Times Square over to walking, cycling and a pedestrian plaza.
NYC found that while motor traffic speed were lower, travel times decreased as there was less stop-start congestion where motorists went faster where roads were wider and much slower where they were forced to merge into fewer lane — much like current quays.
“Luas Cross City will reduce the availability of road capacity in the busy city centre area. If traffic is to continue to flow, then it is important that there is a reduction in overall traffic volumes,” said Keegen. “The proposed North Quays Cycle Route will assist in achieving this objective, while at the same time providing a greatly enhanced service for cyclists and pedestrians wishing to access the city centre. A congested city centre road network is unlikely to benefit retail activity.”
The manager said he does not accept that the quays project would be a “death knell” for city centre retail.
He said: “There is abundant evidence of traffic restriction measures having been successfully implemented in the city centre over the last two decades. In general these have enhanced the environment in the city centre and greatly increased its attractiveness to shoppers.”
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He also rejected alternatives such as putting cycle lanes on current footpaths or new boardwalks — the boardwalk option is seen to have large capital and on-going costs, and concerns of how such a route could successfully interact with the city’s historic and modern bridges.
Keegen said that once public consultation on the project starts — which is expected to happen next month — that businesses and the public would be able to give their views on the project.
While there is a view that Dublin has a large amount of car restrictions in the city centre — other cities in Europe have more extensive pedestrian zones and other measures. Amsterdam, which as a very similar population and population density to Dublin, has a large retail sector and a core street network more balanced towards sustainable transport. After some objections, retailers in the Dutch capital are now reportedly looking for more of such measures.