Car-free Ciclovía street event proposed for central Dublin

Elected councillors in the south east area of Dublin City have asked Dublin City Council to assess the feasibility of introducing a Ciclovía event.

Ciclovías, which are hosted in cities around the world, are designed to let people enjoy city streets without motorised traffic, usually on a Sunday for a large number of hours and always along a free-roaming route which is usually many kilometers long. 

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Cllr Paddy Smyth (FG), who proposed the motion explained: “It is basically an event for which a small section of the city, in this case around Merrion Square, is closed off to vehicular traffic for a morning for cyclist, joggers, people in wheelchairs, parent’s with prams, etc, to enjoy our historic city streets without the need to worry about the threat of motor cars.”

However, many readers may be sceptical that such an event will be held in Dublin because a previously mooted car-free, monthly “Sunday street festival” and markets event never got off the ground. It was planned for last summer by lord mayor of Dublin Oisín Quinn but was quickly killed off by opposition.

Last year, The Sunday Times reported that Stephen Sealey, managing director of the Brown Thomas Group, said the proposal was “yet another illustration of the council being out of touch with the real world”.

In recent years, Dublin’s Bike Week Lunchtime Cycles have also had a host of problems relating to lack of rolling road closures. This year’s Lunchtime cycle also brought a large amounts of bicycle uses in conflict with large trucks on a HGV route which is designed to keep such trucks out of the city centre. Ciclovías require fuller and longer closures, with controlled crossing points for motor traffic.

In contrast to Dublin, car-centric Los Angeles regular runs CicLAvia across a number of miles of city streets which have road closures for most of the day on a Sunday. The Los Angeles Metro transport authority, the equivalent of the Irish National Transport Authority, already plans to run two more events this year, a 6 mile route near the west coast of the city next month and an event in downtown LA in October. 

This time there might be more success in Dublin because the streets being proposed by Cllr Smyth are further away from the retail core than last year’s proposals by Cllr Quinn.

Cllr Smyth suggests a potential route, which he says is accessible via existing cycle infrastructure, could include Grand Canal Dock-Sir John Rogerson’s Quay-Lombard St East-Westland Row-Merrion Sq-Mount St Upper-Grand Canal Greenway.

He added “This type of event has being a huge success in Bogota since it’s introduction in the 1970s and has being adopted in numerous cities around the world.”

The original Ciclovia in Bogotá, Colombia, includes routes of up to 70 miles. This video shows how that event is run:

(article continues below video)

Belfast is also reportedly on the verge of hosting such an event.

In Dublin, local south east area councillors agreed to the following motion:  “This committee requests that the Traffic Dept, the Events Team and Beta Projects team assess the feasibility of introducing a Ciclovía event (prohibiting traffic from certain streets in a defined area) in the south east area to allow cyclist, walkers, joggers and those in wheelchairs to use the traffic-free streets on the morning of a Sunday or Bank Holiday next summer.”

Cllr Smyth said: “If passed I will be seeking sponsorship from the private sector for the event so there should be no budget impact.”

“To limit disruption, such an event might be held the morning of next June’s Bank Holiday Monday prior to the Women’s Mini-Marathon that afternoon, as many of the street surrounding Merrion Sq will be closed off to traffic anyway,” he said.

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  1. Brown Thomas, supplier of exorbitantly priced tat to the credulous and status-anxious, presumes to speak for the “real world”?

  2. When a protest or other event causes some city centre streets to be shut down there are always numerous comments on social media about the pleasure and joy of being able to walk and cycle on quiet car free city streets. The relaxed and pleasant atmosphere of the city contrasts sharply with the normal noisy stressful state. A large scale successful event such as this could demonstrate the benefit of to plans to remove much of the private motoring from the city centre to those impartial or indifferent to the idea.

    In addition public transport agencies and the Dept of Transport should be fully supportive of such an event as it offers a huge opportunity to convince people who may not otherwise use public transport to travel to the city centre by those means and perhaps convince them to leave the car behind more often.


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