Reporting on traffic plan effects on Dublin economy not supported by poll

— Key survey question centres on zero car access, while plan looks to retain “appropriate and adequate car parking”
— City centre workers excluded from poll due to fear they “over represent public transport usage”

News reports today — based on an Irish Parking Association submission against Dublin planned traffic changes — are not supported by a survey conducted by reputable polling firm Red C. The survey claims to look at how the plans would affect car shoppers’ habits.

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While the plan allows for continued car park access, one of the main questions in the survey asked: “How likely, if at all, would you have been to visit the city centre today if you had not been able to drive into or park in town?” — the results of this was reported to represent the effects of the planned city centre transport changes.

Draft plans by the National Transport Authority and Dublin City Council, however, include car park access and do not include a total car ban as the question portrays. None of the news report seen by makes this clear.

The Red C survey was conducted for the Irish Parking Association, but what was reported by many media outlets does not reflect a summary of results compiled by RedC and freely given to members of the public by the Irish Parking Association.

The Dublin city centre ‘Transport Study’, which is the starting point for a more detailed plan, includes new pedestrianised streets and public transport only streets. On car parks, the plans allows for access, it states that it includes: “Rationalisation of car parking access/egress and car park locations, while retaining appropriate and adequate car parking for retail and commercial functions.” A new park and ride car park is also proposed for Heuston Station.

RTE reported: “Dublin car park owners say high-end retail trade could suffer a 24% drop if proposed traffic restrictions are imposed in the core city centre.” The Irish Independent reported: “A survey of more than 1,000 shoppers by the Irish Parking Association (IPA), which represents the main car parks, has found that if the restrictions are put in place, they will result in a 24pc decline in overall revenues from shopping and entertainment.”

While The Irish Times claimed: “Proposed traffic restrictions in Dublin city centre could result in a 24 per cent fall in shopping and entertainment revenue due to reduced access for cars, according to a Red C poll.”

However, the Red C survey does not cover overall revenues from shopping and entertainment, it only covers “Planned Shoppers”, which excludes large numbers of commuters and tourists who shop and are recorded in other surveys as contributing significantly to the city centre economy. None of the reports seen by made it clear that a large section of shoppers or those spending on entertainment were excluded. The Red C summary seems to makes no reference to “high-end shoppers”, as reported by RTE.

The Red C summary states that “The impact of 59% of car users suggesting they would not travel is a 24% fall in overall ‘Planned Shopper’ revenue.” Excluded from the “Planned Shopper” definition are domestic and international tourists, workers and students.

Tourists are excluded because the summery claims “they are likely taking public transport anyway”, while workers and students are excluded because the plan it is claimed “will have little impact on their shop behaviour as they cannot change work location, and it is felt that including workers who happen to be in town during lunch over represents public transport usage.”

Similar Irish and international shopper surveys — including one by Millward Brown for the NTA — showed that while car users spend more per trip, other shoppers who use other modes often spend more per month. For example, in the Millward Brown survey section which looked at shoppers only, the estimated spend per person over four weeks for those who walked was €524, which was notably higher than the average car user spend (€349).

The Red C summary, however, claims that such calculations are not possible without “double counting”.

Red C said: “Frequency of visit has already been taken into account as this survey was conducted among a random representative census of visitors to the City over a 2 week period. This means more regular visitors to the City already have a higher chance of being interviewed in our sample than a less frequent visitor. The spend captured in this survey is therefore representative of that time period as is, and does not require a multiplication of average spend by number of visits to capture total spend – this would effectively be double counting the spend amount.”

MORE: Over 80% of Dublin City Centre retail spend from non-car shoppers
MORE: Proof: Shopping by bicycle is possible in Ireland and Northern Ireland

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  1. The Red C study is HIGHLY problematic.

    It excludes: people working in the city, tourists, students and “low” spenders. Even still, >20% of respondents are not there principally to shop. This appears to be a highly biased sample.

    Also, some questions are loaded and inaccurate.

    Even still, the results broadly support the principles of the Transport Study. Public transport, even among this select population, is seen to bring in significantly more revenue than private car. Walkers and cyclists are

  2. The whole thing is moot – the transport study says there’s “an additional 42,000 morning‐peak journeys into the City Centre anticipated by 2023” (from 190k). That’s a whole lot more spending that will be going on too.

  3. “while car users spend more per trip, other shoppers who use other modes often spend more per trip”

    Second “per trip” -> “per month”?

    The papers are having a “bad stats” month, aren’t they? Not sure whether it’s deliberate obfuscation, incompetence, or whether they’re just seeing what they already believe and not looking any deeper.


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