COMMENT & ANALYSIS: From the Liffey Cycle Route to the South Dublin Quietway the opposition reaction is usually “but where do the cars go?”.
On twitter this morning the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said: “For our health, for our well-being, we reduce the place of the polluting car to @Paris. And it works! IThe decrease in car traffic is accelerating in the capital: -6% in the first half of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. Keep going!” (Translated)
Paris has removed cars from sections of its central sections of its urban motorway along its main river, the Seine, and reduced other sections to one lane with a two-way cycle path beside it. These actions and related measures have resulted in a large year-on-year motor traffic reduction in the city of Paris.
Some people from outer Paris and beyond have screamed blue murder about limiting their access to their capital city.
Meanwhile, when Paris is used as an example to follow, people in Ireland will say ‘Paris has metro network and regional rail’ — it does, but services are as full or fuller than public transport in Dublin.
And if we’re talking about closing off a section of Dublin’s quays and diverting the remaining traffic for the Liffey Cycle Route, it’s a relatively small amount of people:
Above are the numbers of cars on Ellis Quay in rush hour in 2016 — it was just an average of just 377 cars and that was before new bus lanes opened on the quays and Luas Cross City started running. There’s highly likely already fewer cars now.
To put the number of cars in perspective — the longest Luas tram can hold 408 passengers, and the shorter trams have a capacity between 309 and 319 people. Buses carry between around 80 people, with some models holding over 100 people each.
Taking 300 odd people over an hour is not a big deal with the combination of walking, cycling, buses, trams, trains, and coaches.
An incremental reduction in motorised traffic is desirable and is good for all aspects of a growing Dublin — from cleaner air to providing transport for a higher density city centre to allowing retail and employment to grow, not just hold the status quo.
Rerouting cars to “residential areas” and “past schools”
One argument against the Liffey Cycle Route — including from Dublin’s current Lord Mayor, Nial Ring — is that one (of many) alternative options for motorists is a diversion passing two schools in a residential areas… this is said as if nobody already drives by these schools which is on the inner orbital route, as if the roads aren’t already busy, and the quays isn’t also a residential area (nearly everywhere in the city centre is).
Paris also has a solution to this.
Paris first built its equivalent of Dublin’s Liffey Cycle Route Option 7 and now Paris is also building a cycle path on a parallel street. See:
Not only has Paris removed motor traffic from the banks of the Seine, it’s also getting on with building a 4m wide cycleway on the parallel Rue de Rivoli https://t.co/XPFHJQL1wc
— Mark Treasure (@AsEasyAsRiding) July 26, 2018
The nearest equivalent in Dublin would be to build the Liffey route and then build a cycle path on the inner orbital route in Smithfield, past the schools in question.
This would reduce the motor traffic levels in and around Smithfield and by the two schools to below current levels. Reducing the one-way street past the schools to one lane (with the new two-way cycle path in the other lane) would also have a traffic calming effect, slowing traffic off peak and making it safer for school children and residents.
If you’re truly concerned about the effects of motor traffic in schools and city centre residents, motor traffic reduction is a must. But people like Cllr Ring openly say they want to keep the status quo.
Modal change is often indirect
The people who really need (or really want) to drive will keep driving — in some cases they might switch to another route, if this route is nearly full, this will result in somebody else switching from driving to walking, cycling or public transport.
And if the argument is really about those who have no choice but to drive, there’s scope for many people live within walking and cycling distance to get out of their cars. Projects like like Liffey Cycle Route will make cycling safer and more attractive from a number of suburbs.
It’s not just Paris
The city of Amsterdam — a city no stranger to making itself people friendly — issued a statement last month about a number of road closures and making some roads one-way for cars.
The city said: “This will leave more space for residents, cyclists, pedestrians, playing children and green space in the neighbourhood. At the same time, although journey times may increase, the area will remain accessible to traffic with a genuine need to be there, such as residents and delivery vehicles.
“Amsterdam is growing, and will only continue to do so. The growing number of residents, visitors and tourists travelling around the city is increasing the pressure on the limited public space. This is particularly true in the city centre, which is simply not built for cars. In comparison with other Dutch cities such as The Hague and Rotterdam, there is considerably less room for traffic.”
This happened as Amsterdam’s long-awaited new North-South metro line opened but it had really nothing to do with that as most of the motor traffic route closures and detours relate to east-west flows.
Without any metro lines Utrecht is also moving ahead reallocating space from cars to cycling and green space. One of the more famous examples is Utrecht removing its central motorway and restoring an old canal-like city moat in its place there are many other examples in the city.
Below is the result of Utrecht’s on-going project to transform the city’s inner ring road, which mainly includes reducing the space for cars and adding greenery and larger cycle paths:
This isn’t just something that happens in other countries
As we reported back in May, the number of car users crossing Dublin’s canals in the morning rush hour, which includes an estimate of drivers and passengers combined, has decreased by 27,812 since 1997 — at the same time the number of commuters overall across has increased from 180,000 in 1997 to nearly 211,500 commuters last year.
Dublin is heading in the right right direction, it just needs to move faster.