— Article to be updated with images and any updates.
— UPDATED with tweets with images…
Around about now protesters from the group called Streets Are For People are opening up Dublin’s Lower Liffey Street to people rather than cars.
The street leads up to the Ha’penny Bridge and is one of the most important pedestrian links between Temple Bar and the Henry Street area. According to a traffic study, there’s an average of 32,000 pedestrians vs 1,000 vehicles a day along Liffey Street Lower.
As we’re reported previously, Dublin City Council has a plan to pedestrianise a section of the street, while allowing for delivery motor vehicles to retain access but banning cycling.
The Streets Are For People group — which is made up of Dublin Cycling Campaign, Dublin Commuter Coalition, Irish Pedestrian Network, and Extinction Rebellion Dublin — said that they will create “a clean air zone” on the street “by preventing motor traffic from accessing the street”.
In July, the group carried out a similar protest action on South William Street which was widely seen as better run than Dublin City Council’s trial of pedestrianising College Green.
— Streets Are For People (@streetsare4ppl) August 31, 2019
We have occupied Lower Liffey Street and declared a #CleanAirZone until 6pm. A council proposed pedestrian plan for this street is being threatened with legal action by large car park owners in the area. #StreetsAreForPeople pic.twitter.com/pbeZmwRIIz
— Neasa Hourigan TD (@neasa_neasa) August 31, 2019
[Thread] A #StreetsAreForPeople action has began on Liffey Street Lower just north of Halpenny Bridge in Dublin. Volunteers from @dublincycling @IrishPedestrian @DublinCommuters and XR Dublin have erected a blockade to open the street for people to enjoy free from traffic. pic.twitter.com/Zi6Qfa3mrb
— Kevin Baker (@__kbaker__) August 31, 2019
— Janet Horner (@JanetPHorner) August 31, 2019
Dropped down to join the #StreetsAreForPeople on Liffey St today.. It’s time we reimagined our city city- one which isn’t detrimental to the health of those who travel there shouldn’t be that much of an aspiration. pic.twitter.com/cfMNpPud37
— Gary Gannon TD (@GaryGannonTD) August 31, 2019
— Rebecca Moynihan (@RebeccaMoy) August 31, 2019
The group said in a pre-issued statement: “The purpose of today’s protest is to highlight Ireland’s extremely poor record on air pollution, where it is consistently one of the worst performing countries in Europe, and to demonstrate the benefits of opening up streets to be enjoyed by people.”
Streets Are For People highlighted that earlier this week the Central Statistics Office published its annual Environmental Indicators Ireland report ranking Ireland as the worst country in the EU for air pollution from exhaust fumes.
The group said that the number of premature deaths attributed to air pollution annually is estimated by the EPA as 1,510 people — ten times the number of people who died in 2018 as a direct result of road traffic collisions.
Neasa Hourigan, founder of the Irish Pedestrian Network and a Green Party Councillor for Dublin City, said: “We want the authorities to prioritise public places for people, not cars. Dublin City Council is proposing to pedestrianise Lower Liffey Street by creating a people-friendly plaza and we are calling on all city councillors to actively support that proposal.”
Janet Horner, a spokeswoman for the Dublin Cycling Campaign, said: “Our cities and our citizens are being choked by cars. We are seeing more and more evidence of the harm being caused by the emissions from motor vehicles. Air pollution harms all of us, but particularly the most vulnerable. This is a public health emergency and we need to take immediate action to reduce motor traffic and to create clean air zones throughout the city. People have a right to clean air.”
Kevin Carter, acting chairperson of the Dublin Commuter Coalition, said: “Air quality and the environmental impact of cars are going to be election issues at the next general election. Politicians need to realise that people want cities that are clean, attractive and liveable. This isn’t possible if the streets are dominated by cars, so something has got to give.”
Oscar Mooney, a spokesman for Extinction Rebellion Dublin, said: “Transport emissions account for about one third of global greenhouse gas emissions and the rise of the private motor car has been a contributory factor in the acceleration of climate collapse. We have to take radical action to reduce our dependence on cars and enable more people to walk, cycle and use public transport.”