Dublin’s streets need a “green revolution” after COVID 19 crisis

IMAGE: Pearse Street in Dublin (file image).

— “Opportunity to create equal opportunities for people to be able to be mobile around the city,” says vice chair of Dublin Cycling Campaign.

Dublin’s streets need a “green revolution” and to only “phase in car traffic” after COVID 19 crisis is over, according to Louise Williams, the vice chairperson of Dublin Cycling Campaign.

Speaking on the Newstalk Breakfast radio show today, Williams said: “It’s already started. This is a time of great rupture. It’s a time of grieving and fear, and a really difficult time.”

“From a cycling perspective what we see is more kids going out and cycling, we see an increase in sale of bikes, we see that people are  tentatively starting to explore their neighbourhoods now that there are fewer cars around and they don’t jump into their cars to make a trip. We see more people out on bikes and out walking as well,” said Williams.

She used examples internationally including “emergency” cycleways being created in Bogota.

“What we in Dublin Cycling Campaign want to do in this very challenging, frighting time is to offer the opportunity for us to connect better with the city and how we connect with the city. In other words, offer opportunities that won’t force people back into their cars once we start to phase back in going back to work,” said Williams.

Williams said it’s not about being anti-motor vehicles and that it is likely that more people will work from home after the crisis.

“There will be a decrease in [motor] vehicular traffic in all cities around the world. I don’t think that’s aspirational, it’s a reality. Fewer people are going to be commuting,” she said.

Responding to a question on getting the economy going after the crisis, Williams said that there’s an “equilibrium” to be had between achieving “sustainable economy recovery” and “looking after our communities, ensuring we keep pollution down and manage congestion”.

Barcelona superblocks, Williams said, offers a way of managing traffic which allows deliverers to be made, people who need to drive to continue to do so while keeping pollution down and enabling space for children to cycle.

“I see parents and kids tentatively cycling around my neighbourhood — I find it very joyful in this difficult time. But we should also offer ways, once schools are back again… so that kids can cycle to school. It happened in Malahide where they created streets which were safe for kids to cycle to a particular school — we can do that in other parts of Dublin and create hubs were more kids can cycle, more parents can bring their kids to school and cycle onto work, cycle to the swimming pool etc,” said Williams.

She said more should be tried, including “phasing out cars” on alternative days in some locations.

Williams added: “How about in this interlinear time, where we are reassessing how we live and how we relate to one and another, we start to plan to phase in traffic to the likely phasing in of schools and workplaces. In some ways I think there is an opportunity in this really changeling time to create a much better city where kids can cycle and where everybody can cycle and walk as well. Many people with disabilities can walk and cycle.”

“There’s an opportunity for us to create equal opportunities for people to be able to be mobile around the city,” she concluded.

I am editor of IrishCycle.com and have reported on and commented on cycling in Ireland for over a decade. My background is in journalism -- I have a BA in Journalism from DCU and HDip in Print Journalism from BCFE. I wrote about cycling for national newspapers, and then started CyclingInDublin.com for overflow stories. Later the website was re-branded to reflect a more national focus.

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