COVID-19: Emergency works to start Monday to make social distancing space on Dublin’s streets

IMAGE: Leinster Street South looking towards Nassau Street.

— Long awaited contra-flow cycle track on Nassau Street to be installed.
— Councillors and campaigners in other cities look for action.

Dublin City Council said that from Monday it will start implementing emergency COVID-19 social distancing works at a number of locations including Ranelagh, Rathmines, Stonybatter, Dorset Street and Capel Street.

It follows on from the news on Tuesday that Dublin City Council said they will act on social distancing space after pressure from councillors

An email update from the CEO’s office to councillors said: “Work will begin on Monday, 20 April implementing emergency COVID-19 social distancing measures at a number of locations (i.e. Ranelagh, Rathmines, Stonybatter, Dorset Street and Capel Street).

“The works will involve removing loading bays and parking spaces to provide additional space for pedestrians at locations where there is evidence of footpath congestion,” it said.

It added: “Orcas and bollards will be installed to protect these spaces as well as existing cycle tracks from incursion by vehicles. A counter flow cycle lane will also be installed on Nassau Street.”

The Leinster Street South / Nassau Street contra-flow cycle track was first promised a decade ago, in 2010.

Cllr Michael Pidgeon (Green Party) asked on Twitter: “Let’s get a few good pieces implemented and then build on that! Any other spaces in the city you’d like to see road changes during the pandemic?”

Cllr Ray Mc Adam (FG) said on Facebook: “Happy to report that Dublin City Council will begin works from next Monday (April 20th) to ensure that #socialdistancing measures in #Stoneybatter #DorsetStreet #CapelStreet and other parts of the city can be adhered to. These involve measures for pedestrians and cyclists. Update just received from #CEO.

“Delighted that we have been able to get agreement on these from officials and I thank other political groupings for their support of my efforts,” added Cllr Mc Adam.

Cllr Janet Horner (Green Party) said: “Update from DCC on provisions for social distancing on footpaths and cycle lanes. Some great progress here (a counterflow cycle-lane on Nassau Street = = Smiling face with heart-shaped eyes Smiling face with heart-shaped eyes)Smiling face with heart-shaped eyes). This pandemic has brought new urgency to the need for walking & cycling to be safe & comfortable in the city. More needed!”

Kevin Baker, chairperson Dublin Cycling Campaign said: “We’re happy to see these measures introduced and thank the city council for taking this issue seriously. Motor traffic is greatly reduced at the moment, while demand for space on footpaths and cycle lanes has increased dramatically, so it makes sense to reallocate some road space for use by people who are walking and cycling.”

Baker added: “Our public health officials are telling us that social distancing measures will remain in place, in some form or other, until there is a vaccine for Coronavirus. If this is the case then we will need to increase the space available to pedestrians and cyclists across the city, not just in specific areas. The City Council needs to be proactive on this and not give the virus any opportunity to spread within the community.”

REACTION FROM OTHER CITIES

Cyclist.ie, an umbrella group of most cycling campaigns, said: With Dublin leading the way, how quickly will other cities and towns follow? Great decision from Dublin City Council to reallocate and protect space for people walking and cycling. Well done to Green Party and Fine Gael Dublin cllrs. Over to you, Cork, Limerick, Galway et al.”

In contrast to Dublin, Galway City Council has claimed that it cannot install a temporary cycle track in Salthill despite the need to remove car parking spaces as a social distancing measure.

Galway Cycling Campaign yesterday said: “This is not based on any reasonable reading of Covid-19 restrictions and essential services.”

It added: “Furthermore, what safety audits were carried out to assess if there was any increased risk to people cycling by placing metal crowd-control barriers next to an active traffic lane with relatively high usage by cyclists?” The council has apparently since removed the barriers and replaced them with a large volume of traffic cones.

Cllr Owen Hanley, a Social Democrats councillor for Galway City, said: “Dublin City Council will start introduction social distancing measures from next week. Galway City Council must begin to implement similar measures and I and other Councillors are working on this trying to get this done.”

The Cork Cycling Campaign said: “Dublin and Cork are in the same political, legal, economic, and social environment. City managers in Dublin listen to Cllrs and act accordingly. What will our city managers do? Is personal bias going to affect decision making?”

EDITED: Updated with quote from press release issued by the Dublin Cycling Campaign.

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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