Residents call for safer social distancing space in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

IMAGE: An artist's impression of an example of what can be done.

A letter signed by 92 people including parents, healthcare professionals and business owners is calling on Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to act to create safer social distancing space for walking and cycling.

As well as the letter, a petition requesting a cycle lane along coast from Dun Laoghaire to Blackrock / Booterstown has now reached over 1,000 signees.

The letter looks for widening of footpaths and pedestrianisation particularly in village centres where people are queuing outside shops, removal of through-traffic from residential areas in order to create “quiet streets” to help adults and children to exercise safely, and the installation of quick-build cycle paths using existing road space.

The group of people also call for more roads and streets reduced to 30kph and education and enforcement measures to stop people storing their vehicles on footpaths.

The letter states: “Cities around the world such as Bogota, Berlin, Milan and Oakland have implemented measures to give more space to walking and cycling. Fingal County Council and Dublin City Council have also announced a wave of initial measures.

It adds: “DLRCC has an opportunity to play a leading role in Ireland’s efforts to replicate international best practice. Another lesson learned internationally is the correlation between high levels of air pollution and increased death rate from Covid-19.”

In a press release about the letter, Oisín O’Connor, a local cycling campaigner said: “I want the council to start preparing for the lifting of the lockdown. My daughter just learned how to cycle and she’s physically able to cycle the 3km to school. I’d just be worried about the increase in traffic levels if people stop using the Luas and the bus.”

O’Connor, who lives in Clonskeagh with his wife Mercy and their 5-year-old daughter, Saoirse, said: “Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has a history of conservatism and opposition to change compared to other councils such as Fingal and Dublin City. Their usual opposition to pro-pedestrian measures is that it will negatively affect footfall. Now they are claiming that pro-pedestrian measures will cause too many people to get outside for local exercise. Can both be true?”

He added: “Now is the opportunity for the council to show they are progressive and are prepared to follow public health guidance from the WHO instead of optimising the entire county for cars over people.”

Clara Clark, a spokesperson for Cycling Without Age and Blackrock resident said: “Car parking be suspended from some roads in the Blackrock and Dun Laoghaire areas in order to make more space to walk and cycle safely. I would love the emphasis to move from motor transport to active and sustainable travel”.

Micheál Walsh, a Ballybrack resident, said that he is concerned that the current behaviour at traffic lights would prevent him and his children from crossing the road safely.

Walsh said: “More motorists than usual are increasing speed as they approach junctions with little regard to us crossing on a green man”.

Dara Caroll, who is part of the Ballybrack Loughlinstown Environment Group, said: “Multiple DLRCC plans and strategies talk about promoting the pedestrian and cycling environment. Now is the time to put these into action.”

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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