Taking buses and taxis off College Green among possable social distancing measures

— Dublin City Council CEO outlines challenge on making space.
— Some streets may be opened to non-car uses after 11am each day.
— Motorists parking on social distancing measures to be addressed.

— Interim Liffey Cycle Route measures advanced and now also widened.

Pedestrians traffic lights changes to avoid crowding on footpaths means that Dublin city centre cannot handle pre-COVID 19 traffic levels, with peak capacity cut from 46,000 cars to around 27,600 cars, Dublin City Council has said.

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A report on what Dublin City will look like with post-lockdown distancing measures is being drafted by Dublin City Council and the National Transport Authority.

A briefing document issued to city councillors said: “It is clear that mobility in the city and how to safely allow people to walk, cycle and use public transport will be hugely important in ensuring that the city can reopen, with a resumption of retail and leisure activities. A Working Group has been established between the City Council and the NTA to determine how mobility in the post COVID-19 restriction environment can function.”

The briefing document, which was co-signed by the council’s chief executive Owen Keegan and head of traffic Brendan O’Brien, said: “The requirements of social distancing, the reduction of emissions and the encouragement of the active modes require that our temporary mobility plan for the city is not based around any increase in private car traffic.

The two said: “The changes in our traffic light system to assist pedestrians and avoid build ups of pedestrians at crossings actually preclude a return to previous high levels of private car use. However mobility to/from the city, within the city centre and to/from the urban villages must be facilitated in a safe and sustainable manner.”

The report outlines how traffic lights across the city have been reduced from a maximum cycle time of 120 seconds to 80 seconds. Cutting  the the maximum wait time at pedestrian crossings from 100 seconds to 60 seconds.

The briefing document stated: “This reduction and the increased automation of push buttons has resulted in the capacity of the city traffic signal system for vehicular traffic being reduced by approximately 40%. In practice this means that the same level of vehicular traffic cannot be accommodated in the city as before. In the 2019 Canal Cordon Report a total of 46,000 private cars crossed the canal cordon between 07:00-10:00hrs. With these new settings in place the vehicular traffic capacity will reduce to circa 27,600.”

The briefing document said that an initial report on a programme of temporary measures will be available in the next two weeks.

The report will include how to widen footpaths, provide for cycling, ensure public transport is safe to use and providing increased space for waiting at bus stops in the city centre.

Changes might also include removing motorised vehicles after 11.00am to assist businesses to reopen by allowing more on street space for tables and chairs and also for waiting areas, the council said.

IMAGE: Diagram showing widths of footpaths along an example route in Dublin.

In the briefing document, Keegan and O’Brien said: “The temporary closure of College Green and the temporary widening of footpaths along Dame Street would provide space within the city centre for pedestrians, cyclists and for businesses to be facilitated to reopen. The routing of buses onto the Dawson Street/Kildare Street corridor and making Winetavern Street two-way will be assessed to determine if these changes can/should be made on a temporary basis to provide more space for pedestrians”

Referring to a diagram on the widths of footpaths (see image), the two officials said: “The challenges of implementing social distancing are illustrated by the route between Rathmines and the City Centre. The sections in red in the maps below show where the footpath width is below 2 metres.”

They added: “These sections account for a significant part of the overall route. As this route has been shown to have a high concentration of pedestrians and cyclists, providing additional space along this route will be challenging. This is replicated across the city.”

Cycle routes

As well as closing loading bays to make space for pedestrians in urban village centre, Dublin City Council has also acted by installing bollards and dividers on cycle tracks to block illegal parking hot spots at Camden Street/Kelly’s Corner on Wednesday and yesterday in Ranelagh.

The Leinster Street / Nassau Street contraflow cycle track is to be completed up to Dawson Street in the next week and the Liffey Cycle Route works will continue.

Keegan and O’Brien said: “Initially, bollards were set on line of the interim Liffey cycle route design. However, it became clear that there was a requirement for additional pedestrian space, with pedestrians stepping off the footpath and using the space provided for cyclists. The bollards were moved further out and the cycle track will be marked outside a 2 meter pedestrian area which will assist with social distancing.”

The council officials said that work on the route on the north quays from Father Mathew Bridge at Church Street to the Ha’penny Bridge will be “substantially completed” by May 10 and then work will then start on other sections of the route.

The council said that the measures in the planned report will take from 3 to 6 months to implement and will match the timeline set out in the Government’s ‘Roadmap for Reopening Society & Business’.


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