COMMENT & ANALYSIS: The main factor promoting commuting by car in Dublin is the availability of parking. The main reason that any commuter chooses to drive is the knowledge that there is a parking space available to them. If journey times get longer because of restraints on capacity of the roads the motorist will adapt by leaving earlier and accept getting home later.
When choosing how to get to work any consideration of the effect of the choice of method of travel such as environmental damage through pollution, carbon emissions and their effect on children and the elderly or the enormous cost of imported fuel fall by the wayside and train, tram, bus and bike lose out to the allure of the car which depends on the availability of parking to make driving possible. Without knowing parking is available the choice will be made on all the options in a more open way.
Within the city of Dublin there are many thousands of parking spaces provided by state and semi state organizations as well as private businesses and on street parking (including privately-run car parks owned the city council). It is possible now that some of those who usually drive into Dublin daily will, in the light of reduced capacity on the roads due to social distancing have considered cycling and if so an important part of their thinking may have been influenced by concern about a safe place to park their bike.
While there is a huge amount of car parking space there is very little safe and secure storage available for bikes. There may be a case to be made for 10% by area of parking facilities should be converted for cycle storage. As many of the large car parks are run by commercial entities who also have an undue influence over traffic policy in the city there would be a lot of push back with grim foreboding of the death of all shopping in the city with any reduction in car use.
The slogan from the film “If you build it they will come” definitely applies to car parks with the knock on of more traffic in the city. When people imagine the sort of city they would like to have they are not thinking of a place where the biggest use of public space is for the storage of private cars.
As well as reclaiming large parts of the public realm to allow more efficient use for travel by expanding access for cyclists and pedestrians with protected cycleways should we now turn some attention to protected cycle storage and try to arrange that both homes and businesses are within walking distance of safe and secure cycle parking.
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