UPDATED: Plan for Dublin City includes a trebling of number of people cycling

— Report targets 200% cycling increase, 100% walking increase into City Centre.
— Reducing number of traffic lanes and parking planned to make space.
— Bus services to be diverted in “phased manner” away from College Green.
— Report short on details, including what streets will be pedestrianisated.
— Interventions by route shown in maps below.

Extra walking and cycling will have to take up the slack from reduced public transport capacity in Dublin City, a report issued today has said.

Dublin City Council and the National Transport Authority has the mobility plan for the city to city councillors in the last hour. The plan is titled: “Enabling the City to Return to Work — Interim Mobility Intervention Programme for Dublin City“.

The document is short on details which had been expected, including what streets will be pedestrianisated. The report states: “Within the city centre, various locations will be identified which could be considered for pedestrianisation in order to both facilitate social distancing and to provide the potential for use of some of the external space by adjacent businesses.

IMAGE: Main target range zones for different sustainable modes of transport.

The report is based around an estimated 80% capacity reduction in public transport use, from 116,287 people to 30,000 people at the morning rush hours.

Because of the measures needed for social distancing and moving more people by bicycle, while keeping public transport moving, the report estimates a 30% reduction of cars from 57,985 to 41,000. The current figures are based on previously unpublished 2019 canal traffic count data, the yearly count of people crossing the canals cordon into Dublin city centre.

The report shows walking at 24,691 according to 2019 canal traffic count data and a target of a 100% increase to 50,000. Cycling was at 13,131 and the target is a 200% increase to 39,000.

IMAGE: Chart from the report. Note: The cycling increase would be a 200% increase and not 300% as stated in the report.

Report welcomed

Cllr Michael Pidgeon, (Green Party) said: “We’re studying the measures closely, as the detail will be the meat of these proposals. But the guiding philosophy seems right. The road capacity just isn’t there for a big increase in private car traffic. The report has the right kind of ambition that we need to treble cycling and double walking.

He added: “This shouldn’t be a political or ‘green’ issue: there simply isn’t any other way to bring enough people into and around the city if public transport is at 20% capacity. It’s got to be cycling and walking.”

Kevin Baker, chairperson of Dublin Cycling Campaign, said: “The way people move around the city will need to fundamentally change in response to social distancing requirements. Dublin Cycling Campaign welcomes these ambitious goals to triple the number of people cycling and double the number of people walking in the city centre.”

Baker said: “The measures being proposed will be vital for making cycling a safe and comfortable option for the thousands of people who will be new to cycling in the city. Dublin Cycling Campaign volunteers will review the plans in detail and continue to push for further expansion of safe cycling routes. The remaining three Dublin councils need to lay out similarly ambitious plans, to enable people to cycle safely from places such as Tallaght, Dún Laoghaire and Swords.”

Public transport reduction due to social distancing

The report states: “In our most recent analysis, from November of last year, 116,287 people travelled into the city centre by public transport during the 7am to 10am peak period, representing just over half of the total numbers travelling to the city centre during this period. With a reduced public transport capacity, only about a fifth of this number will be able to use buses, trams and rail for these journeys in the coming months.”

“What this means is that fewer people will be travelling on public transport and more people will need to be accommodated on other modes. Consequently, there will be many more people cycling each day, there will be an increase in the number of people walking and more people will wish to travel by car.”

“To facilitate these new patterns of travel, some reallocation of road space will need to be introduced on many streets. These changes will also have to be considered in conjunction with social distancing requirements, which means that changes are needed to various footpaths and public areas to meet these requirements and optimise the use of the space available. In addition, there is a need to consider the needs of businesses, many of which may require additional external space to operate successfully.”

Even with the changes the it will mean not enough capacity for “roughly 25%” of the normal commuters into the city. The report states: “This means encouragement of measures such as more people working from home, travelling to shops at non-peak hours for some people,
and staggering work start times to move some journeys to outside of peak hours. This is a matter which we would urge individual companies and organisations to consider in their planning for dealing with the relaxation of restrictions.”

City centre

IMAGE: From the report.

In the core city centre the report outlines that the authorities “guiding principles” will be to:

  • “Provide wide footpaths and enhance pedestrian areas;”
  • “Support, where feasible, business requests for increased outdoor space up to and including car free areas either all the time or designated hours if appropriate;”
  • “Facilitate delivery of goods particularly in off-peak times;”
  • “Reduced pedestrian waiting times at signalised crossings;”
  • “Provide safe cycling facilities and cycle parking facilities;”
  • “Provide additional space at bus stops to facilitate social distancing while queueing;”
  • “Accommodate a certain level of car use and maintain access to off-street car parking; and”
  • “Implement various bus route changes required to enable the roll out of walking and cycling enhancement measures.”

Cycling measures 

On cycling measures, the report states: “To facilitate a much higher number of cyclists, it is proposed to provide safer cycling infrastructure through the implementation of protected cycle lanes. This may involve reusing existing road space by removing on-street parking and protecting that road space for cycling via protection bollards and other cyclist protection measures. An example of this is the recently reallocation of the North Quays on-street parking for a wider pedestrian area and a cycle lane.

It continues: “Other locations may involve reducing the number of traffic lanes to accommodate protected cycling facilities on both sides of the road, while maintaining a balance for other required services in that area. It is also intended to provide safe contra-flow cycle facilities on streets where demand for such movement has been identified. An example of this has already been implemented on Nassau Street.”

It adds: “Despite the suspension of the installation works due to lockdown, cycle parking design works have continued over the last few months. With the resumption of installation works and the easing of restrictions, we are targeting the installation of at least 1000 new stands this year. In addition, we will seek to install new cycle parking in key locations to compliment the overall Covid-19 mobility strategy.”

College Green buses to be diverted 

The council and NTA said that around College Green the existing space for pedestrians will be increased and the two-way cycle path will be extended. The two said in the report: “As [bus] services are diverted in a phased manner, then this will allow for gradually increased space for pedestrians and eventually the conversion of the complete space to allow for better pedestrian and cycling provision along the College Green and Dame Street route.”

Reduced speed limits

The report outlines that in line with other European cities, the council are to consider “temporarily reducing vehicular speed limits on many of the routes to 30km per hour, in order to protect the larger numbers of pedestrians, cyclists and vulnerable road users moving around in these areas and on the road carriageway due to Covid-19 travel restrictions and social distancing requirements.”

It states that such action will require the consent of the councillors and a proposals are being drafted.

Interventions by route:

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.

4 Comments

  1. I suppose there’s also a significant number of people that simply won’t be commuting by any means, as they’ll continue to work from home for at least part of the week.

  2. Kevin Farrell May 21, 2020 at 6:52 pm

    Good to see progress. But you might correct the headline and the figure in the piece for the % increase in cycling: 13,000 to 39,000 is a 200% increase not 300%! And of course a 200% increase is still a trebling of the numbers.

  3. @Kevin Thanks… I’ve fixed that in the text of the article and noted it under the image from the report.

    @Richard They think 25% of the 2019 totals won’t be commuting. But maybe it will be more?

  4. @Cian
    I would guess that commuter traffic will be more than 25% lower. The majority of car commuters are office workers and social distancing in many offices will not allow for more than 30% occupancy. Many of the non-office workers besides construction will be public transport users. So there is hope this will work.
    However, there will be some backlash from the usual suspects as soon as this plan becomes more widely known and they will be making claims for car traffic based on everything going back to 2019 levels long before it actually will (if it ever does). There was already quite a row on the OPW reopening Phoenix Park to cars prematurely and not taking the opportunity to restrict through traffic despite traffic levels being so much lower.
    Maybe things will change after wave 2 hits.

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