Dubliners “overwhelmingly want more pedestrianisation”, says business group

— “Responses need to be evidence-based,” says DublinTown CEO.

Dublin’s main city centre business group has contracted a group partly set up to seek a better “balance” for car users in Dublin.

Richard Guiney, CEO of DublinTown, the city centre business improvement district, said: “The research is clear. The public overwhelmingly want more pedestrianisation and better cycle infrastructure. The more comfortable ABC1 group supports these investments most. Dublin is challenged but our responses need to be evidence-based.”

He was responding to the ‘Dublin Can be Heaven’ group which told The Irish Times that wealthy shoppers are deterred from Dublin city.

The Irish Times published a claim that the group represents 70 businesses in the Grafton Street area, but newspaper only listed three businesses — Eirlooms on Stephen’s Street, Monte-Cristo antiques located in the Powerscourt Centre, and Costelloe + Costelloe on Chatham Street.

The group has no website and no apparent online presence. IrishCycle.com has previously reported the membership of such groups can be exaggerated.

A member of the group, Martin Deniau of Monte-Cristo was quoted by The Irish Times as stating: “A lot of the small boutiques in the city centre would have a high proportion of mature customers, who are well heeled and living in wealthy suburban areas. Many of that generation don’t cycle and don’t want to take crummy buses with bottles and cans rolling down the aisles.”

When Deniau was a guest on the Newstalk Lunchtime show today he doubled down on this and called buses in Dublin “rickety”.

His view on buses was challenged by Newstalk presenter Adrian Kennedy who said: “I would be somebody who a number of years ago would not travel on a bus in a month of Sundays, but now I travel on the bus regularly because the service is so much better, so much more improved, very new modern buses and a network that’s starting to work.”

Kennedy asked: “Could it be that you just had a few bad experiences and that people will start to gravitate towards buses as they improve and become more modern?”

Deniau said: “We would welcome more buses to become more modern, but the public transport has to come first.” Deniau then brought up the idea that some people — including he said his mother — who find it difficult to walk “more than 50 metres”.

Mary Costelloe, of Costelloe + Costelloe, claimed that people with disabilities do not use the bus. When challenged, she said: “They can get on the bus, but how do they get as far as my shop? It’s not that every bus service is going to suit every individual. I’m not against buses, I’m not against pedestrianisation. I just want the city to be accessible to everybody no matter how they get into town.”

Costelloe previously told RTE’s Liveline that it was impractical to shop in the city centre and use the Luas to get home.

In May of this year, Costelloe said: “If you come in to do a decent bit of shopping. If you’re one of our customers who are trying to buy an outfit for a wedding or whatever and want to go from BTs or Costume or whatever and then you want to come to use for your accessories, you’re not going to run around carrying loads of bags and get the Luas home. That’s the reality of it — we have customers saying that to us all the time, it’s not just a notion we have.”

Cllr Michael Pidgeon (Green Party) said he was a customer of Costelloe + Costelloe. On Newstalk he said: “We need to hold our horses here, we have pedestrianised about 300 metres of streets in the last two years or so. It’s a pretty small number of streets.”

“It’s not just about how you get into the city centre. I remember the experience of South William Street — it’s a great street but you’d be scuffing along narrow footpaths as cars go by and that’s not a very nice shopping experience. People often point to shopping centres like Dundrum or Liffey Valley and say you go out there because the parking is free and cheap, but it’s also because once you’re in there you are in a nice pedestrian, car-free environment. If you got a kid with you, you’re not afraid to let go of them,” he said.

ALSO READ: “The message is going out that Dublin is a hostile place for cars” 

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