An interim cycle path on Chesterfield Avenue is expected to be in place this year ahead of a permanent redesign of the route.
Meanwhile, 9-month trials will see North Road be made one-way and a modal filter will stop through motor traffic on Upper Glen Road, and details are expected in “early 2022” of a bus route that will serve inside the park but it is unclear when this will be operational.
The information was contained in a written reply to a parliamentary question asked by Deputy Patrick Costello (Green Party) a question seeking an update on the implementation of the recommendations from the Phoenix Park Transport and Mobility Options report.
In 2020, Minister for State for the OPW, Patrick O’Donovan (Fine Gael) went against advice from his officials and ordered the opening up of all of the side gates to the park.
He told Radio 1 at the time: “I’m like everybody, I would love to see the Phoenix Park maintained for park use only, but I’m also very conscious of the fact that the western side of Dublin has grown up around the park and, whether we like it or not, for an awful lot of people it is a commuter route. It’s a commuter route from Longford, from Westmeath, from Meath, from parts of Dublin.”
Last year, the Phoenix Park plan was welcomed by Green Party leader and transport Minister Eamon Ryan while it was derided by local Green Party TD, MEP and councillors.
In his parliamentary reply last week, the junior Minister O’Donovan outlined what has happened and what is planned under Phase 1, which accounts for years 0-2 of the plan. He said the work started last year with the repair of footpaths in some sections of the park, including 2.5km of footpaths along North Road.
He said: “I’d like to emphasise that I personally have met with the relevant public representatives on a number of occasions at key stages in the process over the last eighteen months with a view to listening and understanding the concerns of constituents with regard to transport and mobility issues in, and around the Park.”
He said a detailed communications plan is currently being finalised on the details outlined below.
Cycle path on Chesterfield Avenue
He said: “The design and plans for the 4.5km permanent one-directional cycle lanes along Chesterfield Avenue, linking Castleknock to the city, are currently being developed with the National Transport Authority and Dublin City Council.
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“In the interim, the tender has been awarded for the supply and installation of traffic lane separators for the entire length of Chesterfield Avenue, on both sides of the road. Works on site are due to commence in February 2022. Over 8km of temporary cones will be removed and these new durable and strong dividers will ensure a safer experience for both cyclists and vehicles using Chesterfield Avenue,” said O’Donovan.
He said over 40 new bicycle stands have been installed in the park, with 70 planned for 2022.
The OPW, he said, is currently preparing a 3-year programme of pedestrian and cycle improvements for the park.
Trials on North Road and Upper Glen Road
Two 9-month “pilot studies” are to start soon — making North Road one-way and adding a modal filter to Upper Glen Road.
O’Donovan said “Further to the recommendations in the Transport and Mobility Options Report, the implementation of the of cul-de-sacs on the North Road and Upper Glen Road will commence on Monday 28 February 2022.”
“North Road will be temporarily closed from 21 February to facilitate enabling works including the instillation of bollards, new road markings, signage etc and will reopen on 28 February as a one-way system, in the City direction only. Likewise, on the Upper Glen Road, enabling works will commence from February 21 to facilitate the installation of bollards, signage and line marking in advance of the pilot cul-de-sacs commencing on the 28 February 2022. Access will not be impacted to those institutions in close proximity to these pilot studies routes,” he said.
According to the junior Minister, traffic data collection points were installed throughout the Phoenix Park in late 2021 and will record vehicular and cycle data over the next 6 months.
Possible impacts on the surrounding areas and communities will be covered by a “secondary study area encompassing residential areas surrounding”.
“Under the theme ‘Movement within the Park’, the OPW and An Garda Siochana have been actively refining plans for the introduction of a 30kmph speed limit in the Park from 28 February 2022. A robust operations and communications plan will be put in place in advance of the reduction of speed limit from 50kph to 30kph,” he said.
He said: “This measure should see a marked difference in driver behaviour making the Park a safer place for those using it for recreational purposes. An Garda Siochana will monitor compliance with the new speed limit and will take appropriate action when necessary.”
It was not outlined how this would be enforced without legal changes.
A Parking Strategy, he said, will “primarily be focused on measures related to visitor parking including bike parking, and in light of the aims and objectives of the Transport and Mobility Options Study, emphasis will be on providing for those visitors who have no other option than to use a car to visit the Park. The Strategy will also address the needs of those with mobility issues and their parking requirements. The Strategy will however, also be required to address issues such as long stay commuter parking and illegal parking within the Park.”
Bus route to serve inside the park
O’Donovan said: “I can also advise that the National Transport Authority is currently trialling bus options for the Park and they do hope to have recommendations in early 2022 for the best options available to serve the Phoenix Park and surrounding areas.”
The minister outlined that the OPW has initiated “a review of the legislation pertaining to the bye-laws of the Phoenix Park” with the Chief State Solicitor’s Office and relevant Government departments, with “regard to the regulation of traffic and parking within the Phoenix Park”. It was unclear what this was relating to and was not directly connected with the section of the response on speed limits.