— Council looking to have parking enforcement patrols on foot or bicycles.
Dublin City Council plans to “significantly increase the number of fines which are being issued” to motorists illegally parking in the city. The move is part of ramping up enforcement in a 12-month pilot scheme of using fines alongside clamping.
Dublin City Council was the only council in Ireland to focus entirely on clamping, while most councils retained in-house traffic wardens, even if there is a shared criticism from the public that enforcement rarely extends beyond town or city centres.
A report on the first 8 months of the trial by Dublin City Council’s parking enforcement division outlines how the increase in parking fines this month, from €40 to €80, will allow for an increased level of enforcement using fines, which are called Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN).
According to the report, issuing fines rather than using clamps avoids footpaths, cycle lanes and loading bays from being blocked while the clamp is in place. While fines are also more effective outside businesses where delivery drivers, shop owners or customers “can quickly return to their vehicle” before a clamp can be attached. Clamps also cannot be attached to coaches as it is a safety risk to try to attach a clamp as drivers often wait with their coaches.
The council said that during the pilot period to date there were “limited resources” and parking enforcers “predominantly focused on footpath and clearway offences”. Parking a vehicle on a footpath accounted for 506 fines or 44.8% of the 1,129 fines issued as part of the trial.
Only 13 or 1.2% were for parking on mandatory cycle tracks, the legal name cycle lanes and segregated cycle paths marked with a solid white line. However, the fine for parking or even stopping a vehicle on clearway accounted for 244 or 21.6% of the fines, and most cycle lanes on main streets in the city include clearways.
It is understood that parking in a clearway is also the preferred reason to clamp motorists with as it is seen as simpler than cycle lanes, which can often vary from solid lines or not, or sometimes not have the correct signage.
The report outlines how Dublin Street Parking Services (DSPS), the private company that has a contract with the council to implement parking enforcement, is continuing to clamp, relocate, and remove vehicles illegally parked by motorists.
The trial started in June 2021 and, to date, the council has taken in €37,000 in fines against a cost of approximately €35,000 to implement the system.
81% of fines issued have been paid while just over 50 cases were forwarded to the council’s legal department for a Court summons to be issued. Only 55 or 6% of fines were appealed and only 6 of the appeals were upheld.
The council wants to see the contract with DSPS amended to include more targeted enforcement with mobile patrol methods, such as patrols on foot or bicycle, in the city centre rather than just in vans.
The fines issued as part of the trial included six offences originally: Parking on a footpath (footway), parking in a clearway, parking in a mandatory cycle track (solid white line), parking in a bus lane during the period of operation, unauthorised parking in a loading bay, and parking in an area designated for buses or coaches. These apply to all types of motorists.
The report outlined how “code blacks”, where clamps are cut illegally, has become a large issue around construction sites.
The report said “In October 2021, a further seventeen offences were added in an effort to address areas of concern, particularly around construction sites. From October FPN’s could be issued for the
offences below to illegally parked ‘commercial’ vehicles in the vicinity of or associated areas within construction site. This was introduced to help address problematic areas and also to help reduce the high number of code blacks currently being experienced particularly around construction sites.”
These 17 offences included parking at a bus stop, parking within 5 meters of a junction, not paying at a parking bay, and exceeding the maximum allowed stay allowed in a parking bay. Enforcement of the 17 extra offences are restricted so-far to commercial vehicles, but parking services are seeking this to be extended to all types of vehicles.
The report said: “Due to the limited scope of the scheme, DSPS report they are unable to maximise the effectiveness in areas of large non-compliance and areas of contention, which often require Gardai attendance when traditional enforcement is applied. The FPN would be more efficient in these cases and can be issued with less confrontation and interaction with the drivers.”
The parking enforcement section of the council is recommending engaging with DSPS to extend the pilot beyond June 2022.
Lord Mayor of Dublin City, Cllr Alison Gilliland (Labour) said: “Parking on the footpath disproportionately affects people with mobility issues, such as wheelchair users or those who are visually challenged as well as people with buggies.”
She added: “For them, it is not easy to step onto the road to get past a car blocking their way. It’s hugely important for us to keep our footpaths clear so that everyone can access the city freely.”
Cllr Michael Pidgeon (Green Party) said: “This looks like a big success to me. There’s a high rate of payment, a low rate of successful appeals, and it’s been rightly focused on clearing paths, bus lanes and bike lanes.”
He said clamping works well for motorists that haven’t paid their parking charge in a legal parking space, but is often impractical against drivers parked elsewhere who can move before a clamp is applied and he said even when it is applied “it means that the blockage is stuck in place for hours”.
“That’s going to mean hundreds of pedestrians inconvenienced, people with disabilities undermined, and cyclists forced to veer out into traffic,” he said.
Cllr Pidgeon said: “Rolling out a new pilot scheme can be expensive. It’s really heartening to see that even this pilot turned a profit. With fines now doubled and a stronger rollout, we can only expect this to improve. The best thing to do now is to ramp up the pilot for the next few months, widen its aim, and see how best to roll out for the long-term.”
He added: “The Greens will be pushing for a return to parking or community wardens, much as we see in other parts of Ireland or around the world. And for those who are opposed, all I’ll say is that this charge is easy to avoid: just don’t break the law and park where you should.”