Groups against car-free Capel Street continue to put pressure on Councillors

— Footfall on Capel Street increases by 27% since it was made car-free.

Groups against the car-free Capel Street continue to put pressure on local area Councillors. The car-free plan was implemented in May after massive public support.

At the local area meeting for central area councillors, it was outlined this morning how councillors are still getting heavy representations against the changes by a number of businesses and residents, as well as by unnamed disability groups — this is understood to include groups which have objected to most walking and cycling changes in the city and who objected to making Capel Street car-free.

In a report to councillors, officials said in the first two weeks that traffic counts found that there was a 9% increase in pedestrians and 18% increase in people cycling on Capel Street in the first two weeks of the street being car-free.

Data from more continuous footfall counters show that between the start of May and the end of June footfall increased by 27%, this compares to an increase on Henry Street at the same time by just 3%.

Cllr Declan Meenagh (Labour) said that some people were using bicycles and escooters on the footpath rather than the former carriageway where they should be.

He also said that there were claims circulating that some companies would not deliver to the street and that such companies should not be allowed to go against the policy set by councillors.

Cllr Janet Horner (Green Party) said that besides the first few days the project has not caused the traffic chaos as had been predicted.

Cllr Nial Ring (independent) said unnamed “disability groups” have continued to contact councillors giving out about the street.

Cllr Joe Costello (Labour) said that they are getting a lot of emails from “disability groups” and concerned that they are turning the street into a “cycle lane”.

He said that it was supposed to be pedestrianisation. But this is untrue, Dublin City Council has referred to the project as “traffic free” with cycling allowed in the former carriageway. It was made clear in reports and presentations to councillors that cycling would be allowed.

Cllr Costello said that it’s a street with many businesses, not just hospitality, and it still needs to be monitored.

Cllr Cat O’Driscoll (Social Democrats) wants planners or greenery to be placed to slow down people cycling. She wanted planters put in the middle of the street.

Cllr Christy Burke (independent) said that he has been verbally attacked about his support for the project. He said that a member of the public has even claimed that the death of his brother had rendered him unable to represent residents, which he said was a ridiculous claim.

Cllr Ray McAdam (FG) said that he feels that before the school holidays the traffic increased more than outlined in the council’s report.

Claire French, a senior executive engineer with Dublin City Council, said that she had not seen the representations from disability groups.

French said that the resurfacing in a buff colour has helped change the use of parts of the street where it has been applied and it’s hoped this effect would be extended once the resurfacing is finished.

She said some smaller changes will be consulted on within the next few weeks.

Karl Mitchell, area manager with the council, said that there had been no shortage of meetings with businesses — pro or against — and that will continue. He said a working group will be set up with businesses on the street.

The report to councillors outlined how the initial street improvements have been carried out including removing some signage, parking metres, and bollards, and applying a buff surfacing, which is on-going.

The report said that “As well as examining the data from the monthly traffic counts, it is proposed to undertake a consultation to gather feedback. This will include key questions such as: How has the Traffic Free implementation of the street affected your experience of the street? Have you any suggestions to improve the street? What is working, what isn’t working from a resident, business owner and street user perspective? What would you like to see prioritised in the short term? What would you like to see prioritised as part of any longer term scheme?”

It added: “Feedback will be sought from disability groups, Pedestrians, Cyclists, Residents, Businesses,
Deliveries, Private car users. It is proposed to open up this consultation mid-July and leave open for the remainder of the summer.”

Data from report

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