37% of motor vehicles in Dublin City Centre and 68% in the core centre are just passing through the area, the Dublin City Transport Committee were told this week.
Dublin City Centre is defined as the area inside a ring made up of central sections of the Royal and Grand Canals, linked up on the west and north-west sides by Suir Rd, part of the South Circular Road, and part of the North Circular Road (see first map below). The data is based on the Canal Corden Counts.
Councillors and sectoral members of the Transport Committee were told that a draft of the new Dublin City Centre Transport Study should be ready for public consultation by the end of the Summer or at least within the next couple of months.
Brendan O’Brien, executive manager covering traffic and transport at Dublin City Council, said that City Centre Study is being drawn up based on the legally binding Dublin City Development Plan which was agreed by councillors.
He said that councillors agreed to a modal share reduction for cars entering the city centre from 29% in 2019 to 17% in 2028.
It would mean a reduction in the number of private motor vehicles entering at peak times from 63,000 to just under 41,500. Private vehicles include taxis, cars, motorcycles, and goods vehicles, but it is understood that the reduction will mainly come from car use.
O’Brien said the stark amount of through traffic needs to be addressed to free up space for walking, cycling and buses.
“We’re trying to design a model for the city centre with the aim of low-traffic streets. Some streets will probably be [motor] traffic-free, but, in general, what we’re trying to do is get to a point where you get to low-traffic streets — so, the traffic there has a reason to be there, it’s not going through,” said O’Brien.
“So, we’re saying we want to keep access to various different areas of the city centre but not necessarily by the same routes by now,” he said.
He said that it could mean that different streets could give different priority to walking, cycling, buses or even cars.
Cllr Donna Cooney (Green Party) said that the figures show that there’s “no economic benefit” for the city centre to just having the vehicles passing through and that people living in the city centre have to live with the effects of that through traffic.
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Keith Gavin, who represents the Irish Parking Association as a member of the transport committee, said: “Unsurprisingly, I’d have to express some alarm at the target reduction… I’m just concerned that the wider council and councillors are considering the economic implications these developments and trends will be having on the city centre as a retail destination.”
Cllr Deirdre Conroy (Fianna Fáil) said: “Cars do have to go into the city centre and cars do have to go from the south of Dublin up to the airport.”
Cllr Mannix Flynn (independent) asked: “Who are these people cycling and walking, are they people in leisure? Are they people going to jobs?
He claimed that when he visits inner city flats and claimed they are full of “cars and trucks”. He said: “I go into flats and they are chockablock with cars and trucks.” But according to Census data, the majority of city centre households do not own cars and the vast majority of inner-city residents do not drive when commuting.
He also objected to the bus gate on College Green and then asked if all of what’s proposed is Dublin City Centre’s policy or the NTA’s policy — this is despite just a few minutes beforehand being told that the modal share targets were agreed by councillors as part of the Development Plan process.
Cllr Janet Horner (Green Party) said: “I do occasionally drive in the city centre, as much as I try to avoid it, and one of the things I noticed recently was that I was being directed by Google Maps onto the quays and I’d always instinctively try to avoid the quays, not least because traffic is terrible there but it seems highly anti-social to be driving there if it’s at all avoidable.”
She asked if the council could work with companies like Google to avoid situations such as high pollution at O’Connell Bridge, and Gardiner Street, which she said was mainly residential with some highly marginalised residents.
O’Brien again that the target for reducing traffic in the city centre was set by councillors.
He said that when the officials put the draft out to consultation they may have to rethink different elements based on the feedback, but he said: “Somewhere along the way to try to meet the objectives set by councillor we do have to look at how that gets done.”
He said some measures could be undertaken quickly while others may take longer, and various methods of legal processes would be used depending on which is most appropriate to each project.
A selection of slides are shown below while the full presentation and Q&A can be watched on the council’s webcast website.