Councillor says traffic engineer response feels like “gaslighting”, another says inaction means public question if councillors do anything

— Officials say that bollards or planters on footpaths can reduce the footpath space too much.

Councillors in Dublin City Council’s South East Area committee this week expressed their frustration with the Traffic Advisory Group system which the council uses.

Cllr Pat Dunne (United Left) started by saying that after requesting bollards to stop illegal parking on a corner, the Traffic Advisory Group (TAG) recommendation was to “do nothing”, he said. TAG is a group of council staff including engineers who look at requests for street changes by councillors.

“The statement by our engineers in TAG as if to say that it’s a parking enforcement issue and that if you’re parked so close to a corner that you could be clamped and so forth, the reality is that that doesn’t happen because most of these are in the suburban areas parts of the local areas [where there’s less parking enforcement.” Cllr Dunne said

The main example mentioned was Kimmage Grove, while other councillors referred to similar issues on other streets. Kimmage Grove is the entrance to Whelan Park used by Larkview Football Club.

Referring to a written response from TAG, he said: “They go on to say that the placing of bollards is against policy, repeating again that it’s a parking enforcement issue. I think it’s sensible to put bollards at certain corners, they do two things — improve the look of entrances to estates and they make it impossible for people to park on them.”

Cllr Dunne said that bollards or planters should be used to tackle such illegal parking, but that councillors “had this discussion so many times and nothing is improving.”

Cllr Carolyn Moore (Green Party) said: “To raise the same point that Cllr Dunne raised — it can sometimes feel that the response to these traffic requests is a bit like gaslighting.”

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“We’re told in the case of Kimmage Grove that it’s not currently Dublin City Council policy to install bollards but this issue with Kimmage Grove has been going on for years now, so, clearly the solution that’s proposed here, which is simply just enforcement, is not an effective solution and hasn’t been effective over the last few years. It’s not deterring people from parking on the green space or blocking other people’s entrances,” she said.

She asked when should there be an exception to the rules not to use bollards as there are examples of them across the city used to prevent people from parking where they shouldn’t.

Cllr Moore said it was the same issue as double yellow lines on corners — when requested, officials said it’s not policy to put double yellow lines on corners but examples of such can be found across the city.

They were supported by some fellow councillors.

Cllr Tara Deacy (Social Democrats) said: “I want to double down on what Cllr Dunne and Cllr Moore said, and I just wanted to highlight that the enforcement in terms of local Guards is very difficult at the moment. Most Garda stations are completely understaffed, senior people are leaving, there’s a gap in terms of replacement — enforcement around these issues isn’t happening. We probably need to table that and face into it that it’s not happening and that we have a role.”

She said that one of her first motions was to put in planters to stop motorists from parking in unsafe locations but that “four and a bit years later, we haven’t moved that on it any meaningful real way… are we waiting constantly for a fatality?”

Cllr Deacy said: “The same people send us the same email [requests for action] and the same people are now asking ‘what are ye doing as councillors?'”

Cllr Claire Byrne (Green Party) said she would like to see planters rather than bollards used for the sake of biodiversity. Cllr Dermot Lacey (Labour) said he supported this.

Neil O’Donoghue, an executive engineer with Dublin City Council said that where kerbs are 125mm high they normally don’t use bollards, the kerb should be the “blockage for that roadway”, while the council uses bollards in cases where the footpath surface is flush with the roadway.

“I’ve been in contact with [the council’s] parking enforcement on the issue of Kimmage Grove, especially when the football matches are on, and I’ll make sure that they will go up and visit the sites when that is happening,” he said.

O’Donoghue said that TAG supports greening when there’s space on wider footpaths, but said that with bollards and planters, council officials need to make sure that there adequate space on footpaths for such without taking too much space from pedestrians.

He also said that TAG does not put in planters, it’s rather usually done by the council’s local area office or its parks section. He added that planters can sometimes obstruct the view of a child and can be moved by motorists, so, care must be taken where they are placed.

O’Donoghue promised to reexamine issues for councillors.

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