Comment & Analysis: The deadline for you to have your say on the Dublin City Centre Transport Plan is December 1st 2023, but what is in the plan?
Usually, newspapers call plans radical when they are no such thing. This plan, however, will be transformative as long as it is not watered down.
Anybody wanting a better capital city should be looking for more quality and supporting the fast rollout of measures. Don’t let the objectors set the debate — The project is supposed to be a transformative ‘Pathfinder’ project, but watering down and any delay to the project is a dilution of its transformation nature. Make sure that you both respond to the consultation and email your councillors.
This plan is also a multimodal plan — a huge part of it is the bus priority while there’s also very solid pedestrian and cycling priority, and car access will still be allowed. The focus will be on reducing through traffic.
The council sent a reminder of the deadline of the plan and these are what it outlines as key points:
- “Meeting the transport targets set out in the Development Plan by making the city centre a low traffic environment and removing the 2 out of every 3 cars in the city centre which don’t have a destination there.”
- “Implementing a series of traffic management measures which prioritise pedestrians, public transport users and cyclists throughout the city centre and ensure that advantage is taken of the reduced traffic volumes to allocate more space to sustainable modes.”
- “Ensuring that the current and planned public transport services through the city centre can operate efficiently with minimum delays and with adequate space in the public realm for public transport users.”
- “Reallocating sections of the North and South Quays to public transport, walking and cycling only.”
- “Implementing new traffic arrangements at Westland Row allowing for space to be reallocated on Pearse Street, Tara Street, Beresford Place and Gardiner Street.”
- “Creating the potential for a new plaza area at the Custom House Quay or Beresford Place.”
- “Making Parliament Street Traffic Free along with College Green/ Dame Street to Georges Street.”
- “Exploring alternative uses of road space at night time and weekends.”
Because the project is a Pathfinder project, the Implementation Timelines for the main measures are within the next few years:
Drawings and imagery in the plan
The draft report includes drawings and imagery of what things might look like after the City Centre Pathfinder is implemented. It is highly likely many or even most of these will be implemented in some type of quick-build way before getting polished up as per the artist’s impressions below.
Some disclaimers: These are outline drawings to give an overall vision. These will still need to be detailed designs before they are implemented.
But in a way once the concepts are accepted, it covers how space is split up — ie if a street is going to have bus lanes in two directions and one car lane, there’s not enough space then for protected cycling in both directions. So, if there are issues with these, you should make a point of mentioning them in your submission.
1. College Green
We’re not actually given any drawings of what College Green might be like in the short term. Just an old artist’s impression of what it might be like after a huge reconstruction project. First, once buses are rerouted, there will be a more temporary layout.
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Key to this for cycling and reducing conflict between pedestrians and cycling will be having a clearly defined cycle route through the area.
2. Parliament Street
Parliament Street is to get wider footpaths, dining/seating areas and a 4-metre wide two-way cycle path for both cycling and emergency access.
A 4-metre-wide two-way cycle path might seem wide to some people but from our own and international experience, it should be the minimum target width of city centre cycle paths. Especially when such cycle paths are supposed to double as emergency routes.
It is really encouraging to see 4-metre-wide cycle paths in the plan.
3. Bachelor’s Walk
On Bachelor’s Walk, beside O’Connell Bridge, most of the space is — rightly — given over to pedestrians while the remaining two lanes are split between a dedicated bus lane and a two-way cycle path.
Obviously, a little further back, cars will need to be diverted and space will also be needed for buses overtaking other buses at bus stops.
The cycle path on Bachelor’s Walk is also a 4-metre-wide two-way cycle path — anything narrower here would be a mistake. The existing very narrow cycle tracks that stop before the current bus priority traffic lights are full with no passing space at peak times. A narrower two-way path would not allow for the growth in cycling which can be achieved under this plan.
4. South Quays
On the central south quays it makes sense also to have a two-way cycle path to join up with the existing and planned cycle path from the Docklands.
Away from the pinch point at the Ha’penny Bridge, there would be space for a two-way path, a bus lane and a long bus bay to serve the bus stops.
5. Liberty Place (Customs House option 1)
Liberty Place is the first of two options for changing the space around Customs House.
Which do you prefer?
Both options will not work together. But it would be possible to make one of the areas motor traffic-free and enhance the other area.
The Liberty Place option would allow for greater priority for both the Luas red line and the non-cross city buses which use Abbey Street — often they get delayed at the junction in the below image where the text ‘Beresford Place’ is shown:
6. Custom House Quay (Customs House option 2)
The second option is to make the front of Customs House motor-traffic free. This has been a long-term goal for many, including some councillors who wouldn’t usually want to disrupt cars that much.
The Liberty Place option is an interesting one as it was never really floated before now in any substantial way.
I think we should also ask how both options would shape the area around Busáras, including maybe the future of the bus station.
7. Gardiner Street
Gardiner Street is an interesting proposal as it is, besides the Liffey, the only substantial cycle route included in the plan.
A two-way path makes a lot of sense here but it should be 4 metres wide where possible and not below 3.5 metres wide. The proposed traffic lanes are too wide and space would be better used as part of the cycle path.
It’s really important that this route is linked to a more continuous North Circular Road route, the Royal Canal Greenway as well as towards Croke Park etc.
8. Tara Street and Pearse Street
On Tara Street and Pearse Street it’s not clear why the two-way cycle path approach isn’t continued to better link with the Gardner Street and the quays.
It would be a better use of space and, bus stops will be on one side, putting the cycle paths combined on the opposite side means there would be no interaction between bus passengers and people cycling.
It would also make it easier to protect the cycle path from illegal parking from delivery drivers etc.
9. Lincoln Place
While most of the plans show solid details for cycling, the Lincoln Place design which includes sections of Leinster Street and Clare Street are on the poorer side of things.
The drawing shows the lane to be a cycle lane but it cannot be a contra-flow cycle lane and have a bus stop in it (the buses would be going the wrong way and have the doors on the other side). But a closer look at the artist’s impression shows bus lane markings in what the drawing shows as a cycle lane.
10. Christchurch Place
Rome wasn’t built in a day but Christchurch Place is maybe one of the most underwhelming parts of the plan in terms pedestrian still left with staggered crossings and little protection for cyclists in nearly any direction and layouts that don’t really make sense. This can hopefully be filled under ‘fix in detailed design’ and for that to really happen.