Are Dublin’s shop owners trying to kill you?

Dublin City Council are currently consulting on plans to make the city centre a more healthy and pleasant place to shop and work.

They want to make the city more appealing to shoppers, workers and tourists through the introduction of more pedestrianised streets, and the removal of multi-lane roads choked with fast-moving traffic.

At present the 80% of shoppers that come into the city centre by public transport, foot, or bicycle are at the mercy of car drivers. Anyone who wants to move around the city has to contend with noisy and dangerous cars at every turn, which – although they are a minority – dominate our streets.

Each time anyone wants to cross a city centre street they have to endure an interminable wait at a pedestrian crossing. Just look at the thousands of people walking between the North and South sides of the city across O’Connell Bridge on any given day. They have to gather in huge crowds waiting to cross the quays – twice – because very little thought has been put into making our city pedestrian friendly.

It would seem obvious that we should cater more for the majority, and remove the current imbalance that gives car drivers a priority. We should make our streets safer to cross, and make our city more healthy by reducing air pollution – thus reducing the number of people who are killed or injured in motor vehicle collisions and from respiratory problems.

Unfortunately Dublin’s shop and car park owners don’t care about your health and well-being, and are more concerned with serving their own needs – as in, making a profit. They want the proposals overturned or delayed, and are using the media to make scaremongering claims that cars are going to be banned outright (not true), and that all the shoppers will abandon the city centre for out of town shopping centres (also not true).

It’s crazy, because they used the same arguments in late 70s when they fought against the pedestrianisation of Grafton Street – but look at it now – it’s the most popular retail street in the city!

Personally, I’d like the see the city centre transformed, and made into an environment where families and tourists can more easily mill about the streets and enjoy the city. I’d like the city’s public transport improved – with the Luas Cross City and improved bus priority.  And I’d like Dublin’s pedestrians and cyclists to enjoy a safer and more pleasant environment.

Sure, we can continue to let cars drive and park in the city centre, but lets discourage them from using our streets as a rat-run from one side of the city to another. And let’s stop the car-driving minority from dominating our public spaces.

Richard Bloomfield

Richard is the founder of Dublin Bike Blog. He commutes to work every day by bike, come rain or shine, on his Dutch city bike. You can read more from Richard on his blog richardbloomfield.ie.

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