Should Parking on Footpaths Be Banned?

On a recent Monday morning, on South Richmond Street, three cars sat parked on the footpath leading towards Portobello Bridge.

If you’re in the vicinity often enough, you may have noticed this common practice. Further down, towards The Bernard Shaw pub, another two cars sat on the pavement.

It’s technically not illegal in parts of this stretch, but some would like to see the rules change.

Right of Way

These on-pavement parking spots are known as “private landings” and are a “very common” feature throughout the city, according to a spokesperson from Dublin City Council’s press office.

They’re located outside premises, for residents whose basements extend out under the public footpath. They are, in effect, private property attached to a particular building.

While the footpaths of South Richmond Street may seem wide enough to accommodate both pedestrians and cars, some businesses in the area have raised concerns about parking availability and the abuse of such spaces.

Lily Foran, who runs Picado Mexican food store, says that when she opened it, the space had been vacant for some time. So some people had taken to parking up on the pavement outside.

“We had quite a lot of problems with two different cars, including a taxi, that used to park and block the entrance to the shop,” she says. “We didn’t know who they were. I left quite a few notes and when I rang the council they told me that, because underneath most of the buildings on this street there are basements and it’s considered private property, they can’t clamp.”

On South Richmond Street, it’s hard to gauge whether the cars parked on the footpaths are legitimate private-landing owners, tenants, or chancers.

There are 28 private landings on the street, according to the council. And they’re problematic from an enforcement point of view.

The council has carried out 45 enforcement actions on South Richmond Street in 2016, it’s powerless where private landings are concerned.

“Private landings can only be taken in charge by Dublin City Council by the owner ceding ownership to the council,” said the press office spokesperson.

“This has happened in some areas where a building owner cedes ownership for whatever reason, but generally to avoid having to maintain the private landing themselves.”

But that’s fair, says Fine Gael Councillor Paddy Smyth. “If the person owns the land that’s their business and they can park wherever they like,” he says. “[The council] would have to CPO the land and that can be done for transport reasons.”

It would be costly, though, and perhaps there aren’t enough complaints to justify the move. But some do question how it plays into the council’s efforts to make the city more pedestrian friendly.

Before Cars

The policy is bad for pedestrian infrastructure, says Labour Councillor Andrew Montague, who is also head of the council’s planning committee.

It is unlikely that the council is promoting the practice, he said. It’s more likely that council officials’ hands are tied.

“It’s often very difficult to restrict those rights once they’ve been acquired,” he says. “It would certainly be the policy going forward not to give anybody else the rights, and if any opportunity arose, to remove those rights again. I would say that’s the situation.”

Montague says that cars parked on footpaths can be obstacles for guide dogs. “It should not be a right to park on the footpaths,” he says. “It’s an anomaly that goes against the council’s plans.”

In his antiques shop near the top of South Richmond Street, Christy Bird says many of the buildings existed before parking was a problem. “The houses are older than cars,” he says. “But it’s not ideal, parking up on pavements. It’s a hazard for pedestrians.”

Bird says that, yes, residents must be catered for, but so should businesses in the area. “If you live in an area you can get a [parking] permit, but if you work in an area you can’t,” he says. “There’s nothing [the council] can do though.”

Better parking for businesses would help, says Picado’s Foran.

She says there are business owners who leave their car parked all day in the private landings, presumably with the permission of the landlord or in line with their tenancy agreements.

But no one who works in her building parks outside the front door, she says.

They all, Foran included, rent spaces nearby. “We’re not allowed to get residential parking,” she says. “That’s why I think people end up parking on the paths, because it’s way too expensive.”

Of course, those parked in the private landings are quite possibly legit in doing so.

The broader issue, says Green Party Councillor Ciarán Cuffe, is whether or not we should allow the legal anomaly to endure.

Cuffe has written to the management of Dublin City Council requesting a briefing note from the council’s law agent to see if any action can be taken to prevent property owners or others from parking their cars in front of the area’s buildings.

“Access to these lands is only possible by travelling across the public footpath,” wrote Cuffe. “Such action detracts from the appearance of the lands and the streetscape, and may present a danger to pedestrians.”

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Author:

Cónal Thomas: Cónal Thomas is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer. You can reach him at cthomas@dubinq.com

Reader responses

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Jez
at 23 November 2016 at 20:27

Couldn’t the council put up bollards at the back of the public part of the footpath to prevent vehicles accessing spaces by driving illegally across the public footpath? I know bollards aren’t ideal but they’re a heck of a lot better than cars.

dave
at 24 November 2016 at 14:54

Should the question even need to be asked? But at this stage in Dublin, and Ireland generally, cars have been allowed to take over so much of every available visible inch of the landscape it really doesn’t surprise me they are allowed to park anywhere they like. Any logical sane authority would automatically see how absurd it is to defend it, yet given how the council does nothing about cars parked in cycle lanes all day, it is no surprise. Take the canal road cycle lane at Portobello towards Kilmainham and you’ll come across countless parked cars that force you into traffic behind you.

That such a tiny tiny nation has become so taken over with cars is pretty odd when you stop and look at how much space they take up, 99% of the time doing…absolutely nothing. If you take a look at Bray seafront any day of the week, all you can see is thousands of parked cars these days, it’s pretty shocking. Even the tiniest side street in Dublin has to allow cars down it, it seems. Try listening to a podcast and walking around Dublin – it’s practically impossible, because of the traffic noise everywhere. BTW one thing that has never been investigated at all here I think is what air pollution levels must be like in Dublin, especially with so many areas with narrow streets with tall sided buildings trapping the pollution in to the streets. High time the Irish history books were edited to include the Great Car Invasion of the late 20th Century to add to the list ….

Pat Coyne
at 28 November 2016 at 16:18

These would appear to be acts of. Purpresture: – “The wrongful enclosure of or intrusion upon lands, waters, or other property rightfully belonging to the public at large.” This practice is allowed to continue because nobody ever writes complaints about this, it is wrong even if it is just blocks one millimetre of a public right of way. The person responsible for ensuring public rights of way are not interfered with, can be contacted at the following address. Dublin City Council Civic Office Inspector, Roads Maintenance Department Block 2, Floor 4 Dublin 8. D08 RF3F Phone No: 01 2223802

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