As Covid Mobility Measures Push Ahead Some Say They’re Left out of the Loop

Each Friday, Dublin City Council sends out an update via email to councillors on the Covid Mobility Plan.

The original plan, published in May, set out infrastructure changes such as increasing cycle lanes, widening of footpaths, the pedestrianisation of streets in the city centre and filtered permeability measures that were made in Dublin during Covid-19.

According to the council website, the plan is aimed at “providing space for safe movement plus business activities, and in accommodating the changed transport patterns”.

“Overall, I’m definitely happy with the aims of it,” says Sinn Féin Councillor Daniel Céitinn.

But, he adds, talking over the phone last Thursday, that with some of the bigger projects, such as the Strand Road cycle track there’s been a lack of consultation with councillors.

Some councillors are looking for more inclusion and communication from Dublin City Council as they continue to make changes to the city’s transport infrastructure.

Confusion on Strand Road

Plans for a new cycle track on Strand Road in Sandymount were included in the latest update.

A 2.6km two-way cycle track is proposed, which will make the stretch of road one-way only for traffic between Marine Drive and Merrion Gates for a trial basis of six months. Currently, the plans are in the consultation period.

“Design work continues on the Strand Road two way cycle track. A detailed report on the scheme, details of the layout etc. will be circulated to councillors next week,” the report, sent on 14 August said.

It was a full week after, 21 August, when councillors saw the details of the plans.

“It was the way in which it was announced. We as councillors knew nothing about it,” says Fine Gael Councillor Paddy McCartan.

This left locals wondering whether a part of the Strand Road would be turned into a one-way road, says McCartan; “This could lead to people using the roads around Sandymount as a type of rat run.”

Councillor Céitinn says: “It’s all being done as part of the city’s Covid measures. We’re told about them but we are not really involved in the decision-making process.”

School Mobility Plan

According to the most recent update, the council is assessing the feasibility of creating “vehicle-free entrances” at school gates.

Designs are “being finalised”, says the report, for a “School Zone” at two schools in the city — Francis Street CBS, John Dillon Street, Dublin 8 and Central Model School, Deverill Place, Gardiner St, Dublin 1 — with the council working on “bespoke solutions” for other schools throughout the city.

The aim of these zones is to encourage cars not to stop, even to drop off passengers, which the report says will “prevent parked or stopped cars blocking visibility of pedestrian crossings”.

Éadaoin Kelly, principal of St Mary’s Primary School on Dorset Street, says that making parking free in the surrounding areas of schools for a certain time is one way to avoid gate entrances being blocked up by cars.

If this was done, Kelly says that parents would be more inclined to park their cars and walk children to school, staggering people approaching the gate at the one time.

Dublin City Council did not respond in time to a query as to whether they would consider this as a solution.

Slow in the Suburbs

In some outer Dublin suburbs, road works have all but stalled, says Fianna Fáil Councillor Keith Connolly.

“All the engineers that would be assigned to a local area are now working on the Covid mobility,” says Connolly.

Connolly says that projects in the suburbs have been put on the back burner while the city is prioritised, he says.

Requests have been made in Connolly’s area in Finglas-Ballymun for speed ramps to be put since March and they are still waiting for them to be put in, he says.

There has also been delays in the neighbourhood schemes, says Connolly.

“[This is] where engineers look at specific areas mainly issues around traffic, speeding and parking and they come up with recommendations but that is also paused because of the Covid-mobility scheme,” he says.

“Which is fair enough but from what I’m hearing the city is dead and the suburbs are almost busier,” he says.

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Donal Corrigan: Donal Corrigan is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer. He covers transport, and the southside. To get in contact with him, you can email him on [email protected]

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