Report Envisions a Route to a Less Traffic-Choked Chapelizod

Aleksandra Jarzynka says a walk was usually a welcome break while working from home. Until she moved to Chapelizod two months ago.

“The traffic is heavy,” she says, so getting to the walkway along the River Liffey from her home off St Laurence’s Road can be like an obstacle course.

In some spots there are no footpaths, and in others there are blind spots from cars.

“Even to cross the road, it’s difficult,” she says. “It’s difficult to see even all cars coming because people of course are parking on the road, so you don’t see everything properly.”

Jarzynka says the traffic issues are a pity, because the village itself is lovely.

Traffic issues in Chapelizod, sometimes worsened by restrictions on driving through the Phoenix Park, have proven difficult to solve, say locals.

A new transport assessment of Chapelizod village details what kind of challenges the village faces, and gives recommendations for how to tackle them.

Residents who live on the roads say traffic-calming measures could be a welcome relief from the crush of vehicles.

But locals who have been pushing for change on this issue for years, also say they want to meet the consultants face to face in the village, to discuss with them what to do.

What Is in the Assessment?

The Chapelizod Village Transport Assessment, drawn up for the council by engineers at Aecom, was given to councillors by the council on 14 June, says Sophie Nicoullaud, an independent councillor.

Residents have been complaining for years and years and years about traffic, she says. “And now we have it in writing that Dublin City Council needs to face it and fix, in order to have the village be usable, to be honest.”

Locals can contact their local councillors with their responses to the report, says Nicoullaud, as councillors plan to give their feedback to the council officials by 15 July.

Among the issues facing the neighbourhood, the report finds, are speeding, congestion, a lack of pedestrian and cycling infrastructure (“there are no dedicated cycling facilities within the study area”), and heavy-goods vehicles (HGVs) ignoring weight restrictions in the village.

There are eight measures that could improve these issues, says the report.

The report says Knockmaroon Hill, a narrow two-way road with high boundary walls and buildings on either side, could be treated with traffic-calming measures, such as pavement build outs so cars have to slow down to manoeuvre around, or signage, plus a reduction of the speed limit of 50km/h to 30km/h.

On Martin’s Row, which follows on from Knockmaroon Hill, footpaths are narrow and bollards preventing footpath parking get in the way of pedestrians, it says.

The report recommends a one-way system and narrowing the carriageway with bollards and road markings on Martin’s Row, and reducing the speed limit from 50km/h to 30km/h.

On Main Street, some parking spaces could be removed to reduce congestion, as well as reducing the speed limit to 30km/h, it says.

A Safe Routes to Schools audit, to look at improving walking and cycling infrastructure around schools, could be done, too.

At the junction of Main Street and Chapelizod Road, there could be pedestrian crossings installed at all arms of the junction, and the footpaths could be widened, it says.

There could be segregated cycle lanes and a permanent speed limit of 30km/h on Chapelizod Road, which crosses the Liffey, it says, and widened footpaths as the road gets to the bridge. Lucan Road could have segregated cycle lanes too.

Chapelizod Hill Road, which crosses under the Chapelizod Bypass, should be considered for a trial of a cul-de-sac measure called a “filtered permeability scheme”, which has been made a permanent measure elsewhere in the city in Grangegorman and Ringsend.

It involves bollards in place allowing cyclists and pedestrians to use the road, but preventing cars and other vehicles from getting through. The route could also have better lighting, it says, to encourage people to use the buses.

What Do People Think?

Nicoullaud, the independent councillor, says the proposals seem to respond to issues she has been hearing from locals.

“We were knocking on doors on Friday. The transport, the noise, pollution, the lack of space for pedestrians for cyclists, it’s every door,” she says.

Feargus McCarthy, who lives on Martin’s Row, says he’s not sure about the idea of putting in a one-way system.

“There was no explanation as to what type of one-way system would it be, which direction would it go in?” he says, as it could inconvenience locals who might have to travel a long distance around to get home.** \ **

McCarthy would prefer if there was an alternating one-way system, managed by traffic lights, which was proposed in a 2005 traffic-management plan for Chapelizod, he says.

“Initially this option will cause queues to worsen,” says the 2005 report. “However over time drivers will be discouraged from using the route due to delays and hence may reduce the volume of through traffic.”

There was disagreement at the time, so it was not implemented, says McCarthy.

Jarzynka, who lives by St Laurence’s Road, says she’d like to see road closures at the weekend like the trials on Capel Street, which is now traffic-free. “It would convince people to use public transport instead of cars.”

She wants to see better cycling infrastructure on Chapelizod Road, she says. “I cycle as well. In Chapelizod, it’s quite dangerous. I don’t feel secure, I don’t feel safe.”

Looking west from Anna Livia Bridge. Photo by Claudia Dalby.

Geoff Power, who lives in Chapelizod village, says Chapelizod Road and Lucan Road could be one-way during peak hours, with traffic flowing in the direction of the city in the morning, and out of the city in the afternoon.

“The road is so narrow, it’s madness that it’s two-way at all,” he says. “It was fit for purpose 20 years ago, 30 years ago, it just isn’t today with the volume of traffic going through the village.”

Power says he’s happy to see better pedestrian and cycling infrastructure proposed.

“The message needs to be made that car owners, and I drive myself, that streets have to kind of give way to pedestrians and to cyclists,” he says. “There’s no real cycleway through the village, or anywhere near it.”

McCarthy thinks a cul-de-sac, or filtered permeability scheme, at the end of Knockmaroon Hill could work, as was also considered in the 2005 report.

But while that could inconvenience some people who want full access from both sides of Knockmaroon Hill, he says. “I would be prepared to put up with almost anything to improve the situation. I’ll be honest with you.”

Engaging with Locals

Vincent Jackson, an independent councillor, says a meeting for locals is being organised in the next week or so.

John Martin, who lives near Lucan Road, says he wants the people who made the assessment to come and meet people from the area.

“We sit down with them, we look at what the situation is, and we discuss it together, as we’re prepared to do with this plan,” he says. “We’re thinking not of now, we’re thinking of 10, 20, 30, 40 years from now.”

The plan has to be sold to locals by the council, he says. “The attitude I get from them, having met them recently, is, it’s our way or the highway.”

Jackson says local councillors had asked the Aecom engineers to come to Chapelizod to give people an overview of the assessment. “But as they’ve completed their task, the council has indicated that they won’t be coming out.”

It’s disappointing to hear that, says Jackson. “I think that part of getting the work done should have been also to at least bring it out to the community that’s going to be impacted by it, and then answer as well some of the concerns that people will have.”

McCarthy, who lives on Martin’s Row, says people will want more details on how the proposals would work. “That’s not the way to design transport infrastructure in a village,” he says.

Particularly since decisions made in Chapelizod will have a knock-on effect on other areas, he says.

Jackson says he hopes people don’t think there is a simple solution to traffic problems in Chapelizod. “If it was simple. We would have done something years ago,” he says.

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Claudia Dalby: Claudia Dalby is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer. She's especially interested in stories about the southside, transport, and kids in the city. Get in touch at [email protected]

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