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Eva Cantwell says she’s terrified that her three-year old son will run out onto the road next to her home to play. “I’ve got two locks on my front door.”
Cantwell lives on Haverty Road in Marino. For years, cars have sped through to skip traffic on nearby main roads from the city centre, Fairview and Marino Mart, and the junction to Malahide Road.
It’s gotten worse recently though, says Cantwell.
On nearby streets there are roadworks for the Clontarf to City Centre cycle project, footpath upgrades, road resurfacing and priority bus lanes being put in, as well as water main upgradesby Irish Water.
The main roads are more clogged than ever, says Cantwell, which means more drivers are re-routing and rat-running through Marino.
Councillors have already approved a trial at June’s monthly meeting to put in bollards at the western end of Haverty Road, where it meets Marino Park Avenue, as an emergency measure to prevent cars from driving through the road.
Of the 44 residents who responded to a council survey, 40 were in favour of trialling the bollard scheme, according to a presentation given to councillors on Monday.
“It’s only going to be a good thing,” says Cantwell. “I’m just looking forward to my kids being able to walk across the road.”
The one lingering question that some locals and councillors have is how putting in the bollards may interact with a similar plan from the National Transport Authority to do the same at the other end of the road – and whether the two government bodies are talking to each other.
What’s the Plan?
A council spokesperson said on Monday that the council is still working on a detailed design and road-safety audit for the trial.
Once that’s done, the trial should start early September, they said, and they’ll give a week’s notice ahead of that.
“I’m pleased to allow a trial to go ahead and it’s as a direct result of the huge imposition that this is going to have, that [the Clontarf to city centre project] work is having on the people in Marino,” said Deirdre Heney, a Fianna Fáil councillor.
Residents of Haverty Road have been waiting a long time for these changes, she says.
Said Naoise Ó Muirí, a Fine Gael councillor: “It’s time to do something about it, something should have been done long ago.”
Cantwell says that neighbours have been petitioning for the council to do something to stop rat running in Haverty Road for decades. “It’s something that’s historically been going on for 30 or 40 years.”
There’s a no-right turn sign from Marino Mart onto Haverty Road, and a 30 kilometre speed limit sign, but some drivers ignore them, she says.
“I had a fright when I tried to take my six-month-old daughter out of the car in her baby seat. A white van nearly knocked the door back in,” she says.
An elderly neighbour has had some near misses too, she says, trying to cross to shops. A dad was knocked off his bike last year in front of his son, she says. “Horrific.”
Where the Traffic Goes
The council will evaluate traffic before and after the six-month trial, said Andrew Geoghegan, the neighbourhood engineer for the north city, in the presentation given to councillors on Monday.
Traffic counts and speed surveys will be done on Haverty Road, St Aidan’s Park Road, Carleton Road, Marino Park Avenue and Marino Park, he said.
Traffic changes always have an effect elsewhere, says Heney, the Fianna Fáil councillor. But there aren’t roads that are as attractive to nip down the same way as Haverty Road, so people might not use them even if Haverty Road is closed off.
“I suppose what I’m hoping is, people will either leave earlier or leave later into whatever they’re going, and change their behaviour,” she says.
Studies show that traffic can decrease, or evaporate, when traffic schemes are put in, if they’re done well. People change their journeys, and don’t drive to places where there are traffic schemes.
Ó Muirí, the Fine Gael councillor, says the council will monitor if rat-running moves elsewhere.
Other roads in Marino do have problems with rat-running, he says. “There’s a lot of through traffic. Marino is a 30km/h area and a lot of traffic goes faster.”
But something has to be done about Haverty Road, Ó Muirí says. “Haverty has for a long time been an issue.”
It’s an emergency measure, says Heney. “We’re hoping that this is just the first, that many of them are going to get solved.”
One of Two Schemes
Even before councillors okayed the traffic trial, residents had expected the end of Haverty Road to be closed off – but the other end.
That’s marked up on maps of the National Transport Authority’s BusConnects changes, the overhaul of the city’s bus network. The road skims the route for the Clongriffin to City Centre bus corridor.
As it’s currently designed, the NTA would close Haverty Road at its eastern end, at the junction of St Aidan’s Park Road.
The route to and from Clongriffin runs from the Malahide Road, along Fairview, and into the city centre.
But cyclists would be redirected onto tracks through Marino, as there’s not enough space for a segregated cycle track on the Malahide Road and the junction with Fairview, the NTA has said in its plans.
And one of those tracks would run down Haverty Road. Closing Haverty Road to general traffic at St Aidan’s Park Road would create a quiet street for residents and cyclists, says the NTA’s proposal.
Cantwell said the NTA had approached residents during the BusConnects consultation. “The NTA have been brilliant. We went into their offices.”
So the news about the council’s bollards scheme was surprising, she says. “We’re surprised that Dublin City Council went and made an emergency measure.”
The council has been very engaging too, she says, and she doesn’t mind which end of the road gets closed.
“Once there’s no cut through traffic, we don’t really mind what end is blocked,” she says. “For us it doesn’t matter. Most neighbours don’t care.”
Although businesses at the eastern end of the road might prefer if customers could more easily access car parking spaces on Haverty Road, she says.
Donna Cooney, a Green Party councillor, says she hopes that the council and the NTA will coordinate their schemes.
The NTA did not respond to queries sent Friday asking whether it has met with the council about its its bollard scheme.
Heney says she trusts that the council’s engineers have done enough to ensure that the trial will be worth it, she says. “The traffic engineers have put a lot of work into it.”
The BusConnects proposals are too far in the future, and something needs to be done urgently now, she says.
Ó Muirí says it’s likely the council and the NTA are talking together about it. “They cooperate all the time.”
The council is planning a wider neighbourhood scheme, where it surveys an area to ask what traffic changes residents want, and draws up a plan for the whole area, he says.
But it didn’t respond to queries sent Monday asking about that.
Says Cooney: “I think an overall plan is better than just piecemeal, one road. It’s okay to do a trial, but let’s do up a full plan.” The council is planning the scheme for early 2023, she says.
But the council’s budget for neighbourhood plans is minimal, she says. “I think that they should be working to get any available funding they need, and there shouldn’t be any delays for lack of funds.”
Cantwell says local communities in the city close to major roads need to be protected. “It has to be made difficult to cut through Marino. Or else Marino is gonna become like a series of mini motorways.”
There aren’t any pedestrian crossings in Marino, and there’s lots of footpath parking, as well as the speeding, says Cantwell, so it feels like there are no safety provisions.
“Really, our long-term plan would be that Marino would become a low-traffic neighbourhood,” she says, referring to when places bring in measures to cut through traffic, hinder cars and make it pleasant and safer to walk and cycle.