Words: Ellen Kenny
With a decision to potentially pedestrianise Parliament Square coming today, we should look at other streets we need to pedestrianise.
Dublin City Council will address proposals to pedestrianise Parliament Street at a council meeting tonight in the latest efforts to pedestrianise more of our city. City councillors will be presented with three options at a meeting today which include making Parliament street completely traffic-free, reducing traffic to one lane or only allowing buses, taxis and cyclists to use the route.
Combined with Capel Street on the opposite side of the River Liffey, it would become the longest pedestrian street in Dublin. Car numbers have dropped by 72 per cent since Capel Street became pedestrianised in May.
We’ve seen more promises of a traffic-free city centre in recent months. There are countless streets and areas that could be transformed with more pedestrianisation measures. We put together a list of some of these streets that need to go traffic-free.
The mother of all streets- College Green is in dire need of pedestrianisation after all these years. The saga of pedestrianising College Green and Dame Street is a long and winding road.
Previously, there were plans to pedestrianise College Green by 2024. However, different complications with contractors and architects has continued to delay planning permissions and the beginning of full pedestrianisation.
Recently, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan confirmed that College Green will start becoming traffic-free from next year, with two car lanes closing from 2023. However, plans to construct a grand plaza on College Green are yet to be finalised and come into fruition.
Dublin is one of few European cities without a large plaza. A 2018 study found that 60 per cent of Irish people want to pedestrianise the street, and it’s time we start listening to them and speed up the process.
Maybe before DCC agrees to any more pedestrianisation, they should actually pedestrianise the streets they promised to first. The Council agreed to the full pedestrianisation of South William Street in July, but plans for this will work and when it will happen are not yet available. DCC seems to be putting the cart before the horse when it comes to traffic-free Dublin.
As a street with some of the most popular coffee shops, restaurants and bars in Dublin, as well as the iconic character that is the South William Street Karate Kid, South William Street needs to become traffic-free as soon as possible. How else can the Karate Kid train in peace?
According to a 2020 survey, two thirds of businesses in the area want to pedestrianise South William Street. Only 17 per cent of the 20 per cent of people who drive to the city to shop said they would stop visiting Dublin if the city pedestrianised their car park of choice. However, within that 17 per cent, the majority are those least likely to visit the city anyway.
This is obviously an entire area rather than a single street, but the fact that the centre of Temple Bar is not traffic-free boggles the mind. Everytime a BMW sneaks up behind me as I’m walking along the cobblestone streets, it’s a complete shock to the system.
Temple Bar is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Dublin, full of people looking to get a picture of the iconic Temple Bar pub, while you try to avoid getting in the photo and run away. How do cars factor into this? Why would any car want to surround themselves with tourists wandering around in confusion as they realise that pints of Guinness are eight euro? No person in their right mind actually looking to travel through the city would never go through Temple Bar if they want to be efficient. DCC should simply nip it in the bud and pedestrianise it at last.
Wicklow Street is so small anyway, I don’t think the cars would even miss it if left. The street also has some of the most picturesque shop fronts in Dublin, including Le Perroquet and Murphy’s. This is an opportunity to turn a lovely little corner into a traffic-free hotspot for people looking to enjoy a good coffee or ice cream.
Apart from Capel Street, conversations around pedestrianisation are limited to south of the quays. Why aren’t we looking north to pedestrianise some streets? Home to O’Connell Street, Mary Street and Henry Street, we should be looking to expand the quality of our northern streets more.
If we’re going to pedestrianise the northside, where better to start than Talbot Street? Already being connected to the pedestrianised North Earl Street, it wouldn’t take a lot to pedestrianise this street. And from Guineys to Xi’an’s Street Food, Talbot Street has enough on offer to be worthy of going traffic-free. A bit of pedestrianisation could also prompt Talbot Street to revive itself a bit and create some more life in the area.
Elsewhere on District: Have you heard of r/BreadStapledToTrees?