Traffic easing to transform Dublin

Tue, May 13, 2014, 01:01

It may not be in the same class as Paris Plages, the beach strung out along the River Seine in high summer, but Dublin City Council’s plan to transform key streets into markets between June and October should give the city a festive air. The choice of South William Street for closure to traffic (alternating monthly with Wolfe Tone Park on the northside) is particularly appropriate, as no street in Dublin has been so transformed in recent years – from a bastion of fashion wholesalers into a lively urban space lined with cafés, restaurants and bars. The price of closing it to through-traffic is certainly worth paying and Lord Mayor of Dublin Oisín Quinn has suggested that it could usher in a new exclusively pedestrian zone .

Mr Quinn, whose one-year term of office finishes at the end of next month, has been to the fore in promoting the city and arguing that it needs a directly-elected mayor with executive powers over key areas such as transportation. Yesterday, he launched a dialogue on the theme of “Dublin 2016: Towards a Vision for a World-Class City”, in which participants will be invited to “commit to delivering key actions by 2016 that will shape the future of Dublin as a leading global city”. This aims to build on its image as a “cosmopolitan, progressive, innovative and vibrant” city, as exemplified by the cluster of lightly taxed social media brands in and around the Grand Canal Docks. What better way, it is argued, could we commemorate the centenary of the Easter Rising?

But the Lord Mayor needs to look at how inadequately his own organisation, Dublin City Council, manages the capital. There is no indication, for example, that it is actually implementing its own public realm strategy, published three years ago. Maintenance is deplorable, as anyone who crosses the Millennium Bridge will know; its bronze handrails are permanently scarred by graffiti “tags” because there is no consistent cleaning programme to make good the damage caused by vandals. Although we might prefer to look at the big picture, attention to detail is important.