Dublin on the wrong track with cycle route along north quays

Opinion: ‘Why would any sane adult “choose” to drive a car into the city unless there were pressing practical or health reasons for doing so?’

Wed, Jun 25, 2014, 12:01

A picture of the Dublin City Council chief executive in hi-vis vest, leading fellow devotees of cycling over one of the capital’s several lovely, starchitect-designed bridges scored high on my smugometer last week.

The message? Dublin is for Dubliners.

In that idyllic world, gangs of modern Vikings would revisit the scene, confine the plundering and violating to the naff outer suburbs and lash up some new city walls encircling the canals – extending the boundaries a tiny bit to D4 and D6, Dalkey and Clontarf perhaps – with gates just big enough to enable only healthy, elegantly built humans on bicycles to pass into the glittering citadel.

Free! Free of ghastly cars. Free to cycle elegantly to the National Concert Hall, or the National Gallery, and all the many wonders funded out of the public purse by taxpayers, taxpayers who include those culchies-outside-the-walls and Dubs who were priced out of the capital, taxpayers forced into cars because the public transport is inadequate or their health is poor or they want to buy stuff that requires heavy lifting to the commuter belt.

The chief executive’s plan to further restrict car traffic on the north quays to one lane (and introduce a new two-way cycle lane) is not surprising. He declared war 11 years ago, as the city’s director of traffic: “We have given up trying to cater for the private car and if people haven’t worked that out yet, then there’s a serious problem with IQ.”

Congestion charge

Indeed, he was “looking at” the London congestion charge “with interest”, because he had “never taken the view that an alternative should be in place as a precondition”. This was when exhausted commuters from Carlow, Louth and Laois were losing half their lives traversing the city.

But of course, the congestion charges arrived anyway. They were called tolls and they were slapped on every major artery leading into Dublin city (apart, interestingly, from the N11, which happens to run through the capital’s most affluent fringes). So you live 35km down the N4? That will be €2.90 each way for a car, thank you. Forced out to Portlaoise? €1.90 please. The M1 at Gormanston? €1.90. The M3 at Dunboyne? €1.40.

And do not assume these charges are applied regretfully. Dublin city council will continue to toll the now debt- free, highly profitable East Link (€1.75) after it turns 30, although that’s when the milking was supposed to cease. The 24-year-old West- Link toll bridge – built to avoid the city but a daily object of rage, waste and derision until it opened the barriers six years ago – continues to vacuum up motorists’ cash, currently €3.10 for cars not registered with eFlow.

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