Plans to reduce traffic and parking on Dublin's Capel Street to facilitate outdoor dining when Covid-19 restrictions ease, have been described as unambitious and disapointing by traders, politicans and sustainable transport groups.
Dublin City Council is proposing to pedestrianise a small section of the street at its northern end and to eliminate almost all on-street parking to create space for tables and chairs.
Under the proposals, expected to come into force from May 24th, a 60m section of the street, which is more than 0.5km long, would be fully pedestrianised.
Banning cars from this section, between Parnell Street and Ryder’s Row, would result in minimal disruption to traffic as motorists, who are permitted to drive north only at this point, would still have the option of using Ryder’s Row.
All parking between Mary Street and the quays would be removed and replaced with footpath extensions to allow for outdoor dining.
Between Mary Street and Little Britain Street, five general parking spaces and one disabled parking space would be retained, but the council said other disabled spaces would be relocated to streets in the “immediate vicinity” to ensure no reduction of numbers. Loading bays would also be relocated to “better align with non-hospitality businesses,” the council said.
While pedestrianistation measures are already underway around Grafton Street on the southside of the city, northside hospitality businesses and councillors have complained that their areas have been neglected by the council.
Capel Street business owner Panti Bliss, who runs Pantibar at the southern end of the street, criticised the lack of ambition in the plans and encouraged people to make a submission to the consultation process.
“Well, the proposed ‘pedestrianisation’ of Capel St is a total disappointment. As I originally worried, it’s only the very far end of the street. And the Pantibar end? No change *at all*. Even left with the full three lanes of traffic!”
Green Party councillor Janet Horner said she would press the council to "scale up their ambition" for the street.
“If traffic must be maintained here it should be limited to one, traffic-calmed lane – retaining three lanes at points on the street is totally unacceptable. We are well short of the scale of ambition we are seeing all over Europe at the moment for cleaner, safer streets for people not cars,” she said.
“We’re moving in the right direction but a lot of this stuff could have and should have been done years ago. Or at the very least over a year ago when the pandemic began and it became clear that we needed to restructure the streets.”
The Dublin Commuter Coalition, a sustainable transport lobby group, said the plan prioritises traffic flow over pedestrian space.
Submissions on the plans can be made until May 14th at consultation.dublincity.ie/traffic-and-transport/capel-street-increasing-pedestrian-space/