Dublin city planners taking cars out of the picture
A major redesign of city centre traffic aims to make it less hostile and more walkable
An illustration of proposed changes to Suffolk Street in Dublin. Cars would be banned from key streets in the city centre. Photograph: Dublin City Council/PA Wire.
On Wednesday, Dublin City Council unveiled plans for a radical redesign of the city’s traffic management, banning private cars from the heart of the city around College Green and restricting most of the traffic on Westmoreland Street and D’Olier Street.
The reaction was predictably divided – some voiced concerns about the impact on shopping if drivers were dissuaded from entering the city centre, while Conor Faughnan of the AA sensibly warned against curtailing access to private cars without providing alternatives to commuters. Those of us who walk or cycle around the city, meanwhile, were enthusiastic at the prospect of not having to play a real-life game of Frogger when crossing the likes of Westmoreland Street. Compared to other cities of its size, Dublin is remarkably hostile to pedestrians and cyclists.
The Dublin and Toronto “de-vehicularisation” plans are just the latest in a flurry of cities aiming to foster more walkable urban cores. Over the past few years, notoriously congested Brussels and Madrid have also announced plans to increase pedestrianised areas and severely curtail private vehicles from the city centre, following the lead of cities such as Copenhagen and Lyon.
Last month the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, unveiled an €8 million project to turn a busy highway on the right bank of the Seine into a vehicle-free waterside park. As Hidalgo framed it, the move is more than just about limiting the numbers of cars driving along the Seine, but is “something almost philosophical, which involves envisaging the city in an alternative way than through the use of cars”.
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Jacobs also pointed to a central element of urban design, one that should be borne in mind considering this week’s proposals for Dublin: “Cities are an immense laboratory of trial and error, failure and success, in city building and city design.”