Pedestrianisation of Capel Street and Parliament Street to be extended

Car ban to facilitate outdoor dining on weekend nights was to end next weekend

Cars have been banned from the streets from 6.30pm to 11.30pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday since June 11th to facilitate outdoor dining. Photograph: Alan Betson

Cars have been banned from the streets from 6.30pm to 11.30pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday since June 11th to facilitate outdoor dining. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Dublin City Council is to extend the pedestrianisation of Capel Street and Parliament Street in Dublin city at weekend nights, which was due to finish next weekend, for another month.

Cars have been banned from the streets, which face each other over the river Liffey at Grattan Bridge, from 6.30pm to 11.30pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday since June 11th to facilitate outdoor dining.

The traffic-free trial was to remain in place until July 18th, but the council in early July decided to extend the measure for another six weeks to August 29th. The move followed the Government decision to postpone the resumption of indoor dining and drinking.

The council on Monday posted a message on Twitter noting the success of the scheme: “Over the last 11 weeks, more than 300,000 people have experienced the traffic-free streets of Capel Street and Parliament Street. This weekend is the final scheduled weekend so be sure to check it out!”

The tweet was met with instant backlash on the social media platform from fans of the measure calling for it to be kept in place.

The initiative “ will now conclude on September 26th”, the council said.

‘Fabulous initiative’

“The decision to extend the traffic-free weekends was made by Dublin City Council management following representations by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Alison Gilliland, and her fellow councillors,” it said.

“This trial has been hugely successful so far,” Ms Gilliland said. “It makes perfect sense for it to continue until the end of September. I am delighted that, with the support of cross-party colleagues, we have been able to secure this extension. I would encourage anyone who hasn’t already done so to come in and see for yourself what a fabulous outdoor initiative this is.”

Capel Street business owner Rory O’Neill, also known as Panti Bliss, who runs Pantibar, described the council’s approach to the pedestrian trial as “weird” and “bizarre”.

“The original six-week trial was a huge success. Then the council decided to extend it for another six-week ‘trial’ which is a weird thing to do in that, the trial had already shown it was a success. Anyone who understands English knows a trial is something you do to test if something works, this worked.”

The council’s initial tweet on Monday celebrating the success of the scheme while simultaneously drawing it to a close was “just bizarre”, he said.

“One of the reasons I’m so annoyed about this is the council only seem to respond to public outrage, rather than talking to the public or talking to businesses. Everyone agrees the city improved dramatically when it was pedestrianised. They should make it permanent.”

Local Green Party councillor Janet Horner said the initiative should be maintained until a long-term plan for the area is developed.

“I think we should keep it until we have a destination point in mind, because we don’t want to go backwards and it is harder to reinstate than retain something. But we need a plan for the long term, not just in relation to Capel Street and Parliament Street, but the wider area, including the regeneration of the markets area.”

‘Big reservations’

The focus on night-time-only pedestrianisation also needed to be reconsidered, she said. “I have big reservations about something that’s only in place at weekends and at nights, we’re not hitting the idea of getting families into the city.”

Independent councillor Nial Ring said he had received a “huge deluge” of emails seeking the continuation of the trial.

“In my view it was something done for a trial period, and it has to end at some point so it can be evaluated.”

The measure was “a great success on the face of it” but, he said, some businesses and people with disabilities may have issues with the pedestrianisation and the loss of parking spaces.

“It brought a lot of life into that part of town, but we need to listen to the views of everybody, not just the revellers having a great time.”

Public consultation on the scheme will start next Monday, the council said. “This was originally planned as part of the initiative. Dublin City Council will also engage specifically with residents and businesses in the immediate area.”