Phoenix Park traffic restrictions to be scaled back

Car ban for just one road in park despite strong support for restrictions

Plans to restrict cars in Dublin’s Phoenix Park are to be scaled back

Plans to restrict cars in Dublin’s Phoenix Park are to be scaled back

 

Plans to restrict cars in Dublin’s Phoenix Park are to be scaled back and deferred despite strong public support for curbs on the park’s use by commuter traffic.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) last January published a plan to cut park traffic with road closures, entry gate restrictions, speed limit reductions and the park’s first bus service.

The OPW plans to press ahead with cutting the speed limit from 50km/h to 30 km/h, and a bus service will be introduced.

However, cars will be blocked on just one of the roads outlined in the plan, with some other restrictions deferred or abandoned.

The Phoenix Park Transport and Mobility Options report proposed stopping through traffic on a number of roads, by creating cul-de-sacs that would allow visitors to access the park’s more than 2,000 car parking spaces, but would stop peripheral roads being used as rat-runs.

The cul-de-sacs were to be introduced initially on Upper Glen Road near Chapelizod, and North Road, which runs parallel to Blackhorse Avenue, with one at Knockmaroon Road, beside Mount Sackville School, due to be introduced at a later date.

The Cabra gate would be closed to cars and be used for a dedicated exit for the new bus route, running from Heuston Station and serving the Zoo and the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre, terminating at the Broombridge Luas Station.

The other park gates would remain open, but the Ashtown gate would become an entry-only access point.

The consultation report published on Tuesday sets out a plan to go ahead with the use of the Cabra Gate for buses-only for a “pilot bus service” to start in early 2022 “subject to funding”, and the Upper Glen Road cul-de-sac for a nine-month trial starting later this year.

The Knockmaroon Road proposal will be subject to “further data collection and traffic modelling”, but “we will not be proceeding with the cul-de-sac on the North Road”, the report said.

“As a result of the feedback received during the consultation, the North Road proposal will now be piloted as a one-way route from Cabra Gate to Garda HQ, i.e. West to East.”

The one-way system would allow for more parking for the zoo along North Road. The Ashtown Gate “will remain two-way in the medium term until further studies are undertaken”.

The consultation report found that just under three-quarters of respondents supported the view “that park roads are primarily for people visiting and working in the park”, and more than 70 per cent were in favour of the principle of reducing commuter through traffic.

However, the report said: “While the public supported the Movement Principles in general, some feedback suggested that traffic congestion may occur, particular in Castleknock and Chapelizod villages.”

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and a number of Fine Gael politicians earlier this year made a submission to the consultation process stating residents in Castleknock and surrounding areas were “concerned and upset” by the proposed traffic changes.

Castleknock, Blackhorse Avenue and Chapelizod did not have the capacity to deal with displaced commuter traffic the submission said, while access to Mount Sackville school was also raised as a concern.

“The plans take into consideration what happens in the park, but not what happens on the other side of its walls, even though the park is intrinsically connected to the communities around it,” the submission said

The plan will see an improvement to walking and cycling facilities, including the introduction of pedestrian crossings along the length of Chesterfield Avenue.

Cycle lanes created last year by removing parking along Chesterfield Avenue will be retained, and the number of cycle lanes in the park increased. Existing cycle lanes and footpaths would also be upgraded.

A car-parking strategy and a review of the park’s bylaws to strengthen its powers to stop illegal parking, particularly on footpaths and the grass, will also be undertaken before the end of the year.