The Irish Times view on diverting motorists to build cycle lanes

The new restrictions in Fairview in Dublin to allow for a major construction programme of a cycle lane into the city centre are a sign of things to come

August is a good time for officialdom to do anything the public is likely to find unpalatable. This is particularly so when it comes to major traffic interventions, as in addition to the benefit of summer distractions, the impact of any measure is considerably lessened with schools off, people on holidays, and lower numbers of cars on the road.

This certainly played in Dublin City Council’s favour when on Monday it introduced a ban on private cars using North Strand to access the city centre to facilitate the construction of the Clontarf to city centre cycle route.

Traffic was extremely light on Monday and congestion was limited, though a number of motorists illegally used the bus lane and refused to divert. The council may ask the Garda to step in, or traffic cameras would be another option.

These offenders aside, the first day of the restrictions must be counted as a success for the council. However come September when the schools are back and the holidays are over congestion is inevitable, drivers’ tempers are likely to fray, and what now seems reasonably palatable may become hard to swallow for motorists.

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But swallow it they must. This cycle route has been a decade in the planning and should have been in place already. When it is finished motorists will be able to return to two-way use of North Strand, although there will be a reduced number of traffic lanes and more space for cyclists.

This is the direction in which the city has to go to accommodate not just cyclists and walkers , but a better bus service to take more people out of their cars and make journeys easier for those who need to use private vehicles. There is much focus in the climate change agenda on moving to electric vehicles – but the total number of car journeys also has to fall.

More challenges for motorists lie ahead as policy options like congestion or city centre charges come on to the menu and more roads are closed off in whole or part. The transition will have its challenges, but the goal of a more liveable, climate-friendly city is worth fighting for.