Cars and urban transport solutions

Sustainable and active transport

Sir, – MichaeI McDowell is concerned that those who have little alternative to the private car are being unfairly targeted by the prioritisation of sustainable and active transport over cars (“Car use is not simply the prerogative of the odious and hysterical middle class”, Opinion & Analysis, March 29th).

The challenge for those of us, particularly in Dublin, who do have alternatives to the private car, is to choose those alternatives, at least some or most of the time.

We should remember that Bus Connects will lead to reduced bus times, making bus travel, in many cases, quicker than car travel in Dublin.

In addition, the construction of segregated bike lanes on the Bus Connects routes will help complete a segregated bike network which increases cyclists safety. This removes the main barrier to more cycling for the 25 per cent of Dubliners who say they would like to cycle (at least some of the time) but who are too nervous of mixing with cars.


For school kids, the Safe Walking & Cycling Routes to School programme should take a lot of the school-run traffic from the streets.

These changes, which facilitate active and sustainable transport use (while also increasing physical activity and improving general health), will free up the roads for those who have no alternative to the car.

What’s not to like about this? – Yours, etc,


Dublin 4.

Sir, – Michael McDowell seems to have little faith in public transport, telling us that it will never provide for the many needs of daily life.

Nevertheless, a future with vastly reduced private car ownership and usage is coming, whether Mr McDowell likes it or not.

To get a glimpse of what this future might look like we do not need to look too far, as other EU countries with better public transport systems are already well on their way to this future.

As an example, Austria is similar to Ireland in size and population.

Here, cities are largely car free and public transport is designed to the highest standard with excellent bus and rail links serving cities and the countryside. It is quite normal for people in rural areas to go about their daily lives using public transport. In cities, it is permitted to drive (on certain streets) but the majority of people choose to use public transport, walk or cycle – even when it’s raining! The result is people-centric towns, thriving rural communities, and high environmental standards.

As Austria’s GDP is also similar to ours, we may conclude that the difference is one of priorities and planning. A successful transition to a less car-dependent future requires investment in public transport in addition to a long-term approach to urban and rural planning.

Over the years, Mr McDowell has rightly argued that our approach to planning should be guided by the highest standards.

Indeed, this is what we should expect for our country. With similar thinking on public transport we can achieve a future that already exists in a country not too far from, and not too different, to ours. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – Cars have to go! Power lines replaced. Houses built. Public transport expanded. Cycle lanes too.

Not forgetting flood defences or fixing that creaking water supply.

Surely Lorenz Hart’s 1939 lyrical phrase about New York, “We tried to run the city, but the city ran away”, applies just as much to Dublin in 2023. – Yours, etc,



Co Donegal.

Sir, – Stephen Wall (Letters, March 30th) refers to the AA’s claim that €10,691.12 is the annual cost of running a car. I have never understood where these inflated figures come from.

This equates to €205.60 per week, and I’d certainly notice this from my €265.30 pension per week!

I’d warrant that the majority of individuals do not drive new cars or seek to change them every two to three years!

That’s where the cost is, not the actual running of the car, which in my case sits at around €40 per week, all found. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 8.