Bus routes and gardens

 

Sir, – I refer to the National Transport Authority (NTA) proposals to widen major radial streets in the suburbs and city centre of Dublin to provide separate lanes for buses, cars, cyclists and pedestrians.The widened streets would be about 25 metres in width, excluding traffic islands, and require pedestrians to cross a width of at least 22 metres to get from one side to the other. In places such widening would negatively impact on social interaction and would take pedestrians about 22 seconds at a minimum to cross a street. This would require at least 30 seconds of green-time for pedestrians on each crossing place during which no traffic could move at all, resulting in delays to buses, a reduction in traffic capacity (including buses) and lead to negative benefits for all. Not much return for an expenditure of €2 billion.

Where is the sense and logic in all this?

Has the NTA considered the alternative of congestion charging, which could be set up at a much lower cost?

In this vein, the June edition of New Civil Engineer magazine reports that, in 2008 in Milan, the city introduced an eco pass charging scheme in the city centre with fees set at €2, €5 and €10 depending on vehicle emissions. It transformed Milan’s air quality and reduced vehicle entry by over 30 per cent. In 2012 this was upgraded to a congestion charge which was supported by 79 per cent in a public referendum.

Perhaps the NTA could learn a lesson from Milan before ripping the suburbs apart. – Yours, etc,

G CLARKE,

Navan,

Co Meath.

Sir, – Further to Philip McCabe’s suggestion that cars be banned at peak commuting hours (June 14th), I suggest Dublin’s canals as an appropriate boundary for this measure’s implementation, given the relative difficulty of availing of public transport options in many parts of the country. The National Transport Authority has indicated that as many as one in three journeys at peak hours into the area of Dublin bound by the canals is made by car. Those journeys made by car are also the least efficient in terms of the consumption of fuel and the occupation of space, meaning that such a ban would liberate an even greater proportion of available road space. A ban on cars between the canals during rush hour might thus save so much space that the unfortunate souls currently facing the prospect of compulsory purchase orders could probably claim back a bit of the road for gardening. – Yours, etc,

CHRISTOPHER

McMAHON,

Castleknock,

Dublin 15.

A chara, – Following the success of the Green Line Luas extension, delivered on time and within its modest budget, I have read the BusConnects proposal with interest, followed quickly by disbelief.

A principled approach to people movement would be unequivocal in environmental criteria: not low emissions, but zero emissions; not fewer trees, but more; not cycle lanes “where possible” but footpaths and cycle lanes first, and then bus lanes “where possible”. In reality, there is relatively little difference in the capacity of a road to transport people by cycle or by bus: except cycling does not induce dependence on a transport company (either public or private).

And, mirabile dictu, the metropolis of Poolbeg continues to be prioritised for a Luas service while Dún Laoghaire remains unconnected to its hinterland; Tallaght must first be further connected to the city centre before, at some future date, achieving a service to its hinterland through the deferred orbital routes.

Among the many alternative approaches to transport within the greater Dublin area, it is possible to conceive a “village-centric” approach, where each suburban village is the centre of a pedestrian and cycle network in the first instance. As presented, the multiplicity of routes converging on the city centre will concentrate bus movements within a small area: an efficient orbital service related to the canals or circular roads would allow this to be rationalised, with a smaller number of routes penetrating to an elongated city “core”, which might extend from Heuston station to the Point, and from Parnell Square to Merrion Square. And so on . . . the possibilities and opportunities are various, but have not been presented.

There is without doubt a need to improve how people move around and through Dublin city. Rationalisation of bus movements can be part of that improvement, but the social and environmental ambition must be clear and the evidential basis for investment at every level must also be made clear. – Is mise,

PAUL ARNOLD,

Conservation Architect,

Ranelagh,

Dublin 6.