Local democracy and restricting cars

Sir, – I totally agree with Michael McDowell ("Council chief has no mandate for 'aggressive' plan to restrict cars in Dublin city", Opinion & Analysis, March 31st).

It is the responsibility of the elected councillors to decide how things should be in our city and not the non-elected chief executive, and they should only do so after extensive consultations with the city residents, shop owners and those who need to access the city on a regular basis.

The idea that one person, whom I understand is an “avid” cycling enthusiast, should decide the future of our city is ridiculous, and the councillors should not permit it. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 18.

Sir, – Michael McDowell makes the case that it’s not the place of a chief executive to mandate the transport choices available to residents of cities, and that this should be left to councillors. He could have stuck to this line of reasoning and made a case for expanding the role of local democracy, limiting the power of chief executives, and suggesting ways of replacing the role with something that’s more democratic.

Unfortunately, he chose instead to leave us hanging on the matter of representation and to pivot to his musings on urban car use.

As well as the usual “not everyone can use a bike” strawman, we were treated to the insight that “much of our present road congestion is a consequence of the favouring of pedestrians and bike lanes”.

If you view a city from the windscreen of a car then it may appear this way, but to those of us on foot or on bike, I can assure Mr McDowell that Dublin (and other Irish cities) are a very long way from favouring pedestrians and cyclists, and that congestion definitely existed before the recent modest improvements in some areas. – Yours, etc,




Sir; –I am just wondering if Owen Keegan, as the manager of Dublin City Council, would commission a survey to establish who are the people who actually live within the council’s constituencies?

The headline in your paper on Monday, "Council chief to 'aggressively restrict' space for cars" (News, March 28th), makes me think that Mr Keegan has decided to make life extremely difficult for people with disabilities, older people who are no longer able to use bikes, people who work in situations where using a bike to get to work is not feasible, and those people who have to use their cars for work.

So wouldn’t it be fair for Mr Keegan to conduct a survey to find out how many people’s lives he will be disrupting by aggressively restricting space for cars? – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.

Sir, – Michael McDowell claims that “bringing toddlers to and from creches . . . can’t only be done by bike”.

Our three kids, over the years, were all brought to the creche, which was three kilometres away, in a modern, safe and comfortable trailer attached to our e-bike. No traffic. No stress. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – It is sad to see Michael McDowell, formerly a champion of radical thinking and bane of the establishment’s cosy consensus, continue his journey to becoming an anti-change crank. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 7.

Sir, – To clarify my original point in response to Maria O'Brien's letter of March 30th, she is correct in considering public transport the first choice for city travelling. The potential of cycling as a viable alternative is the point of disagreement.

I take the point regarding commuting time comparisons but suggest that if she were to recalculate those times and allow for the commuter being in the company of Sarah, a child of nine months or so, and Matthew, a precocious toddler with a love for adventure and exploration, she would find the time spent expanded exponentially.

I would implore Dublin City Council chief executive Owen Keegan, therefore, to concentrate his attention on funding and streamlining public transport in the city and leaving the bicycles for the weekend and the Wicklow Mountains.

If he won’t, I would then implore Dublin City Council to find someone who will. It is to Dublin City Council that Mr Keegan must answer, after all. – Is mise,



Dublin 7.