Local democracy and restricting cars

Sir, – Michael McDowell is quite wrong to argue that Owen Keegan has no mandate to restrict cars in Dublin ("Council chief has no mandate for 'aggressive' plan to restrict cars in Dublin city", Opinion & Analysis, March 31st).

Dublin City Council long ago recognised the obvious. Restricting private car use and developing cycling infrastructure are necessary parts of our response to climate change.

For example, Policy MT2 of the Dublin City Development Plan adopted in 2016 provides for “modal shift from private car use towards increased use of more sustainable forms of transport such as cycling, walking and public transport”. The National Transport Authority’s transport strategy for the Greater Dublin Area has equivalent provision. The latest (2018) Progress Report on DCC’s Plan noted that “car usage continues to decline” in line with policy. The draft Dublin City Development Plan 2022-2028 provides that trips in private vehicles will be restricted dramatically, from 29 per cent to 17 per cent of total (Objective SMT01).

So, our elected council has determined, by democratic process, to manage a rapid, important shift away from private cars; and I say they were not “sheepishly led” to that particular conclusion. The council’s executive, including Mr Keegan, are entitled to our support in getting on with this urgent work. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.

Sir, – The last census reported that nearly 25 per cent of households in Ireland do not own a car (CSO, 2016).

In Senator Michael McDowell’s own Dublin city, this rises to over a third of households.

Does the Senator not see people “bringing toddlers to and from creches and doing the weekly shop” without cars from his doorstep? Or does the windscreen restrict his view? – Yours, etc,




Sir, – Michael Mr McDowell questions Owen Keegan’s mandate to pursue this issue. He points out that policy on the place of cars in our capital is a matter for elected representatives.

That may well be correct but surely Mr McDowell knows well that nothing will change and no workable initiative on reducing the volume of cars in our city will emerge if we leave it up to our public representatives.

In my view, we need people like Owen Keegan to lead on this issue and to put forward bold ideas for consideration and discussion.

On your bike, Mr McDowell. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 4.

Sir, – Senator McDowell should consider the proportion of elderly or disabled persons who do not drive, children unable to walk or cycle to school due to the danger of cars, and the 33 per cent of households in Dublin who do not own a car.

More people transverse Dublin’s canals daily by bicycle, foot and public transport than by car. Why should the majority suffer the noisy, polluted, dangerous environment created by cars in favour of a minority of mostly single-occupancy vehicles moving at a snail’s pace? – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6W.

Sir, – Michael McDowell asserts that “much of our present road congestion is a consequence of the favouring of pedestrians and bike lanes”. While there are merits to the discussion of the decision-making process of Dublin City Council, conversations around space allocation on our streets is not helped by The Irish Times permitting baseless claims like this to be published.

What few bicycle lanes there are in Dublin do not cause congestion; an excess of cars causes congestion. Even where there are bicycle lanes, they are largely shared with bus lanes or are so narrow that they have only taken the hard shoulder of certain roads and have not reduced the number of lanes of traffic at all. Dublin is physically too small to accommodate for everyone choosing to use the most inefficient means of transport there is.

The arrogance of demanding a reduction in pedestrians in return for roads does nothing to serve his argument either, not least due to the existing narrow footpaths on many of Dublin’s streets, the few existing pedestrianised streets and the overwhelming demand for increased pedestrianisation, as evidenced by the council’s survey of citizens regarding Capel Street last year. – Is mise,


Dublin 7.

Sir, – In suggesting that Dublin City Council (DCC) operates without a mandate, Senator McDowell would do well to examine the Government’s transport agenda or the National Transport Authority strategy. Both recommend a major shift toward public and active transport. The same is reflected in Opposition party agendas.

The DCC is simply implementing the programme of the elected Government.

The irony regarding mandates appears lost on the Senator, who was elected to the Seanad on the 28th count, from a voting electorate representing 1 per cent of the population. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 8.

Sir , – There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Most European cities already have solutions to congested city centres figured out; it is our city planning departments who don’t. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 6.

Sir, – Another excellent midweek opinion piece from Michael McDowell. It could, however, have been a lot shorter. “Owen Keegan has no mandate” would have sufficed.

The system of governance of our capital city is not fit for purpose in the 21st century. We desperately need a directly elected mayor, and proper accountability. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 6.