Option 7 will divert traffic away from the quays, so where will the traffic go? When traffic reduction is talked about, it’s often treated with denial and scepticism, but it isn’t just theory.
Traffic reduction is already taking place in Dublin — the number of cars entering the canals at peak times is down from 90,000 in 1997 to 65,000 in 2016. This is a success story as the total number of commuters entering the city centre has increased in the same time from nearly 180,000 to over 200,000. More and more people are using sustainable transport.
Traffic reduction on the quays is a local and stark example of the effect: In 2014 there was around 500 private motorists per hour at peak hours, but by 2016 this had declined to under 400 per hour on Ellis Quay. These statistics are from Dublin City Council:
With the arrival of the Luas Cross City, the new bus lanes planned on the quays, and the Liffey Cycle Route, the numbers of people driving in the city centre is only going to be reduced further.
While a former TD has warned of a “tsunami of traffic destroying the fabric of the area”, this narrative is unfounded. Some of the same objectors also objected to a quay-side park in an earlier proposal, but central to the latest local objects is the idea that all the traffic will be routed around the north fringes of Smithfield.
In a report to the city transport committee, council officials said that noise and environmental modelling work to date has not shown any significant issues with Option 7. This might be surprising, but traffic reduction can play an even greater role.
The main group of people who will be affected by the proposal is motorists — those who can will have to change their ways. Inside the canals is after all an area with very low car ownership by residents and most people commuting to locals inside the canals already do so by sustainable transport.
In most of the city centre area between the canals between 50-80% of households have no cars (a notable northside exception to this is a large chunk of Stoneybatter).
KEY: Dark blue: ~50-80% households with zero cars | Light blue~30-50% households with zero cars | Light green: ~20-30% households with zero cars | Bright green: Less than 20% households with zero cars (Data source: CSO Census data)
The claims from local councillors just don’t add up and if they really wanted to reduce the effects of car traffic around this area they would be calling on the Blancharstown to UCD bus rapid transport (BRT) project to be fast tracked and given strong priority. Although, even a watered-down BRT route will cut space and traffic light time for private car use.
Overall, the Liffey Cycle Route Option 7 would be a traffic-reducing project which also offers an attractive alternative by making cycling safe along the quays and Option 7 keep good priority for buses — both of these are not true for Option 8.