City gears up for summer of traffic changes as €3m Liffey cycle lane plans are unveiled
Dublin City Council could spend up to €3m on a proposed boardwalk cycle lane on a 600-metre stretch of the Liffey.
The plan is part of major traffic changes in the city centre aimed at eliminating one of the capital's notorious congestion blackspots.
Officials plan to ban private cars from taking right-hand turns on to O'Connell Bridge from Bachelors Walk from August.
Public transport will also be given priority on the North Quays.
However, cars will still be all-owed to use Eden Quay, after plans to make it public-transport only were rejected.
The council is also proposing to build a boardwalk from James Joyce Bridge to Arran Quay to facilitate a two-way cycle lane, which will be completely separate from road traffic.
The boardwalk, which will cost between €2.5m and €3m and run for around 600 metres on the North Quays above the River Liffey, is needed because the road is not wide enough to allow general traffic, bus lanes and cyclists to travel into the city.
Proposals to eliminate all private cars from that section of the quays were shot down.
The council has secured permission from its transport committee to conduct studies on developing the cycling boardwalk and set out the impacts on traffic volumes and the environment in the area. It will report back by October.
Approval was given at the transport committee meeting, which also discussed far-reaching changes to traffic flows needed to facilitate Luas Cross City, which is set to open later this year.
A tram will run across the Rosie Hackett Bridge every three minutes.
The council's head of technical services, Brendan O'Brien, told the committee that while there was a recognition that traffic arrangements in the capital needed to be changed, there was marked opposition from traders and businesses to a complete ban on private cars from Eden Quay, as previously proposed.
He said it was important to remember that any delays in the city centre impacted on bus passengers waiting for a service across the city.
Banning cars would have removed the "number one" public transport blackspot in the capital, Mr O'Brien said, adding that "considerable opposition" has been received from business groups, including car park owners who claimed that access will be restricted.
Keith Gavin, from the Irish Parking Association, said there was a "huge number of groups" with "grave concerns" about the plans, and there was "nothing to say" that the proposed ban on Eden Quay would not proceed at a later date. The business group continued to oppose the plans.
Independent councillor Mannix Flynn said he expected the plans to be subject to judicial review.
Green Party councillor Ciaran Cuffe, who chairs the committee, said he was concerned that unless car volumes in the city fall, the entire North Quays could be gridlocked.
"I think a tram with 300 or 400 people on it should have more rights to move than a car with one person," he said.
The council says around 600 cars use Bachelors Walk every hour during the morning and evening peak periods.
Each car carried an average of 1.2 people, meaning that between 700 and 750 people were accommodated.
Conversely, around 120 buses an hour used Bachelors Walk, accommodating between 6,000 and 7,000 people.