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Saturday 23 September 2017

'New traffic management plans will make it impossible to drive on certain city streets' - Keegan

Owen Keegan says new traffic plans will come into force by the end of 2017 Picture: Arthur Carron/Collins
Owen Keegan says new traffic plans will come into force by the end of 2017 Picture: Arthur Carron/Collins

The capital's notorious traffic problems will not be solved overnight - but new traffic management plans will help take cars off the streets, Dublin City Council boss Owen Keegan has said.

The head of the country's largest local authority believes plans due to come into force by the end of next year, when Luas Cross City begins operations, would effectively act as a congestion charge in Dublin.

Mr Keegan also told the Herald a ban on private cars accessing parts of the city centre including College Green, a two-way cycle path on the north quays will also allow for more bus priority and make it easier to get around on foot.

Quality

"The vast majority of businesses have worked very pro-actively with us. Most get that it's not about getting into the city - it's the quality of the environment once you get here," he said.

"Increasingly, the private car as a commuting option is going to be squeezed out.

"I'd be much more in favour of model change by charging, but we can't do that and it's not on the agenda.

"Effectively we're imposing a congestion charge of infinity by making it impossible to access certain streets."

Mr Keegan says there will be a "noticeable improvement" with Luas linking the north and south sides, more people using Dublin bikes and more walking.

But he believes that more measures are needed, such as additional capacity on bus and rail. This will be difficult though due to limited financial resources. Mr Keegan also said that more cycle paths are needed which will require "difficult choices" in terms of traffic movements, and measures to encourage cyclists.

Enthusiast

"If you look at the high-quality segregated cycle lanes in place on the canals, they're congested. Where you provide good quality, you get the committed enthusiast and 'ordinary' people," he said.

"Difficult choices will have to be made. The north quays was key in that. We looked at all kinds of options. We decided to bite the bullet and give priority to buses, cycling and a really good walking environment.

"We could have significant traffic calming so that the levels are such that cyclists feel comfortable and safe. There are cities which are so traffic calmed it works. I would, absolutely (see the cycle path being extended to the IFSC).

"A constant issue raised is the poor behaviour of cyclists.

"As someone who cycles, I see it every day. Whatever about cyclists putting themselves in danger, they have a huge disregard for pedestrians. The lack of mutual respect among all road users is a problem."

Mr Keegan also said that extensive work is needed around the city that is expected to cost around €100m.

This money will be put toward the redevelopment of the Smithfield fruit market, which was shelved during the recession, replacement of pavement on heavily-trafficked streets, improved parks and a new library on Parnell Square.

Relationship

He says there is a "good relationship" between councillors and management, despite disagreements. But he is disappointed elected members won't allow for high-rise buildings in the city, which he says would result in more affordable housing.

"I'd like councillors to be far more adventurous on height," he said.

"That's one area I'm disappointed in. We need to go higher. I would have liked the members to be more ambitious, and we have made some progress, but not as far as we need to go.

"That reflects the fact there is huge unease on height and density. I think there has been a failure on the part of the executive to sell this and get popular backing."

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