herald

Sunday 22 April 2018

Car-free Sundays to be rolled out once a month in city centre

PLANS for a city centre car free day will be rolled out next spring, the Herald can exclusively reveal.

Lord Mayor Oisin Quinn revealed the capital will be a no-go zone for drivers on one Sunday a month.

City centre streets will be closed to traffic from 11am to 5pm in the plan which aims to increase footfall in shops and encourage people to use the capital as a pedestrianised area.

Mayor Quinn said: "It's being launched on one Sunday a month and if it's successful it'll be extended."

He pointed out that it was not a move designed to frustrate drivers but rather to encourage people to enjoy the city centre as a recreational space.

The Mayor also told the Herald that the city bike scheme is set to triple with 1,500 bikes on the road by the time the car-free operation is in place.

Seeing the scheme operating in French cities, Mayor Quinn undertook research and proposed the idea to new city manager Owen Keegan who was also in favour.

And he was quick to highlight that other cities have enjoyed "increased footfall" and a "retail lift" thanks to the scheme.

Mr Quinn added: "It will have the added advantage of allowing us to let pop-up stalls go in (to the city centre) such as selling home-grown herbs and things like bike repairs."

CONSTRUCTIVE

The road closures won't start until 11am to allow people to get work and deliveries to get in and will be lifted at 5pm to facilitate staff going home.

One proposed zone will take in St Stephen's Green, College Green, Dawson Street and South Great George's Street.

In a similar way that big events like marathons are organised, local roads will be closed with temporary barriers in place and a guard or marshal standing by. They will also look to provide designated routes into car parks. When the bus-gate scheme at College Green was proposed car park owners campaigned against it.

But with businesses responding positively to the new plan Mayor Quinn can't see any major arguments against.

However, AA Roadwatch's Conor Faughnan isn't too keen on the idea and he sees the "primary motivation" as an anti-car one.

The scheme did exist before but "faded away ultimately because it wasn't doing any good for anybody," Mr Faughnan told the Herald.

He doesn't think it will cause too much harm because it's on a Sunday but believes a free public transport day would be "much more constructive".

In the Colombian city of Bogota where the idea originated, the scheme has been a resounding success with more than one million people participating on a weekly basis.

hnews@herald.ie

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