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Thursday 14 November 2019

Saving trees and gardens could see drivers squeezed out like this

An artist’s impression of how Rathgar Road could look under a proposed one-way system that would save a number of trees and gardens on the route
An artist’s impression of how Rathgar Road could look under a proposed one-way system that would save a number of trees and gardens on the route
The plan, which also aims to stop car traffic crossing the Grand Canal from Rathmines, was put forward to residents living along the proposed Rathfarnham Bus Corridor in an effort to allay concerns over losing trees and gardens under the Bus Connects plan. Photo: Irish Independent

Car drivers making their daily journey from the southside into the city could face extra commuting pain under plans to make Rathgar Road a one-way system.

The plan, which also aims to stop car traffic crossing the Grand Canal from Rathmines, was put forward to residents living along the proposed Rathfarnham Bus Corridor in an effort to allay concerns over losing trees and gardens under the Bus Connects plan.

The ambitious and controversial €2bn plan aims to make public transport faster and more efficient, as well as persuading car commuters to make the switch to buses to save time, reduce congestion and improve the environment.

Under the Bus Connects plan, 16 dedicated bus corridors would radiate out from the city centre to suburbs all around Dublin.

Success

In order to make it a success the National Transport Authority (NTA), which is overseeing the Bus Connects plan, proposed cutting down hundreds of trees and eating into some gardens so roads could be widened to accommodate bus lanes, car lanes and cycle lanes.

However, a massive backlash resulted in 10,000 submissions from the public, many from people who opposed the loss of trees and gardens.

Bus Connects has come back to many communities to show them updates of its plans, and while they are not yet set in stone, they indicate some of the changes it is proposing.

Yesterday evening, Rathfarnham residents were shown revised plans of the bus corridor that would bring them into the city.

In order to save trees and gardens on the road that links Rathgar to Rathmines it is proposed to make the road one-way for cars travelling toward the city centre.

Cars that do drive through Rathmines would then meet a 'bus gate' which would not allow them to cross the Grand Canal, and they would be forced to go via Ranelagh Road or Harold's Cross.

Car traffic that travels from the city through Rathmines and Rathgar would be diverted through Ranelagh instead.

Bus Connects has also proposed alternative cycle routes along the corridor that aim to take bike riders away from traffic where possible.

One such proposal would take the planned cycle route off the Rathfarnham Road and bring it along the banks of the River Dodder instead, far away from vehicular traffic.

Doing this would also mean that Rathfarnham Road would not have to be widened as much as previously suggested, saving valuable garden space in the process.

Opposition

Rathfarnham Road residents were very vocal in their opposition to having sections of their gardens taken away, saying they would be left with short, steep driveways leading to a wider road with more traffic.

Lobby groups for Dublin residents, commuters, cyclists and environmentalists all agree changes are needed to keep people moving at morning and evening peak times.

However, striking a balance between change and maintaining the look and character of streets and communities in the city and outlying areas has proved a difficult task for Bus Connects and the NTA.

They say that if you leave the car and take the bus you will be given priority via dedicated bus lanes and bus-biased traffic lights to get to your destination quicker.

The Bus Connects plan will also mean physical restrictions on the road for car drivers by the use of bus gates and one-way systems.

Two-thirds of commuters are now using sustainable modes of transport to access Dublin city and the NTA and Bus Connects want the road space dedicated to those people to reflect that statistic.

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