Businesses push for pedestrian street trial in Dublin 2

South William Street

Businesses in the area west of Dublin’s Grafton Street are calling for extra pedestrian streets to give visitors the “Covent Garden experience.”

Dublin City councillors are set to be asked to approve a four to six month trial to remove traffic from South William Street (pictured above), Drury Street, Dame Court and Dame Lane (see map below).

If the proposal is given the green light by the council, motorised traffic and on-street parking will be removed from the streets. Access routes, however, would be maintained to all of the car parks in the area between Grafton Street and Great George’s Street.

The proposed pedestrian streets are also planned to be accessible to cyclists at all times but priority is held by pedestrians.

Lord mayor of Dublin City, councillor Andrew Montague (Labour), said “It’s got great potential, and it is well worth trying it out.”

Montague said: “We need to get the message across that we are not closing the area off to traffic… people can come, drive in, and park. There’s six large car parks in the area and they will be kept accessible.”

Philip O’Donoghue, who is leading the campaign for the extra pedestrian streets, said it would give visitors to the area the “Covent Garden experience”.

Dame Lane, the smaller of the four streets proposed to be pedestrianised

He claims that between 80% and 90% of businesses in the area support the trial.

“About 90% of businesses I’ve spoken to, and BIDs [Dublin City Business Improvement District] have said around 80% they have spoken to are in favour of the proposals,” said O’Donoghue.

O’Donoghue said it was about “improving the experience” of an already vibrant area, which includes a mix of restaurants, cafes, bars, and generally smaller retailers than on the nearby Grafton Street.

The area was recently branded as “Dublin’s Creative Quarter” and described as “a hub of innovation which hosts an exceptional array of designer boutiques, creative businesses and plenty more.”

Those backing the trial are hopeful it could get going as soon as July and last at least until October before it is re-evaluated. The trial is not planned to include any new paving or resurfacing.

“It looks like it is likely we will get a trial. The advantage is there is very little cost to put it in place or to reverse it if needed,” said O’Donoghue.

Montague agreed that the “overwhelming majority” of businesses support the plan, but added that details raised by businesses, such as having clear signage, need to be done correctly.

“The trial needs to be at the right time of the year so it takes in a quieter time and a busier time in the autumn. Christmas is so important for retail, we only want it in places for Christmas if it is working,” said Montague.

“You need to be flexible if there are issues, you can’t be overly dogmatic,” he said.

The current proposals are scaled back from the original plan which had included making more streets in the area pedestrian-only. O’Donoghue says the modifications are based on feedback from businesses, councillors and traffic engineers.

The high level of support from most businesses in the area can be seen as unusual compared to such proposals making headlines for opposition from traders. Grafton Street’s pedestrianisation was delayed by over 16 years after traffic-centred complaints from retailers and others.

In recent years pedestrian schemes in Dun Laoghaire and Sligo town were reversed, although Sligo council are due to re-pedestrianise the town’s O’Connell Street.

Pedestrianisation has proven to be highly popular in Dublin City Centre in the areas around both Grafton Street and Henry Street, as well as in Temple Bar and in the Docklands. Pedestrian streets in Galway City and Wexford are also seen as highly successful.

STREET VIEW: South William StreetDrury StreetDame Court; Dame Lane

MORE: Dublin2Walk campaign on Facebook
MORE: Expanded D2 pedestrian zone gains support

View South William Street area in a larger map

IMAGES:  Main image of South William Street AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by infomatique. Other images and graphics by Dublin Observer.

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