Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Private car use in Dublin city rises

The number of cars in Dublin city rose last year, according to figures from Dublin City Council.

The Canal Cordon Count, which monitors the number of vehicles crossing into the cordon formed by the Royal and Grand canals around the city during peak morning hours, found more private cars came into the city centre in 2008 than the previous year, representing rise of close to 0.4 per cent.

This is despite an increase in the number of buses during the same period.

However, over a 10-year period, the number of cars coming into the city fell. In 1998, more than 71,000 cars crossed the canal cordon, compared to almost 63,976 in 2008.

Cycling was also on the rise, with 8 per cent more people choosing to cycle in the peak morning hours in 2008 than a year earlier. This follows general upward trends in recent years, with a 30 per cent increase over the five year period 2003 to 2008, and a 34 per cent rise over the 10 years to 2008.

Dublin City Council cycling officer, Ciarán Fallon, welcomed the rise in the number of those cycling in the city during morning peak hours.

"We have a lot of work to do to improve cycling conditions in the city but these numbers are encouraging," he said.

"Over a third of commuting journeys into the canal cordon area are less than 5km long. Most people can cover this distance by bike in about 20 minutes. There is great potential to grow walking and cycling numbers in Dublin City in the coming years."

Mr Fallon said the increase in people cycling could be attributed to the reduction in the number of heavy goods vehicles in the city centre.

Since the introduction of a ban on some heavy goods vehicles in the city centre, the number of commercial vehicles crossing the canal cordon during morning peak hours has fallen 54 per cent between 2003 and 2008.

The number of pedestrians crossing into the city centre fell 1 per cent on last year's figures.

Between 2003 and 2008, Dublin Bus accounted for a daily average of 80 per cent of the buses that crossed into the city centre. During that time, the number of buses from the company rose 17 per cent, while independently operated services rose 13 per cent.

In the 12-month period to 2008, 11 per cent more Dublin Bus vehicles were recorded in the city centre, but independent services fell 17 per cent.

Fine Gael Seanad transport spokesman Senator Paschal Donohoe said the Government’s attempts at encouraging public transport use had "clearly failed".

"The city is now grinding to a halt, with further chaos likely if the bus strike goes ahead. Traffic congestion is

strangling the city’s commercial and social life. Congestion is costing Dublin’s businesses at least €650 million a year," he said.

“We need simple and effective steps to get the city moving again in the short term, especially if work on Metro North gets underway."

He called for new bus routes to be opened up in areas with growing populations, the extension of the city's co-ordinated traffic light system and the roll-out of the live information system for Dublin Bus.

He also suggested that the new Dublin transport authority should be fast-tracked to allow for centralised planning and traffic management.

“As a city already suffering from serious congestion, Dublin simply cannot afford for further rises in car use," Mr Donohoe said.

Green Party transport spokesman Ciarán Cuffe said the increase in cyclist numbers was welcome, but said radical reform of bus services and traffic management in Dublin city was needed.

"The next step must be the creation of a network of safe cycle routes all across the city. Many people are afraid to cycle in traffic because of the fear of being struck by a lorry or car. I also want the gardaí to apply more

resources to enforcing the speed limits, as speeding cars are a danger to vulnerable road users," he said.

Mr Cuffe called on Fine Gael to support the proposals for the provision of a bus gate at College Green

Dublin city councillors are due to vote on the plan, will create a public-transport-only route from Dame Street across College Green to Westmoreland Street, with restrictions for traffic coming from D’Olier Street around College Green and into Dame Street.

"Fine Gael cannot call for improvements in public transport while their own councillors oppose the bus gate proposal," he said.

Irish Times

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