by Feargus O’Sullivan: Last week, the city council unveiled a plan to banish cars from key sections of the congested city center by 2017…
Dublin is on the brink of becoming one of the most pedestrian-friendly capital cities in all of Europe. Last week, the city unveiled a €150 million ($168.5 million) plan to banish cars from key sections of the city center by 2017. If the plan passes its public consultation on July 16th, major hubs will be pedestrianized while other key streets will allow only public transit and deliveries. It’s a radical turnaround for a city whose reputation for appalling traffic saw it named the 10th most congested in the world last year.
According to figures released by Dublin’s city council, the city center is the arrival and departure point of 192,000 journeys every weekday, 33 percent of which still take place by car. The streets weren’t designed with cars in mind, so the daily influx leaves roads clogged and air noxious and soupy. Left unchecked, the situation stands to get even worse. Ireland’s economic recovery is set to concentrate yet more activity within Central Dublin, and the city council predicts an extra 42,000 journeys every day by 2023. Should the same proportion of commuters arrive by car as now, that would mean almost 14,000 extra car journeys daily, a huge number for a city that contains barely more than 500,000 residents within its city limits.
Given this degree of congestion, the car-free revamp is something central Dublin absolutely needs. Its dense, congested knot of historical streets could easily be wonderful if it didn’t seem so harried by traffic. Now some of the most beautiful corners in the city will get the sense of space and ease they need to blossom.