01 December, 2008

Traffic News from Dún Laoghaire

Changes are on the way to Georges Street in Dún Laoghaire. From Monday 8th December car traffic is going to be allowed back down Georges Street. Currently only buses are allowed down the street.

I think this is a step backwards, and I'd be happier if if the street was completely traffic free for most of the day. However the councillors (with the exception of the Green Party) voted a few months ago to allow cars back on to the main street of the town.

There will be a review after eighteen months, but I suspect that once cars are allowed back again onto the main street it'll be hard to remove them.

It's a tough retail environment in Dún Laoghaire. Many people head off into Dublin to do their shopping, and lots more head to the cathedral of retail that is Dundrum Shopping Centre. That, combined with the aging demographics on the eastern side of the County puts pressure on all the businesses in Dún Laoghaire. Some shops haven't had a face-lift in a long time, and could do with some work; at least to replace missing letters on their shop-signs.

Traders in the two shopping centres, Bloomfields and the old Dún Laoghaire Shopping Centre are doing their best, but the buildings suffer from design challenges. Despite the recent refurbishment the old Shopping Centre is not the most pleasant of buildings. It presents a lot of blank brick frontage to the street, and belongs to a period when insufficient attention was paid to making buildings relate to their surroundings. Personally I'd be happy to send in the wrecking ball and start again, but realistically I don't feel this is a runner. Had it been designed differently we could have had a magnificent window facing the harbour, and the building could have been filled with sunlight. Maybe the owners might considering opening up windows to some of the shops on the outside walls, and perhaps putting apartments on top, so as to attract more life to the streets after dark. I feel the town should develop more specialist retail, that would attract more tourists to spend time in the town when they arrive from Wales, instead of heading straight for the M50.

Patrick Street in Dún Laoghaire is one of my all-time favourite streets though. All of human life is there, and there's an amazing moment at 11.45 every morning when the HSS Ferry suddenly appears in the distance, heading out to sea beyond the East Pier. Businesses on the street sell everything from pizza to memory chips, and if it wasn't for the occasional SUV parking on the footpath, it would win any prize going.

The turning on of the Christmas lights was a great occasion. The Dún Laoghaire Business Association had a parade around the town, and a stunning fireworks display at the Harbour Plaza, Around five hundred people waited in the cold for Santa, who arrived on the HSS Ferry from Holyhead. Peter Caviston also appeared on his messenger boy bicycle, and threw dead ducks at the crowd. Depending on which side of the meat-eater / vegetarian divide that you occupied this either horrified you or had you licking your lips. Refreshments were served afterwards, and the event brought hundreds of people into town for the start of the Christmas rush. It's a difficult time for retailers, and the more people that can be persuaded to shop locally, the better it will be for the County.

I still don't feel that allowing cars back on Georges Street is the right idea. We must be one of the few towns in Europe allowing cars back into a pedestrianised area.

5 comments:

Danny McHugh said...

Ciaran,
When are you and your party going to stop the charade you are currently involved in with your FF masters.Courtesy restricts me from actually expressing my angst, but surely a Party such as yours, that does admittedly, have some international credit in foreign climes, must finally admit that the game is up.

You relate in your post that the reintroduction of cars into your locality would be a retrograde step, yet now it is revealed, that your Govt. partners will reduce the numbers of trips by public and more energy efficient transport,both internally in Dublin and beyond the Pale in the coming year.

Your colleague, Noel Dempsey, has stated that these cuts will occur in off-peak times. No doubt primed correctly to inflict more pain on the young, the elderly and those with special needs that currently cannot avail of buses and public transport at more frequent times, either through restriction by travel pass regulation or mobility.

The inconveinience of the general public though, if that is not cause enough for concern,well then the increased emissions, the increased traffic flows, the ongoing monetary costs associated with all the above should be.

You personally, through your own little microcosm of Dec 1 2008, describe an idyllic view of Dun Laoghaire and regret the fact that only the Green Party opposed this reintroduction. I say 'now, Ciaran 'put your money and your ethics and ideals on the Dail floor and object'. Or as it would appear in your post, do you really only object to traffic in Dun Laoghaire where you have bus, rail and sea-transport. After all, the Green Party do object to flight.

Your Party, through its inaction most recently, has displayed its unconcern with the welfare of people on the extremities of Society, however I would have thought that even through 'selfishness for One's own Ideals', some objection, some 'No', would have been heard, unfortunately and most alarmingly, repeatedly the same sounds of silence are echoing from your Party.

At this stage now Ciaran, I personally do not blame FF.I blame the Green Party. It is the price that is paid by those who 'prostitute' themselves to FF and like the PDs before you and Labour to a lesser extent, you and your Party will pay at the next Election, be they Local, General, or European.

In defence, you may state that this post is rather premature, rather early, considering that this announcement has just been aired, however, I would contest that Trade Unions, and an Opposition Party could make a statement,or perhaps, maybe you genuinely did not know, perhaps your Govt. colleagues in FF. casually dismissed the views and ideals of a Party such as yours.

Do the honourable thing, and at least if your Party has not got the moral fibre to walk away from your FF shackles, at least have the morals to object to an increase in traffic. Something your Party has built into its foundation. Or is this too a Myth.

Danny McHugh,
Galway.

Ciarán said...

Danny,

No reference in your post to the state of the public finances. The books have to balance for Ireland Inc. and that requires tough decisions.

CIE more or less broke even in 2007, lost €40 million last year and are on course to lose €90 million this year unless action is taken.

I think there's huge scope for reforming the work practices and ethos within CIE, from the shop-floor to senior management. Remember the centre doors debacle in Dublin Bus that was never satisfactorily resolved?

Of course I'd like to reverse the spending on roads compared to public transport, but neither Fianna Fáil nor Fine Gael have shown any great enthusiasm for such a move.

Do I only object in Dún Laoghaire? No, of course I favour car-free areas in every town in Ireland, that's why we favour by-passes and relief routes.

On the increase in traffic issue, I'd imagine transport emissions will break even, or reduce anyway because of the recession.

Paul H said...

Ciaran

Do let us in on the 'huge scope for reforming the work practices and ethos' that could save €90m. Before you answer, you should be aware that CIE did not break even in 2007, but made a €28m surplus. It seems astounding that CIÉ's 'work practices and ethos' could change for the worse so quickly, doesn't it?

John said...

Ciaran, To quote yourself....

"On the increase in traffic issue, I'd imagine transport emissions will break even, or reduce anyway because of the recession."

What a glib statement; almost sounds like the recession is good for green issues.

John O'Connor

Ciarán said...

John,

What's good for the planet can be bad for the economy.

Green politics is about finding the right balance between economic, environmental and social issues.

Personally I feel that the green economy - in construction, energy, agriculture and transport will help pull us out of the recession.