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Kilmainham Residents Concerned Over Connects Changes

Kilmainham Residents Concerned Over Connects Changes By: Aidan Crowley.

Concerns have been expressed by some Kilmainham residents about the introduction
of a BusConnects corridor, which is due to include the route along Old Kilmainham,
Mount Brown and James’s Street. Local residents and councillors say that the changes being proposed will make this stretch of road, known as the Low Road, even less appealing for drivers than it is at
present, pushing more traffic onto Kilmainham Lane, known as the High Road.
At present, many drivers use Kilmainham Lane as a way of bypassing the congested
low road, which is nearly always clogged-up with traffic at peak hours, especially on
midweek evenings.

This has been a thorny issue in the locality for some time, with many residents
expressing genuine concerns about the knock-on effect of the proposed changes. It
has been suggested that Kilmainham Lane should adopt a one-way traffic system.
However, this suggestion was rejected, late last year, by Dublin City Council (DCC)
executive engineer, Neil O’ Donoghue, on a number of grounds.

According to O’ Donoghue, having a two-way traffic system along the lane actually
“helps slow the speeds down on the road at present”.To adopt a one-way system in Kilmainham Lane, or to open it up to more cyclists and pedestrians, by shutting-out through traffic by cars altogether, would require a broad
public consultation with “all the people and businesses in the area, including the
Gardai, as well”, he said at the time.

At a recent DCC South Central Area Committee meeting, local Sinn Fein Councillor,
Maire Devine, said that “It’s like they’re too busy with all the other changes
happening around the city and they’ll deal with it when it gets unbearable”.
The National Transport Authority (NTA), which proposed this BusConnects corridor,
approved last December, said as part of its planning application that it “will not result
in additional trip .generation on the surrounding road network”.

The An Bord Pleanala approved plan includes “a substantial increase in the level of
bus priority provided along the corridor, including the provision of additional lengths
of bus lane, resulting in improved journey time reliability”, according to a description
in the planning application.

Footpaths and cycle lanes will also be upgraded along the route, according to the
document. However, the board’s inspector, reviewing the scheme, was critical of the
design’s lack of ambition when it came to cycle lanes.
“Cyclists take up little room, yet only 68% of the route in both directions has
segregated cycle tracks”, he said in his report. “There are no segregated cycle tracks along Sarsfield Road, Grattan Crescent, Emmet Road, Old Kilmainham, Mount Brown and parts of James’s Street”, he added.

The reason for that is that along Old Kilmainham and Mount Brown the roadway is
too narrow, with buildings on either side which block expansion, according to his
report. Therefore, not only will be there be no segregated cycle tracks through this section,
but a so-called “bus gate” will also have to be employed, to keep bus traffic flowing
through that corridor and try to keep it getting ensnared in private vehicle traffic.
“A ‘bus gate’ is a short length of road that is exclusive to buses, taxis, cyclists and
emergency vehicles”, according to the board inspector’s report.

In this instance, the “bus gate” would consist of a complicated system of restrictions,
blocking cars from driving along a particular segment, going eastbound in the
mornings and going westbound in the evenings. “General traffic is directed by signage to divert in other directions”, says the report. “This will push more through traffic onto the Kilmainham Lane-Bow Lane corridor.
It’s a crazy situation. It’s quite lethal for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists. It’s crazy,
it’s back-to-back, it’s fighting over small territory”, said Devine at a DCC South
Central Area Committee meeting, last October.

She added that her understanding was that there were some longstanding requests for
the council to convert Kilmainham Lane into a one-way traffic system. “It is not
suitable for two lanes of traffic to easily pass by”, she said.
While some local residents firmly believe that these changes will result in increased
traffic on Kilmainham Lane, the NTA’s Transport Impact Assessment Report, part of
its planning application for the scheme, says it won’t.

Instead, “it will reduce general traffic volumes due to the projected modal shift from
car to sustainable modes of transport, given the proposed implemantion of improved
bus, cycle and walking facilities along the direct study area”, according to the report.
So far, it is unclear when construction may begin or how long it will take, but it is
likely to be a number of years before the traffic flow changes are implemented.
In his report, the An Bord Pleanala inspector expresses concerns about the potential
for success of the new bus corridor’s design, running from Emmet Road in Inchicore
to James’s Street in the Liberties.

Buses will, inevitably, be squeezed in with private vehicle traffic, cyclists and
pedestrians, which may result in them being jammed together, stacked up and delayed
through this section of the corridor, even following the implementation of the
changes. A significant suggestion made by the board inspector in his report, was to create more
space along the Low Road. He proposed making it into one-way traffic system in one
direction, while making the High Road, along Inchicore Road, Kilmainham Lane and
Bow Lane West into a one-way traffic route in the other direction.

“The re-allocated general traffic lane could then be used to free-up pinch points along
the CBC (core bus corridor) for a higher standard of bus lane, cycle track, wider
footpaths, shorter pedestrian crossing distances and improved public realm”, he said.

In the end, An Bord Pleanala didn’t implement this suggestion, approving the
planning application, without making this change a pre-condition.
It looks as though Kilmainham Lane will remain the same as it is for the time being,
retaining its unique “country lane in the city” ambience. However, this does little to
allay the fears of that cohort of local residents and councillors, who believe that its
days could be numbered, if the proposed BusConnects corridor changes eventually
come to fruition, resulting in increased heavy traffic congestion along this leafy

// impact-assessment-tia.pdf

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