College Green plaza 'just too dangerous for blind'
Plans for a new civic plaza at College Green have been described as "just too dangerous for people with impaired vision".
Dublin City Council is planning a major and controversial change to the area, which would significantly affect traffic routes around the south city.
The scheme would see traffic restricted and bigger pedestrian areas and cycle lanes - but plans have been strongly criticised by groups representing the blind, in submissions to An Bord Pleanála.
The National Council for the Blind Ireland, whose patron is President Michael D Higgins, issued a submission saying pedestrianisation would be welcome in an area it describes as "congested". But it says this must be done in a way which doesn't put people at risk.
It hit out at a lack of kerbing to separate the pedestrians from trams, cyclists and traffic.
"People with impaired vision need a kerb between the pedestrianised area and the area where trams, cyclists and buses will operate. Currently, tram lines for the Luas Cross City run along the upper boundary of the area where the pedestrian plaza is planned.
"In the plans, it is proposed to also have a cycle track and bus lane following the same route. The plans propose that tactile paving will be provided in place of a kerb, between this area where traffic will run, and the pedestrian plaza.
"NCBI considers that this is just too dangerous for people with impaired vision. If a person with impaired vision does not detect the tactile paving, he or she will be at risk of being struck by fast cyclists on the cycle lane, or by a tram, or by a bus.
"Nothing should take precedence over pedestrian safety," it added.
The Council for the Blind also said that cyclists breaking red lights could pose a safety threat.
Separately, a member of the Blind Legal Alliance who lives in Dublin 8 entered a submission also criticising the proposed plan. He is critical of two cycle lanes and their interaction with pedestrian traffic in the area.
Dublin Bus questioned the potential effect on journey times, saying that if faced with reduced convenience, customers will be reticent to use the bus for leisure or optional trips.
Among other groups critical of the plans are Dublin Chamber, retailers such as Arnotts, Brown Thomas, and Jervis Street Centre, taxi drivers, the Restaurants Association of Ireland, and the Irish Hotels Federation.