Fresh thinking required as efforts to tackle gridlock at a crossroads
At what point does the Government need to take action to reduce congestion in our capital city?
Is it when a proposal like College Green is rejected? When air quality becomes so poor that people start suing the State? When commuters wonder if they'll be sleeping in their car as the city grinds to a halt?
The decision to reject the pedestrian plaza is an opportunity lost. It could be one of the nicest parts of the city, but instead is a morass of cars, buses, bikes, trams and pedestrians, all vying for what little space is available.
The concern around traffic across the city is well founded, but Dublin is not blessed with a surfeit of road space.
Any changes anywhere, on any street, will have knock-on implications.
So what to do?
Clearly, more money is needed for public transport but given that takes time to come on stream, perhaps more radical thinking is needed in the short-term.
Maybe consideration should be given to staggering working hours in both the public and private sectors, allowing workers to travel in and out of work by bus, train or tram, in comfort, outside of peak times, leaving the car at home.
There are tens of thousands of workers in the city who remain in an office block, or within close proximity to one, for most of the day. Do they need access to a car during working hours? Is there an impediment to them using public transport? And if not, perhaps a €20 daily congestion charge might drive a change in mindset.
It is hoped the council will come back with a revised plan for College Green, but it doesn't alter the fact that congestion isn't confined to that one corner of the city. We are a long time talking about tackling our gridlock problem, but the problem just gets worse. We are at a crossroads. As the economy recovers, more cars will arrive on our roads. What to do with them is the question.