Submission to the OPW regarding transport and the Phoenix Park
This is a submission I made to the OPW regarding the future of transport in relation to the Phoenix, submitted March 11, 2021:
My name is Bríd Smith
I am a TD and live in Ballyfermot
I tried but could not complete the on-line form which contains a menu for where one lives in the vicinity of the park.
That menu omits Dublin 10 which is an area on the doorstep of the park, includes mainly the areas of Ballyfermot and Cherryorchard and has a relatively large population.
The obvious question is why is D 10 excluded? I would like to see that changed and an explanation given.
As a public representative I welcome the proposals to improve mobility and transport in the park and would like to make the following observations and suggestions.
There should be an end to all public concerts and gigs in the park. We cannot both protect the biodiversity and environment and at the same time utilise the space for thousands of people gathering at commercial events. Insofar as the park can and should accommodate crowds, it should be for sporting events like mini marathons and walks such as Darkness into Light.
During the first lock down of the pandemic I walked in the Phoenix park everyday as it is within the 2K limit imposed by public health restrictions. The most obvious and wonderful outcome of that lockdown was the lack of traffic and the ensuing silence and clean air that we experienced for a number of weeks. This was acutely felt in the Phoenix Park where wild life was very much enhanced by the lack of traffic. It would be amazing if we could keep this going. But we cannot because this is a peoples park and we need transport and mobility around and through the entire area.
Keeping traffic through the park to a minimum is appropriate but we have to give alternatives to people, particularly to those with mobility challenges and with children.
I do not support the proposal to run a public bus service through the park that is connecting Heuston Station with Cabra. I think it would be a backward step. Instead I believe we should aspire to a frequent and plentiful shuttle bus service within the park that would connect gates, sites and amenities throughout the entire park. That would mean facilitating bus rides from each of the gates, devising various routes and using electrified shuttle buses. Some time ago I travelled in one of these buses from the Visitors Centre to the Magazine Fort and back. It was very quiet, clean, efficient, fast and safe. This should be the future for park transport.
I also note that the proposals are silent on the issue of Tour buses travelling through the park. This is a mistake. Open top tour buses have been increasingly dominating the main road from Parkgate Street to Castleknock throughout the day in the period prior to the pandemic. No doubt that they will return if not explicitly excluded. Instead tourists should be accommodated in visiting the park in the same manner as everyone else, ie by shuttle bus from gate to gate and from gate to amenity. Tour buses are generally noisy, dirty and have a very negative impact on the air quality.
Finally, strong consideration needs to be given to how communities living directly around the park will be impacted by closure of various gates to traffic. The most obvious of those is the community of Chapelizod village and surrounds. This very old and beautiful village is delicate and already suffers with an overload of traffic through Martins Row and on into the village. If the Knockmaroon gates are closed this grid lock problem is likely to increase hugely. It will bring with it a deterioration in air quality and an increase in road traffic dangers, not just for cars, vans, motorbikes etc but for pedestrians, cyclists and local people. A solution must be found that will not impact on the village, its heritage, its people and its environment.
I am not convinced that the proposals so far have considered the impact on areas outside the park but I do welcome any attempt to improve the future of the Phoenix’s Park’s biodiversity and wildlife.
Signed: Bríd Smith TD