Environmental Study Group at the SAI

Draft Dublin City Centre Transport Plan (DCCTP) – Submission on behalf of the Sociology Association of Ireland (SAI) Environment & Society Study Group

Dublin City Council City Centre Projects

We are strongly supportive of the measures to reduce the accessibility provided by driving in the city centre and simultaneously expand the accessibility and directness of cycling, walking and public transport. This helps inner Dublin to move closer toward the aspirational road user hierarchy in the most densely developed area of Ireland, which is no less than essential amidst failing efforts to decarbonise the transport sector. We commend Dublin City Council on making this proposal, which could – if successfully implemented – provide a model for major cities and towns across Ireland. Along with the accessibility and mobility implications of this proposal, we welcome the emphasis on re-establishing and prioritising the place function of various locations within the plan, such as College Green, Lincoln Place, and Custom House Quay.

Our research group draws from a variety of theories in sociology, particularly ‘social practice theory’ which focuses on the question of how people are recruited to, and sustain, everyday practices (such as driving for shopping, child-chauffeuring, and commuting), and how major transitions in everyday unsustainable practices might be achieved (e.g. the ‘avoid’ and ‘shift’ arms of the National Sustainable Mobility Policy – how people might reduce their mobility and still meet everyday needs, and change their mobility practices). Social practice theory contends that practices are always in competition. In the case of everyday mobility, more sustainable modes compete with driving. Through how your plan proposes to reconfigure the materials and rules of public spaces for inner Dublin in such a way that favours active travel and public transport – at the expense of driving – we consider this proposal theoretically sound from a social practice theory perspective on modal shift and how it might be achieved. However, we would also like to emphasise that the more these sustainable modes can be synergistically interconnected with one another the greater the potential for modal shift. On these grounds, we encourage more consideration of linking modes together, particularly cycling and rail through guarded indoor cycle parking for longer-term parking as is standard across European high-cycling contexts.

We have two recommendations for the plan:

  • Christchurch Junction: We think the design of this junction should be designed to provide protected priority to cycle traffic, as recommended in the NTA Cycle Design Manual for Central Roads with speed limits less than or equal to 50km/h.   
  • Section of South Quays (Fig.9.4.1): We think the South Quays plan does not improve the accessibility of cycling compared to the present scenario, where cyclists are not respected and car and bus drivers do not respect the speed limit – which is unsurprising considering the wide design of this road. We think that additional measures would be needed here to enhance this as an accessible space for cycling. This could include measures to reduce bus & taxi speeds to ensure compliance with 30km/h, and seriously considering the possibility of a two-way cycle track as an alternative to one of the two bus lanes. In the Cycle Design Manual, mixed traffic cycling is not considered appropriate for 30km/h zones with >400 pcus per hour. Of course, this section would be for buses and taxis, so we accept the possibility that there would be <200 pcus per hour. However, we question how accessible and comfortable this would feel for a diverse cohort of cyclists with large buses passing on a relatively open road. Arguably there is good pedestrian connectivity between the two quays (and, relatedly, good accessibility for bus users to both sides of the Liffey), whereas this is not the case for cyclists on this section of the South Quays, despite the density of destinations. In this way, in our view, the proposed section does not satisfy the Cycle Design Manual principles of directness and safety for the cycle network.

Yours sincerely

The SAI Environment & Society Study Group: Dr Emmet Fox, South East Technological University, Dr Egle Gusciute, University College Dublin, Dr Mike Hynes, University of Galway, Dr Robert Egan, Trinity College Dublin.