Some words to the Irish Parking Association

Ciarán Cuffe Chair, Dublin City Council Transportation Strategic Policy Committee with Nigel Williams Chair of the British Parking Association Board, Gibson Hotel Dublin, 29th November 2016

Speech to Irish Parking Association lunch, Gibson Hotel, 29th November 2016

Fellow motorists, public transport users, cyclists and pedestrians,

It is an honour to be invited here, and I hope to make it out of alive. I’ve never spoken before a sword swallower before but I will try and impress you with my rapier wit. I won’t run through my parking jokes, but I will make one observation, you never really learn to swear until you learn to drive.

I guess I’m one of those in-betweeners. I’m old enough to remember driving down Grafton Street and getting away with parking with the hazard lights on.

It is interesting to note that on this date, 29th November, 34 years ago today Grafton Street was made a car-free zone between the hours of 11am and 6.30pm. However I’m young enough to understand the millennial aspiration of car-free living. Back in the late 1960s the Myles Wright Report on Dublin stated that “As soon as a family man could afford to he moved home to the edge but continued to work at the centre”. Well, I believe that idea is changing, and I know that the inner city’s population has doubled over the last thirty years. I am one of those people. Sick and tired of waiting for lifts, and buses and getting stuck in traffic I made the decision to move to Dublin’s inner city in the mid-1980s and I don’t regret my decision. I am now bringing up my teenage children in the inner city, and I suspect they may well opt not to drive that often.

Bruce Katz a researcher from the Brookings Institute in Washington DC has stated that the future of our cities is walkability, bikeability and liveability. I suspect he’s right. After half a century of flight to the suburbs, young people today are fleeing right back to our urban centres.

In Dublin we’re using our traffic signal programming (SCATS) to coordinate traffic, and we may well use it to give a green wave to cyclists and reduce pollution levels in the years to come. We are managing HGVs to reduce their presence on city centre streets. We are designing a Liffey Cycleway that will provide a high-quality segregated two-way cycleway on the north Quays. We’re building the Luas Cross City project which gives us an opportunity to create a car-free College Green. We’re reducing speed limits in residential areas to 30 km/hr to reduce deaths and injuries from traffic, and provide safer streets for children to cycle and walk to school. We’re granting planning permission to new housing developments that contain hundreds of bed-spaces, yet contain no parking spaces. The word is changing. Our transport hierarchy puts the pedestrian first, then cycling, then public transport and goods vehicles, and then private car journeys. We’re not banning the car, but we want to give cars their rightful place in a sustainable transport hierarchy. It is important to note that according to NTA research over half (56%) of all retail spend in City Centre comes from people arriving on public transport, a further 24% from walkers/cyclists. Car-based shoppers account for only €1 in every €5 spent in town. Ann Graham, Chief Executive of the NTA has stated: : “People coming in by car will always be important – they do spend the most money per head when they are in town (€137) – it is the public transport, walking and cycling communities that deliver the strongest cash injection to the city’s economy as a whole.  After all, they account for over 80% of all visitors, and we will continue to put these people at the centre of our transport planning – for the long-term economic benefit of the city.”

Our newly adopted Dublin City Development Plan states the following:

-We will encourage and support alternatives to on street parking with a view to limiting this approach to parking so as to support family-friendly communities.

-We will minimise loss of on-street parking.

-We wish to discourage commuter parking and to ensure adequate but not excessive parking provision for short-term shopping, business and leisure use.

-We shall control the supply and price of all parking in the city in order to achieve sustainable transportation policy objectives.

-We want to provide for sustainable levels of car parking and car storage in residential schemes in accordance with Development Plan car parking standards (section 16.38) so as to promote city centre living and reduce the requirement for car parking.

-We intend finding new ways of addressing the parking needs of residents (such as car clubs) to reduce the requirement for car parking.

-We shall safeguard the residential parking component in mixed-use developments.

It is also an Objective of Dublin City Council to progressively eliminate all ‘free’ on-street parking, both within the canals and in adjacent areas where there is evidence of ‘all day’ commuter parking, through the imposition of appropriate parking controls, including disc parking. We shall renew restrictions on the use and cost of on-street parking and change them, as necessary, in order to discourage commuter parking, and to facilitate short-term parking for shopping, business and leisure purposes at appropriate locations.

Looking to the future, we shall put an emphasis on safety and reducing emissions. I believe that car clubs like GoCar and Yuko will expand. We will focus firmly on low carbon goals. I look forward to seeing automated vehicles on our streets that will move safely around vulnerable road users. We are not doing this alone. We are simply getting in line with other cities such as Oslo, Rome, and London that wish to reclaim the streets for all road users, and not just those travelling in motorised vehicles.

In Grangegorman the Dublin Institute of Technology is planning a new university campus that is largely car-free. I was in Rotterdam two weeks ago. A large underground bicycle park was thriving, and I was told that the new underground multi-storey car park is not as full as was planned. This I believe is the shape of things to come.

There is space in this vision for profitable busy car parks, but they will be part of comprehensive mobility management plans for our urban centres which will become more attractive places to live, work and relax in, in the years ahead. These car parks will increasingly be part of mixed-use buildings, with retail units on the ground flow, and offices and homes above. The Irish Parking Association has a role to play in creating successful urban centres in future years. We need your expertise and knowledge to create thriving towns, and I have no doubt that we can work together to create a Living City.

ENDS, page last updated 6th December 2016

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