Written answers

Thursday, 20 January 2022

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Public Parks

Photo of Patrick CostelloPatrick Costello (Dublin South Central, Green Party)
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21. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if an update will be provided on the implementation of the recommendations and next steps from the Phoenix Park Transport and Mobility Options report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2554/22]

Photo of Patrick O'DonovanPatrick O'Donovan (Limerick County, Fine Gael)
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The Office of Public Works has been actively progressing the various elements of the Phoenix Park Transport and Mobility Options Study, Post Consultation Report, June 2021, since its adoption by my Office. Over 2,200 submissions were received from members of the public, stakeholders and elected representatives. Five common themes emerged as follows: - walking & cycling; access, gates & roads; public transport; movement within the park and public consultation. The recommendations contained within the report were to be advanced in three phases, over the next seven years. With regard to Phase 1 (years 0-2), the following proposals have been activated by my department as set out within the report.

A programme of improvements to walking and cycling infrastructure commenced in 2021 with the instillation of over 2.5km of re-laid footpaths along the North road which greatly improved the quality and alignment of the footpath surface. Dropped kerbs were installed at strategic points along the route to ensure universal access for all. A series of small local footpath upgrades have also taken place.

The design and plans for the 4.5km permanent one directional cycle lanes along Chesterfield Avenue, linking Castleknock to the city, are currently being developed with the National Transport Authority & Dublin City Council. In the interim, the tender has been awarded for the supply and installation of traffic lane separators for the entire length of Chesterfield Avenue, on both sides of the road. Works on site are due to commence in February 2022. Over 8km of temporary cones will be removed and these new durable and strong dividers will ensure a safer experience for both cyclists and vehicles using Chesterfield Avenue. In addition, over 40 new bike stands have been installed throughout the Park with an additional 70 planned for 2022.

The OPW is currently preparing a 3-year programme of pedestrian and cycle improvements including provision of bike parking infrastructure throughout the Park.

Further to the recommendations in the Transport and Mobility Options Report, the implementation of the 9-month pilot study of cul-de-sacs on the North Road & Upper Glen Road will commence on Monday 28 February 2022. The North Road will be temporarily closed from 21 February to facilitate enabling works including the instillation of bollards, new road markings, signage etc and will reopen on 28 February as a one-way system, in the City direction only. Likewise, on the Upper Glen Road, enabling works will commence from February 21 to facilitate the installation of bollards, signage and line marking in advance of the pilot cul-de-sacs commencing on the 28 February 2022. Access will not be impacted to those institutions in close proximity to these pilot studies routes.

Traffic data collection points were installed throughout the Phoenix Park in late 2021 and will record vehicular and cycle data over the next 6 months.

Under the theme 'Movement within the Park', the OPW and An Garda Siochana have been actively refining plans for the introduction of a 30kmph speed limit in the Park from 28 February 2022. A robust operations and communications plan will be put in place in advance of the reduction of speed limit from 50kph to 30kph. This measure should see a marked difference in driver behaviour making the Park a safer place for those using it for recreational purposes. An Garda Siochana will monitor compliance with the new speed limit and will take appropriate action when necessary.

Long-stay commuter parking, as well as high levels of illegal parking within and around the perimeter of the Park were identified as a major issue in the Study. As a result. one of the key recommendations of the Study was the development of a Parking Strategy to examine ways in which we can address parking demand and traffic volumes at key attractions such as the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre and Dublin Zoo, but also promote the switch to sustainable modes of travel to access the Park, which is a key aspiration of the Transport and Mobility Options Study.

It is expected that the Parking Strategy will primarily be focused on measures related to visitor parking including bike parking, and in light of the aims and objectives of the Transport and Mobility Options Study, emphasis will be on providing for those visitors who have no other option than to use a car to visit the Park. The Strategy will also address the needs of those with mobility issues and their parking requirements. The Strategy will however, also be required to address issues such as long stay commuter parking and illegal parking within the Park.

Given that recommendations for the Phoenix Park could impact the surrounding areas and communities, a secondary study area encompassing residential areas surrounding the Park will also be considered when assessing the impacts of proposed options that might be developed as part of the overall Parking Strategy for the Park.

I can also advise that the National Transport Authority is currently trialling bus options for the Park and they do hope to have recommendations in early 2022 for the best options available to serve the Phoenix Park and surrounding areas.

The OPW has initiated a review of the legislation pertaining to the bye-laws of the Phoenix Park with the Chief State Solicitor’s Office and other relevant Government departments, with regard to the regulation of traffic and parking within the Phoenix Park.

I’d like to emphasise that I personally have met with the relevant public representatives on a number of occasions at key stages in the process over the last eighteen months with a view to listening and understanding the concerns of constituents with regard to transport and mobility issues in, and around the Park. My officials have also made detailed presentations to Local Area Committees of both Dublin City Council and Fingal County Council to brief local Councillors on the details of the report as it went to consultation. They also met them again last October to brief them on the recommendations for implementation contained in the final report produced following the public consultation process.

A detailed communications plan is currently being finalised to provide the public with notice of the proposed changes to speed limit within the Park along with the commencement of pilot studies on 28th February. This will include provision of signage throughout the Park, messaging through digital and traditional communications platform along with direct engagement with internal and external park stakeholders.

The OPW is committed to continuing engagement with the public on all of these issues and assures all stakeholders that the conservation and presentation of the Phoenix Park to international best practice while accommodating access for all is paramount.


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