New plans to reduce the number of cars in the Phoenix Park could be transformational”, local Green Party Councillor Michael Pidgeon has said.

The initial study, released by the OPW today (Monday), calls for a series of changes to road access and gate opening, as part of a wider package to improve walking, cycling and public transport in the park.

It follows a campaign in the summer of 2020 to reduce the number of cars in the park and give more space to pedestrians and cyclists. A Green Party petition on the issue in May 2020 received over 7,500 signatures

The study sets out over ten options for gate closures and road changes to reduce car dominance. 

Two of the most-preferred options would either see cul-de-sacs established at points in the park to end through traffic on side roads (while allowing it on Chesterfield Avenue) or dividing the park into “pods” with no through-traffic permitted.

The study also recommends: 

  • a new network of improved walking and cycling facilities through the park,
  • a limited bus route to open the park to public transport users,
  • a 30kph speed limit for the whole park (currently mostly 50kph),
  • a new parking control strategy,
  • a review of the park’s 95-year-old bye-laws.

The study will go for public consultation at the end of January, with a final report due by April.

Dublin City Green Party Councillor for the South West Inner City Michael Pidgeon, said:

“This could be the most transformational project for the Phoenix Park in nearly a century. The OPW shouldn’t shy away from embracing the most ambitious proposals.

“Reducing car dominance would not only be good for nature in the park, but help make it the calm, quiet place it should always have been. A lot of this is stuff we should have done years ago.

“When the park’s side gates closed last summer, we got a glimpse of how fantastic the park could be with fewer cars. This study builds on that and resolves some of the teething problems we had from the gate closure.

“The exact approach on how it’s done will need public consultation and I look forward to making a submission. From an initial read, the plan to end all through-traffic and divide the park into pods seems best.

“The key thing is that the principle is accepted: there must be far fewer cars in the park, and more space for people.

“The Greens have been fighting hard for this in government, often against entrenched opposition. We should take the best of this report and implement it as soon as possible.”

Update: I’ve also posted some other initial thoughts on Twitter, here.