Update on Traffic Report
Updated: Jun 25, 2021
Almost 900 views of the report across Killester so far, almost 70 responses to the survey, some of which is strongly supportive, some of which is strongly critical. All feedback welcome!
While there are 40 pages of detail in that traffic report, there are some frequent questions or misunderstandings coming through that we wanted to address:
1. “Who is behind LoveKillester.com and why the name?”
Kevin Byrne of Abbeyfield took the initiative to set up the website, completely independently of the traffic group.
Clontarf has had a loveclontarf.ie website for years, so no reason why the ‘Tarf heads should have one up on Killester!
There are plans to make it prettier – but it belongs to all of Killester (especially not just Abbeyfield) – anyone who wants to get involved, or take over running of it, or who has ANY community ideas, news or activities that they want to get posted or kick off should drop a line to email@example.com. Some great suggestions in already – updates to follow.
2. “Who is involved in the traffic group?”
After a few hairy incidents of kids nearly being mowed over as we came out of lockdown late last year, a call for volunteers was made in the Abbeyfield and Middle Third WhatsappGroups early this year to look at what could be done to make it safer for people to move around Killester. 7 local residents volunteered for the group.
We also posted in the Killester Facebook Page back on March 21st which triggered a lot of discussion, but at that point, only one additional person volunteered from the across the whole of the rest of Killester.
For the record, none of us are credit card scammers, have any interest in getting involved in politics, or are “in the pocket of the new apartment developers”. :-p
Outside Abbeyfield & Middle Third and the Bramblings, there are almost no other functioning whatsapp groups in Killester - if there had been, we’d have tried to have more road by road discussion – we’d be happy to set them up to make future community planning and communication easier.
Anyone in Killester/Artane/Donneycarney is more than welcome to get involved now or at any point in the future - just send us an email.
3. “Who is being consulted / What has been done to date?”
Just to reassure: nothing has gone to Dublin City Council or any councillor – no representations have been made on behalf of anyone. We wanted to get a report out to all residents in Killester to allow an informed discussion across the community of what is and isn’t possible before having even preliminary discussions with the professionals in Dublin City Council.
We believe we have done everything possible within the confines of COVID regulations to make sure discussion in the community is as inclusive as possible.
Over the past 3 weeks, 1300 flyers were printed and dropped off to every house from the Artane Roundabout to the Demesne to Killester Ave. and all side roads off those roads. There have been almost 900 views of the report so far.
We printed off a number of hard copies of the report and are dropping them to every older person who texted or phoned us just to make sure nobody was excluded. The cost of printing and distribution so far is €400, which we’ve been happy to incur just to make sure all residents are included and all feedback is received.
We would have loved to talk face to face but could not hold a public meeting because of COVID, and we discussed and decided an online zoom meeting would risk excluding too many older people. We all work full time and most of us have children, so canvassing door to door across 1300 houses would not have been an option.
If any group of houses has been missed, please do drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Can we not just let things be, or widen and repair footpaths or trim hedges?
As a community, it should be possible to agree at a minimum that it should be safe to walk between Artane and Killester Village, for residents young or old, for the 700 girls at school in Killester, and the many others who go to school outside the area.
This was our primary goal in writing the report and there is no interest in proposing a solution which causes any more inconvenience that is necessary to achieve that goal.
When the group started work, our assumption was that we could just request a widening of footpaths and repair and that would be the job done.
The starting point was not a solution which removes traffic for only one road, in doing so causing inconvenience for everyone else. Rather we wanted to look at the bigger picture of the community as a whole and trying to identify all possible ways that that goal could be achieved.
Because of the footpath width, on all the older roads south of the schools, it is not possible for two families to pass without one stepping in against the wall or out onto the road. On bin day, it is not possible to walk between Artane and Killester Village with a buggy or a wheelchair at all without needing to step down into the road at several points on the route. In our view, this falls below a minimum acceptable standard for footpaths.
Unfortunately, as we discovered, on almost all the roads between the schools and Killester Village, including outside the DART, the carriageway is physically not wide enough to widen footpaths to even the minimum regulatory standards while still leaving space for 2 cars to pass. Indeed the carriageway is already 1m narrower than the minimum recommended width for a link road. It is not therefore physically possible to widen footpaths on this stretch without removing at least one lane of traffic south of the schools.
Stepping onto the road is safe to do on low traffic roads . But it is extremely dangerous when there are 300-500 cars an hour travelling on the road, or when cars speed along the road at certain off peak times. We have ourselves recorded peak traffic during lockdown in excess of 250 cars per hour across several places in Killester, and have a copy of the Traffic Engineering report from the new apartments which gives detail on the volumes in pre-COVID times of in excess of 500 cars per hour at peak directly outside the Convent.
When the traffic is busy, cars park up on the footpath further narrowing the already illegally narrow footpath. If traffic was not busy, they would do this less often.
Dublin is forecast to add 500,000 new residents in the coming 10-15 years, so the problem is not going to improve on its own.
These are the physical constraints that any solution to the problem needs to address.
Saying “Drivers should just slow down” unfortunately hasn’t worked. Nor do we believe is it fair to just “tell kids to be careful on the road” on any road across the area.
On a more positive note, we also have spent time listening to lifetime residents of the area – we’ve heard that once upon a time “kerbs” was played on the front road, or that all kids walked or cycled to school or to their friends’ houses. As any parent in the area will tell you, that’s just not possible today with high levels of traffic, but it would be possible across ALL roads in Killester if we as a community were willing to try out different things.
Fortunately, Dublin City Council, while slow moving, has expressed interest in allowing communities to trial different measures to make their community more liveable.
While we obviously had to make some recommendation in the report, we are not wedded to any solution, and welcome some of the very constructive suggestions in some responses. But unless we want to continue to allow the situation to continue to deteriorate, and accept that all residents of Killester are at several times of the day not safe to walk between Killester and Artane, some change will be necessary.
5. Did you consider the impact on other roads in the area?
Since the start of our work, we have tried to come up with solutions that addresses the traffic problems for ALL roads and we sincerely believe, based on the research we've done that some variation of the proposals in the report should achieve that. Any solution which just moves the traffic problem from one part of the residential area to another is not a solution that we want to recommend or support.
Members within the group spent many hours standing on street corners at the Artane Roundabout, on Brookwood Road, on Danieli Road, at May Park, and in the Demense over the past few months looking at traffic patterns.
As mentioned in the report, there have been hundreds of schemes like this implemented in other cities, and the research from those shows overwhelmingly that well designed restrictions in one area cause a reduction in traffic on other roads, not a shifting of traffic to other areas.
Per David O’Connor, head of the MSc programme in Transport and Mobility in DIT:
Traffic evaporation, is a recognised effect of traffic management schemes. And the point of it is that, when executed well in cities with good policies, the traffic doesn’t divert on to nearby streets, it disappears or, indeed, evaporates.
The science behind it is here: https://nacto.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/disappearing_traffic_cairns.pdf
Again the Dublin City Council assessment report in relation to the Grangegorman trial, where many residents had exactly the same fears of traffic being shifted around the area, found no evidence of this. The report is worth reading: https://consultation.dublincity.ie/traffic-and-transport/grangegorman-filtered-permeability-trial/results/filteredpermeabilityforgrangegormanjan2021report.pdf
Summary of the major impacts of restricting roads on traffic on surrounding roads in London: https://londonlivingstreets.com/2019/07/11/evaporating-traffic-impact-of-low-traffic-neighbourhoods-on-main-roads/
6. Why did the Option C proposed design centre around Abbeyfield / St. Brigid’s Road?
To reiterate, option C is only one possible variation of how filtered permeability could be used for in Killester, and Dublin City Council may well may have an improved design using filters elsewhere, one way streets, or use timed road closing.
There were 3 big reasons Option C proposed a filter at the point Abbeyfield meets St. Brigid’s Road, rather than any other points north or south:
From a traffic perspective, Abbeyfield front road acts like a tree trunk in the middle of the neighbourhood that then branches out through Brookwood Road, Danieli Road and Artane Roundabout at one end and down both ends of Killester Ave and the Demense at the other.
It’s a single point along multiple shortcut routes across the area by traffic. Rather than identifying a traffic solution for each individual branch road, it made sense to look at a way of disincentivising traffic at the trunk, which should then have positive knock-on effects for all the branches.
Taking the example of Brookwood Road, 50% of the morning traffic pre school dropoff time coming down that road turns left onto Abbeyfield and over a third coming through Abbeyfield turns right onto Brookwood Road.
If you disincentivise traffic from going down Abbeyfield, you break the link in the shortcut for traffic, and that traffic won’t just circle Brookwood Road – it will chose another route or mode of travel and just not come down Brookwood Road, resulting theoretically in a 50% drop in traffic along Brookwood Road at that time of the morning, even before any school traffic is reduced.
This same logic applies across all the exit roads of the neighbourhood. As mentioned in the report, there is a separate problem with a short but significant rat run around May Park to Clanhugh Road - this issue needs addressing irrespective of what’s proposed elsewhere.
From a pedestrian perspective, almost every resident of Killester or Artane who wants to walk between Killester Village, the Dart Station, up to the shops or bus stops at Artane Roundabout needs to walk down some length of the spine of St. Brigid’s Road / Abbeyfield Front Road / Middle Third.
65% and rising of people in Dublin go to work by public transport (which they walk to), cycling or walking.
Footpaths north of the schools are just acceptably wide, but footpaths between the schools and Killester Village are significantly below the minimum legal standards, which causes the problems referenced above.
From a school’s perspective, there are 700 girls who go to school at this point –per the school survey most already walk or cycle (we estimate the schools generate 150-200 cars between Abbeyfield, Brigid’s Road and Killester Park), but half of those who drive have said they would be more likely to walk or cycle if their route was safer.
If we could make their route to school safe to walk/cycle, we could take 100 cars in the morning peak off the roads. Lots of children travel outside the area for schools – but the same principle applies – for kids walking or cycling to school, it’s currently not safe, and the safer we can make it, the fewer parents will drive their kids to school, the fewer cars there will be on the road.
It will not suit for some parents, for others, the lack of a safe and convenient way to walk or cycle to school is the main reason the car is used.
It also opens the door to “walking buses” or “cycle buses”, as schools such as Greenlanes have organised, where individual parents shepherd herds of kids together, again, reducing car traffic.
In addition, there is an important air pollution consideration near the schools: Unicef and many public health organisations recommend schools not be located on busy roads because of the risks of asthma, and slower lung, nervous system and brain development that children can absorb on their way to school or in playgrounds beside busy roads.
If we provide a safer environment outside the schools, there is no reason to believe more parents will drive to the back of the school, eg at Killester Park.
7. What’s going to happen next?
Nothing is going to happen fast.
Some residents have understandably taken the reference to end of June in the survey as meaning that any traffic calming would be in place at the end of June.
That is absolutely not the case and sincere apologies – that should have been clarified at the top of the report and in the summary.
Unlike my other half’s online shopping habit, Dublin City Council doesn’t do one click next day delivery.
The reference to end of June was with a view to starting a conversation with Dublin City Council about what would be possible and what designs might work, before coming back to the community. This is why the survey refers to “bringing proposals to DCC for evaluation”.
Even if or when a design is approved by DCC and agreed to by community, it is highly unlikely for even a trial to be installed overnight.
For the sake of simplicity, we presented 3 options in the report, with only one design under option 3 (“filtered permeability”) in order to get us all talking about options.
In reality there are multiple possible variations of the options mentioned, and some excellent suggestions have come back through the survey.
Getting flyers out to 1300 houses took longer than expected, however since 24th June, all residents should have now have received the flyer, including the invite to have their say. We need to allow some weeks for all residents to digest and feed in. Given the summer is approaching, no further action will be taken until at least the end of July.
During August, we will collate all the responses, postitive and critical and report back to the community.
If feedback indicates that strong majority of the community want to take no further action, then no further action will be taken. Democracy! :-)
If feedback indicates a strong majority of the community are happy to do something, but have problems with some specific recommendations in the report, then we will start discussions with Dublin City Council about what other designs could be possible or how the problems raised could be addressed, and will report back to the community.
If feedback indicates a strong majority of the community want to trial of the specific design of Option C referenced in the report, then we will also start discussions with Dublin City Council on how any concerns raised by the minority could be addressed and whether the proposed design is the best possible one for the area, all factors considered. Dublin City Council would then need to undertake a data gathering exercise at various points around Killester before any trial was implemented, and would need to conduct a full public consultation at the end of any trial. Any trial will almost certainly be removed at the end of the trial period.
None of this would happen quietly - we are committed to keep the community fully aware.
8. How do we know most traffic is external to the area?
Intuitively, if you stand on any of the entrance junctions into the neighbourhood from 8am in the morning, you’ll see large volumes of cars driving into the residential area.
This is not residents coming home from 7am shopping – this is non-residents using the area as a shortcut.
How do we know that it’s not just schools traffic? While schools traffic is one component, the traffic volumes through the area hit a morning peak long before school dropoff times, and are at evening peak long after schools close.
More technically, Ireland and the UK use a database called TRICS (http://www.trics.org/how_2_use.aspx) to analyse traffic generation.
Any house or apartment will have a certain number of cars leaving and arriving in any one day. While individual houses might differ, across a collection of houses, that averages out and you can predict how many arrivals and departures (and so how much traffic) that group of houses will generate for a given hour.
Using this database, for example, and very roughly, the 400 Artane houses inside the main roads north of the schools should generate about 120 car trips at peak rush hour around those roads, when pre-Covid traffic levels were more like 400-500 car movements.
Google Maps suggests these 400-500 cars are shortcutting down the full length of the area. Breaking the link of their short cut route doesn’t just move that external traffic to another part of the residential area: instead, that traffic just doesn’t come in at all.
Dublin City Council will be able to analyse this at a road level more accurately.
9. What about the new Apartments?
The 86 apartments, whose foreman advises us are scheduled to complete construction around year end (once the builders are gone, this may help some of the current parking problems on Brookwood Road) are unfortunately a buy to rent scheme, rather than being available to first time buyers, and are all owned by a German pension fund.
Half are one beds, almost all the rest are two beds. Per their planning permission, they will have 97 car basement spaces and 111 bicycle spaces.
On average, apartment residents, especially in the rental sector tend to use cars far than less than house owners - one and two bed apartment dwellers tend to not yet have children, tend to be saving for a deposit so want to avoid the significant cost of owning a car, tend to be more likely to use public transport.
The TRICS database used by engineers in the planning permission for the apartments to estimate that 86 new apartments would generate only 23 additional cars on the road (out of a modelled >500 cars on the road) during rush hour. St. Mary's Holy Faith Convent Development Traffic report.
For example, there are over twice as many houses in St Brigid estate (200 houses) as apartments being built– all of which empties onto St Brigid’s road at the same point, yet the existence of that estate does not result in catastrophic levels of traffic on St Brigid’s Road.
The best strategy we have of minimising change to the neighbourhood from increased traffic from the apartments is to ensure the streets outside it are pedestrian and cycle friendly.
10. Will any traffic restrictions not just impact on older people?
The broken and narrow footpaths along most of Killester impact the mobility of older people as much if not more than younger people, and the dangers of crossing the road means that instead of freely being able to walk around the neighbourhood as older residents have said they could as children, cars have become the default way of moving even short distances.
Some older people do cycle and many older people do walk. New mobility technologies like ebikes and etrikes as well as traditional mobility scooters are transforming independent mobility for older people, but for those of us not clad in lycra, cycling up the road can be threatening.
Almost no children cycle to school to sports on the carriageway - this is because it is too dangerous. Where they cycle, they use the footpath, which is already too narrow for pedestrians.
We fully understand and respect that any road restrictions may make driving for some older people significantly less convenient, and hearing that feedback allows us to improve any final proposed design. But equally, freedom to drive without restrictions has impacts on all of us, across all roads, young and old, for all the reasons we never learned at school:
The Royal College of Surgeons says that older people are at significantly higher risk of stroke on days of heavier pollution arising from diesel engines and solid fuel burning. https://www.rcsi.com/dublin/news-and-events/news/news-article/2020/08/air-pollution-in-ireland-associated-with-strokes.
Another recent study says that living near a busy road can significantly increase the risk of Alzeihmers, again because of air pollution. https://www.irishtimes.com/news/health/alzheimer-s-risk-can-increase-by-living-close-to-busy-road-study-1.2926288
The Environmental Protection Agency says that traffic noise pollution is a significant contributor to higher blood pressure and mental health issues. (https://www.fieldfisher.com/en-ie/locations/ireland/ireland-blog/epa_highlights_the_impact_of_increasing_noise_pollution).
Every political party in Ireland, from Fine Gael and Fianna Fail to Sinn Fein and PBP have agreed to a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions in the next 10 years to try and avoid the predicted food and water shortages caused by Climate Change. Getting as many of us as possible out of cars is an essential part of that, but it’s chicken and egg – we won’t be able to increase walking and cycling while roads prioritise cars. https://www.rte.ie/news/environment/2021/0622/1229598-epa-report/
11. Will any road amendments not just lead to increased anti-social behaviour?
Poor design and poor lighting of public spaces can and often does result in increased anti-social behaviour, so we definitely agree that planning any alterative design must be well designed to avoid likelihood of anti-social behaviour.
But good design with good lighting can mean community space for all. Equally, another resident makes the valid point that areas like the DART bridge are not exactly people friendly at the moment!
Please keep the feedback coming in.
We welcome all commentary and feedback, supportive or critical - there is only an interest on our behalf of solving the problem across the whole area.
One final point: several residents have submitted questions in their response, and have asked for a response, but have omitted their house number. We'd be very happy to discuss any questions by email or drop a written answer over to your house.
We will post an update on feedback in a few weeks.
Take care all!