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Removing clutter from our City streets

Throughout the opening months of this year, I have been contacted by #NorthInnerCity residents and households critical of the amount of clutter on our city streets.

By clutter, I mean the volume of electric boxes, the use of plastic bollards or the amount of street signage poles, for example. So, with that in mind, I put some questions to the Chief Executive of Dublin City Council, Owen Keegan requesting clarity on the need for such street clutter. I asked him to explain the rationale behind the volume of electric boxes cluttering the public realm of our City Centre; why is it they are necessary; in particular, why are so many required in the Docklands area; instead of using plastic bollards, can planters not be used to segregate and protect cycle lanes. I used the example of the junction of Infirmary Road with Montpelier Hill of where greenery would be ideally suited to protect cycle infrastructure that has been repeatedly blocked by parked cars, including Garda vehicles.

I also asked the Chief Executive why is it that so much street signage poles are required on our city streets, for example; can multiple signs not be installed on one pole as opposed to multiple poles highlighting the same issue along the same street, as evidenced along Parnell Square East and Chancery Street. Furthermore, I made a similar point when it comes to the volume of new 30km speed limit signage poles erected across the City Centre; and if he would detail how he intends for the City Council to begin the process of decluttering our city streets and public realm.

The Chief Executive provided for the following response:

“Within the Docklands area there are a mixture of locations which are not in charge of DCC and so any electrical boxes in those locations are the matter for the owners rather than DCC. Elsewhere in the public areas of docklands there are equipment installations for the LUAS light rail system for their overhead power cables, these all have planning permission and are necessary for the operation of the Luas. DCC will also have traffic signal controllers which are necessary for the provision of traffic signals and to both regulate traffic and provide safety to all road users.

Plastic bollards are used to protect cycle lanes as they have are relatively cheap to purchase, are easy to install and maintain, and have a small footprint making it possible to protect cycle lanes while minimising the impact on other traffic lanes.  Bollards are also much more versatile and come in different types- some allowing kerbside access for vehicles where required. We have used planters to protect cycle lanes, for example (details supplied 1) and will continue to explore how these essential cycle protections can be changed to more permanent protection.

The existing layout at the entrance to (details supplied 2) is not suitable for our standard planters. However, we will explore with our Parks Department the possibility of installing bespoke planters or planting in this area.

DCC seeks to minimise the amount of street signage. For instance it’s common practise to upgrade single sign poles (3.4M) when an additional sign is requested (to a 4.0M sign pole), to accommodate the additional signage. However, DCC, as the Roads Authority, is obliged to meet statutory requirements when it comes to installing signage including:

Statutory Signage:       Speed Limits, Stop, Yield, 3.5t Ban, Clearway, Bus Lanes, Pedestrian Zones, No Entry, No Left, No Right, Paid Parking.

Warning Signage:        Children Crossing, Junction Ahead, Low Bridge, Traffic Lights Ahead, Railway Crossing, Traffic Wardens.

Information Signs:       Ramps, Orbital Route Signs, Directional (Area) Signs, Fingerposts, National Road Signs, Cul de Sac.

The volume of 30Km/h Signage was approved by the City Council in 2016 and was incrementally installed from 2018-2021, despite Covid-19.

The Slow Zone Sign (F 403) is a sign to be used in housing estates where a 30 km/h speed limit is being applied and a slow zone is being created. The Slow Zones aim to reduce the speed limit to 30 km/h and to change driver behaviour. The ultimate goal of a ‘Slow Zone’ is to lower the incidence and severity of crashes and to enhance quality of life.

This sign has been installed at the entry points to self-contained (cul-de-sac) housing estates where a 30 km/h speed limit is being implemented and a ‘Slow Zone’ is being created in the city. Please note that it is Dublin City Councils policy not to erect repeater signs, as this will lead to a proliferation of signage throughout the city.

The awarding of a new maintenance contract in 2019, has enabled an ongoing programme of de-cluttering works that led to the removal of 600 vacant sign poles last year (2021), and another 250 vacant poles this year (2022).

There is also an ongoing programme for the removal of illegal Fingerpost signage in the City.”

I was disappointed with this response for I felt it read like an explanation why the City Council insists on the erection of such signage, as opposed to detailing why or how the amount or volume of existing signage, plastic bollards and other paraphernalia could be reduced. I will not be deterred in trying to get agreement from Council management to properly remove and therefore reduce the level of clutter on our streetscape.

Separately, as Chair of the Dublin Central Area Committee, I have been liaising with officials in the Area Office to advance proposals for a pilot decluttering scheme in Stoneybatter, specifically along Manor Street. Late last year, the Committee agreed a motion put forward by Cllr. Costello to tackle the number of poles and signage in place along a specific stretch of Manor Street. In order to deliver on the objectives by the Councillor, I committed to putting in place a Working Group to focus on removing as much unnecessary street poles, signs, etc along the whole length of Manor Street. As part of the #DublinCentral Discretionary Allocation 2022, we have set aside €15,000 to advance this work. It is my hope, that if we can make substantial progress with this pilot scheme, a similar initiative will be backed by the Council Executive for implementation across the City Centre.

Tackling this issue, for me, is a central aspect of what I believe we need to do to ‘Clean up Dublin’.

raymcadam View All

Fine Gael Councillor - North Inner City

Chair, Urban Form & Planning Strategic Policy Committee

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