Already more than 2 weeks ago the Irish Times reported about the new layout and timescales of the creation of the College Green plaza. I had planned to write about it here before, but only now got the time. Anyway, the creation will take at least another 5 months until it has planning permission and then another 18 months until it is finished. So there is still plenty of time to discuss it’s good and bad sides.
As a car driver I am not completely thrilled with the increasing pedestrianisation of Dublin, but as a Dublin Bike cyclist, pedestrian and as an Electric Unicycle user (ask if you want to know! ;-) ), more car free areas make sense to me. So I am always a little conflicted when it comes to changes like that.
However, as long as the changes are good, we will all get used to it and will gain from it. So, are the changes good?
1) I think having a central civil plaza in Dublin is a great development and much needed.
2) It will HAVE to be available for events (e.g. regular flea or food market, gigs, street performance and busking). Unfortunately Dublin City has in the past been more a spoil sport than a supporter, but here is an opportunity to do better!
3) Ban ALL cars from the plaza! Obviously the LUAS will have to go through it and that’s not a problem and as long as they use the same lane, Busses could also go through, but MAKE SURE that there will be NO taxis! It just doesn’t make sense to have a pedestrianised plaza and then allow taxis to compete with each other for business or to have a situation where they suddenly stop to pick up people and therefore interfere with LUAS and busses.
4) I read about “32 water jets” and was concerned that a fountain will be built there. This would immediately reduce the flexibility the plaza will provide. But on closer inspection it looks like 32 water jets built into the street level surface. So there is no fountain, but the water will come directly out of the “floor”. Nothing new or unique, many cities have similar fountains, but there is nothing wrong with that.
5) Unfortunately the existing trees will all be cut down. Not something I like the idea of. Yes, new trees will be planted, but that doesn’t replace 1:1 an existing tree. I do understand though why the current trees are in the way. To make maximum use of the plaza you have to get rid of use-limiting features in the wrong places.
6) 18 months of more digging in Dublin doesn’t sound great, but hopefully the result will be worth it
7) If there is a nice civil plaza, it would be great to sit there and enjoy the place during weather like we had this week. But benches or concrete blocks or other street furniture to sit on will automatically reduce the versatility of the plaza. So as a result, you can’t really provide anything that will make the plaza more “homely”.
So all in all, it seems to be a good idea, that makes a lot of sense. But my non-negotiable requirement would be that the car ban is absolute and includes taxis and my other requirement would be that use of the plaza will be regulated already now and will explicitly permit all types of busking and street performance.
What do you think about the proposed design?