Figures from 2018 show that 1,410 people sadly lost their lives prematurely in Ireland due to poor air quality, with thousands more suffering from long term heart, lung, and brain conditions as a result. Vehicle emissions are a key contributor to this lack of clean air in Dublin. The recent progress made for pedestrian, cycling, and public transport routes has been positive, but still the vast majority of routes in SDCC continue to be favoured for private vehicles. This stands in the way of high capacity traffic solutions and sustainable movement. There are several areas in the urban centres of SDCC's villages and larger settlements which could be pedestrianised, while still allowing a cycle lane and disability access.
In relation to sustainable transport, the following should be at the core of planning and development:
- Introduction of 30km speed limits in SDCC. It is the quickest and cheapest way to make our streets and roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians of all ages and to reduce carbon emissions. This is an essential development aspect in the face of increased cyclist deaths last year and a surge in pedestrians and cyclists on our roads due to Covid19.
- More cycle parking for bikes and cargo bikes both outdoors and indoors (floor of a multi storey car park in Tallaght) to facilitate and encourage increased cycling.
- Complete electrification of the Dublin Bus fleet as soon as possible.
- Extension of the bike to work scheme to a “bike for all” scheme which includes electric bikes and allows anyone to participate e.g. a grant (the same as the bike to work scheme but you would not be indebted to your employer). This would allow more people to travel by bike thus encouraging reduction of air pollution, carbon emissions and traffic congestion.
- The number of air quality monitoring devices in SDCC is far from adequate. This needs to be significantly increased, especially in congestion blackspots.
- Development design and planning in and around parks should encourage park users to travel to the park in more sustainable ways. For example ensuring the provision of safe, wide footpaths for pedestrians; sustainable public transport links; implementation of safe and sustainable cycling infrastructure; facilitation of cycling within and through parks e.g. remove kissing gates etc. that impede cyclists, especially cargo bikes and cyclists with a disability.
- Development of cycling and pedestrian infrastructure for sustainable movement should include plentiful planting of varied and native trees and / or hedges along busy roads to act as carbon filters to help protect pedestrians and cyclists from air pollution. Trees can improve air quality in direct and indirect ways. They filter atmospheric pollutants like sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter.
- Dublin Friends of the Earth strongly advocates for and encourages the implementation of a public awareness and education campaign to tackle the issue of engine idling which contributes negatively to our carbon emissions. Research has shown that engine idling “in a car creates worse emissions than driving” (Irish Times, January 2021). Idling is especially significant around schools, near shops, in car parks and in multi-storey car parks.