Responding to Limerick through Covid-19

PRESS RELEASE

Limerick May 27, 2020

In response to the Draft Proposals Guiding Limerick ThroughCovid-19 Transforming a challenge into an opportunity’, #LiveableLimerick has today issued the following statement:-

#Liveablelimerick welcome the proposals to change the uses of streets and public realm to help residents and businesses in our communities to get through these challenging months. 

We would, however, encourage that more ambitious street closuresand/or speed limit restrictions are considered not just for the retail part and riverbanks of the city centre but also in other residential parts of the city, including, Kings Island, other areas of Newtown Pery, John’s Square, Hyde Road and other areas in county towns particularly at weekends.  We believe other streets proximate to housing, especially apartment living, should be closed on weekends for safer pedestrian use or recreational family cycling.  

We also welcome the reduction of speed limits to 25km in the designated area but remind Councillors that 73% of pedestrians hit by a passenger car travelling at 21km-30km hour suffer critical injuries whereas at 11km – 20km only 13% of persons are so injured.  

As a result, we are today calling on our Councillors to put safety first and reduce new emergency speed limits from 25km to 15km to create a truly safe space where people, bikes and motorised vehicles can mix comfortably, more commonly known as a “Shared Space”.

“The key condition for the design of any shared surface is that drivers, upon entering the street, recognise that they are in a shared space and react by driving very slowly (i.e. 20km/h or less).”

(Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets 2019)

We remind Councillors that 15km was the speed limit they agreed forO’Connell Street. 

Safety is not just for the streets in Limerick city centre.  We would also propose a speed limit of 15km for areas of high pedestrian usage in the Towns and Villages throughout Co. Limerick to improve safety for people making journeys by walking or cycling during the Covid-19 restrictions.

Given the very short distances involved, a further reduction of 10km in speed would not even add 1 minute travel time inside the proposed 25km zone map in Limerick City but would protect of 98% of pedestrian and cyclists road users from the risk of fatal injuries.

#Liveablelimerick fully supports a public information campaign to make road users aware of changes, and enforcement of new speed limits to protect all road users.

We look to you, our politicians, and to our public officials to inspire and lead with yet another “first” for Limerick – not just shared spaces but safe shared spaces for Limerick City and County.

#LiveableLimerick Committee

#LiveableLimerick is a social movement of volunteers who love their city and want to bring about change to make it more liveable place to reside. We want to see Limerick city centre to become the most desirable, safe and fun place to live, work, shop and visit. Limerick deserves the best, let’s plan for the future by designing best-in-class public realm and urban mobility strategies for all who use our city.

Lean on Me

Screenshot 2020-04-17 at 12.25.42Volunteer led initiative launched to help generate cash flow from neighbours for Limerick based SMEs through the COVID-19 period

  • New initiative is called Lean on me and is led by a number of well-known local volunteers from Limerick
  • Aim is to generate essential cashflows for local SMEs by helping customers to pay today for a voucher which will be redeemed at a later date when the chosen businesses reopen
  • Even if the shop is closed, people can pay for the vouchers through the online portal leanonme.eu
  • Aimed at small and medium sized local Limerick businesses that mean so much to so many people from coffee shops, barbers, hairdressers, butchers and every other local business we value
  • The pilot project is going live this coming week with some 20 city businesses. Other businesses and towns in the county are coming online very shortly.
  • Other businesses are free to apply to join.

LIMERICK, Friday 17th April 2020

Lean on me is an initiative devised by @LiveableLimerick and a group of local volunteers to help local Limerick businesses. The new volunteer led initiative uses smart technology to connect customers who want to support their favourite local business. The aim of Lean on me is to act as a conduit between every person who feel that they can contribute some cash and their favourite business. The new web portal www.leanonme.eu allows customers to pay for a voucher for their chosen local business which is collected at a later date after the business reopens.

The initiative especially helps business that do not have the existing IT infrastructure to generate very essential cash flow and sell vouchers online. The overall goal of Lean on me is to re-start the cashflow for local businesses. While businesses may have closed their doors and the cash dried up – the bills have not. Lean on me wants to ensure that local businesses re-open and flourish when the time is right. The people of Limerick’s immediate support will help business to re-open in the coming months.

The businesses hosted on Lean on me are businesses that everyone really wants to see open when we return back to normal. They are businesses that mean something to you (and us!). They are businesses that are not big enough to survive this on their own. The list of criteria is short, but it is important that as many people and businesses as possible get involved.

Criteria:

  • Independent retailer, or small chain with local origins
  • Locally operated and managed
  • Essential to the personality and fabric of Limerick
  • Irreplaceable if not sustained

The online portal, www.leanonme.eu, was built by Sean Ryan and his team at elive (a local Limerick business) while Pat Fitzgerald and his team at Grid Finance (another local business) will manage the safe transfer of funds from the customer to the business. This process is supported by a wider team of local volunteers from all different types of backgrounds but with one aim – to keep our favourite businesses going.

The idea started when local business leaders John Moran and Joe Brooks found a shared desire to support their favourite local Limerick businesses throughout the COVID-19 lockdown period. Since then, they have rallied the troops, using the #liveablelimerick network and found no shortage of volunteers with Will Ryan of the Limerick Post, local economist Seán Golden and Miriam O’Connor of Sellors Solicitors quickly showing an interest in getting involved.

The Lean on me team now stands at 10 direct volunteers with much more help coming from the wider community in Limerick as the days go on. Because of the travel restrictions, the team would particularly like to have other local business champions from all across the county make contact to see how the network of participating businesses to be supported can be expanded.

The process is simple. For vendors, they register their details on www.leanonme.eu and supply the relevant information then create awareness amongst the local community that they are now “open for business”. For customers it is just as easy, log on to www.leanonme.eu purchase a coupon (or coupons) for your business of choice and the retailer will reach out to you directly to discuss how you can redeem your voucher(s). While the process is simple, it will go a long way in helping the local business that we care most about. After all, SMEs in Limerick account for more than 44% of total employment, they are often the linchpin of many local communities and they are the businesses where many of us began our careers.

The website will go live on Monday 20th of April with business and customers both being able to start supporting each other.

A full list of businesses volunteering their time to set up and support Lean on me are:

RHH International

Limerick Post

Grid Finance

Sellors Solicitors

elive

Tola

Chair of #LiveableLimerick and founding member of Lean on me, John Moran, said

“Limerick is, above all, a county with a strong sense of community and belonging. We know how to survive by supporting each other. Lean on me looks to help our small businesses out by allowing them to rely on all of us just a little to get through this. Even €10 makes a big difference to a small business if enough people are able to contribute. Small and medium enterprises employ a substantial amount of people in both Limerick City and County they sustain a greater number of families through employment and operating in local areas. We want this to continue.”

Founding member of Lean on me, Joe Brooks, said

“These are businesses that we all care about, they are part of the fabric of Limerick City and County. They provide us with our daily coffee, our groceries, clothing and even the odd social gathering at the weekend. We want, and need, to see these businesses reopen. To let these businesses fight this period on their own does not coincide with the Limerick spirit. While we appreciate and empathise with many people not being in a position to continue to support their local favourite business, we hope there are many people out there that are lucky enough to still be in a position to offer support now when their local business needs it more than ever.”

Sean Ryan, Managing Director of elive and member of Lean on me, said

“It is great to see such a community spirit when it comes to supporting local business. Being part of a local business myself I know how important this will be in keeping them going. It is great to see such a large amount of local businesses looking to support other local business, from Pat and his team at Grid Finance, to Will’s team at the Limerick Post and Miriam’s team at Sellors everyone showed a real appetite to volunteer their time from the get go and get this system up and running. The process is really straight forward the customer comes to www.leanonme.eu and they select their amount and their chosen business input their payment information and that’s it. They will receive a confirmation receipt and the retailer will reach out letting them know how to redeem their voucher”

Further information Contact

 Lean on me

Sean.christopher.golden@gmail.com

Seán Golden

 

 

Mapping Limerick’s #VirtualMeitheal

The Covid-19 pandemic has presented our society with an unprecedented challenge.   But make no mistake, we will get through this Limerick and recover quickly.   

The coming days and weeks will require EVERY ONE of us to help play our part to protect lives.  It is as simple as that.  We are in this together and stronger as one community.

Together, we have teamed up to make ours and your individual efforts most efficient.

We are creating our own Limerick virtual Meitheal and mapping it all in one place – http://www.limerick.live. 

Fintan Walsh of the Limerick Leader, Liveable Limerick, Limerick Chamber, Limerick Post, Limerick Leader, Team Limerick Cleanup and Limerick Tidy Towns and the University of Limerick Students Union are all on board. You can be too.

Reinventing Fintan Walsh’s (Limerick Leader) great GE2020 map tool, we now have his #selfisolationhelp map for Limerick.

If you need help, to find an open pharmacy, to get someone to delivery you food, or you’ve run of gas for your heat and need someone to help, use the map to find the right help or volunteer nearby. 

People have been letting us know already that they are available to help or are already actively doing so.  We are starting to map them all.

Click on the map below and see if your neighbourhood is light on volunteers and put your hand up (virtually) to come on board and we can let others know you can help. 

Email us on info@liveablelimerick.com, follow @liveablelimk or any of our partners and we’ll try and make the connection.

Limerick has the Edge that is needed to take the right steps over the coming weeks. Limerick has the Embrace that is needed to show solidarity and support to all.

Lots of people are out there wanting to help and many need help.  We want now to help join the dots.

What is the Virtual Meitheal?

Many years ago, communities in Ireland came together to help their neighbours physically – to save hay, to foot turf, whatever.

This time, we need to limit our gathering in person.  But we can still work together.

This mapping initiative will use new technologies to allow us to help each other.

We are relying on everyone to get involved where they can.

#FlattenTheCurve

€2bn urban neighbourhood in Limerick city centre

Development of a €2 billion scheme with 10,000 homes in Limerick City moved a step closer on Friday after the State-sponsored Land Development Agency (LDA) outlined plans for the site.

The LDA, established to co-ordinate land within State control for optimal use, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Limerick City and County Council, the HSE and CIÉ to create a master plan for the brownfield site located at Limerick’s Colbert train station.
The 123 acre (50 hectare) site has the capacity for 10,000 homes, most of which will be apartments. With an expected cost of €200,000 per unit, the total residential element of the site will cost about €2 billion. It’s understood that the parties are looking at progressing the project on the basis of the site ownership staying as it currently is.

Chairman of the LDA, John Moran, said: “The initiative at Colbert Station represents a significant step forward for us in delivering on our nationwide remit to help harness the growth potential of cities throughout Ireland,” said Mr Moran.

“I am thrilled to see such ambition coming from our own team, the other stakeholders and signatories to embark on a project of this scale. Its city centre location at Limerick’s main regional and intercity transport hub will show the value of and deliver a very desirable “transit oriented development”. That form of development will be the key for the future to fostering cohesion and sustainable living in this new local community. Healthy living without car dependency can now become a reality for thousands of new residents in Limerick,” he added.

John Coleman, CEO of the LDA, said: “The area at Colbert Station provides the scale required to deliver transformative redevelopment projects which are at the core of the LDA’s mandate. The LDA is an agency with a national remit and the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding represents a significant step forward for the LDA’s footprint in cities outside Dublin.

XMAS Dash – 6 Sleeps & Counting!

Last year, for the first time ever in Limerick City, #LiveableLimerick organised a very successful and enjoyable Christmas Dash to raise funds for homeless services organisations Novas and Peter McVerry Trust.

#LiveableLimerick in conjunction with LCCC held a series of charity Christmas Dashes on O’Connell Street, which was fully open to the public, demonstrating the streets of Limerick can play host not just to cars, but to fun participatory inclusive events.

This year, we want it to be even bigger!

Transition Year students may be interested in this event to raise funds for homeless charities in Limerick next Sunday – with the turning on of Christmas Lights in Limerick City.  We invite schools to get involved.
Additional information: www.liveablelimerick.com
(Twitter- @LiveableLimk)

Screenshot 2019-11-11 at 11.12.05.png

#LIVEABLELIMERICK submission on Part 8 Planning Application for the Revitalisation of O’Connell Street, Limerick

LCCC Design Statement


‘O’Connell Street as “Limerick’s signature street, a desirable place to live, work and shop which embraces Limerick’s rich Georgian Heritage” Part 8 Planning Report, July 2019, P.2

For too long Limerick has been left behind. Ambition, imagination and creativity in Galway, Cork, Waterford and Dublin have created thriving, successful, buzzy places that are by comparison to Limerick wildly-attractive to visitors, residents, students and high-skilled workers.

Clare County Council are busy imagining an exciting new pedestrian-friendly town right on our doorstep. And the gap between us and our neighbours is widening despite our efforts at renewal.

We have a once in a generation opportunity to reverse this out-dated choice chosen at a time when the city centre was the only route to get across the city as a National Route and when our centre location was not viewed as a place we wanted to encourage people to live. Done well, we could not only catch-up with but even overtake our competition?

Once more, we call for an ambitious redesign that moves Limerick out of the second or even third division of European cities.

LCCC Design Statement:

‘While O’Connell Street is a critical thoroughfare for Limerick City at present, this project seeks to redress this through placemaking along O’Connell Street and its immediate vicinity’ Part 8 Planning Report, July 2019, P.1

Central to the design of this scheme is a traffic management strategy to maintain ‘through-traffic’ on O’Connell Street. #LiveableLimerick submit that the concept of O’Connell Street as a ‘movement corridor’ remains the most significant negative aspect of the proposal as presented. The placemaking solutions offered, which we make observations on below, cannot and will not mitigate against the negative effect of through-traffic on the use of O’Connell Street by pedestrians of all ages and abilities, cyclists, and people with additional needs.

It doesn’t matter how it is dressed up, a ‘movement corridor’ for vehicles is a road and not a destination. The proposal does not and cannot put people to the forefront while through traffic and vehicular modes of transport are a priority in the design.

Shared surfaces/streets can work, but they do not work in this design. The proposals for shared- surfaces in this format are dangerous and a risk to the safety of our most vulnerable street users (examined in detail under item 4. below).

1. Traffic Volume

2. Traffic Speed

3. Public Space

4. Shared Surface Streets

5. Cycling

6. Materials

1. TRAFFIC VOLUME

LCCC Design Statement:

The O’Connell Street Revitalisation Project will create a backdrop to more positive engagement with the city through much-reduced traffic volumes’ Part 8 Planning Report, July 2019, P.1

With reference to 4.4.1 and 4.4.2 in your planning report, we do not believe that the proposals in so far as they retain two lanes of one way through-traffic for the duration of the four blocks 270m will reduce traffic volumes in any meaningful way. The visuals presented assume great success in this respect showing a much different atmosphere on the street and only single or single digit number of vehicles in each frame competing for space with other users. But these visual cannot be realised by the current plan.

While one lane is to be converted to a bus lane, this lane can be used by taxis also. Unauthorised traffic using Bus Lanes in Limerick is generally unenforced. This means no significant change in traffic volume.

The objective to have much-reduced traffic volumes might have been a good start to reversing the through traffic-shared surface contradictions if for other reasons in the absence of a mobility plan, it was not possible in 2019 to go the full desirable step.

Indeed, the very fact that it was felt necessary to reinstate the second lane compared to the prior proposals in order to carry a bus lane, by definition suggests that the modelling of traffic after implementation must encounter significant congestion on the single traffic lane option for which the bus corridor is required.

A modelling exercise was carried out on these options and the results showed the current proposal will have the least negative impact on current traffic volumes across the city. Limerick’s current car infrastructure is not ready to accept significant additional car traffic diverted from O’Connell Street. To eliminate cars completely from O’Connell Street would require further analysis of the entire mobility network and potentially significant work to be carried out on streets and roads across the city.

O’Connell Street Revitalisation – FAQs

Negative impact on traffic volumes should not be a priority in placemaking.

The Traffic Modelling carried out by Systra was not included in your Part 8 Documentation. We believe this should be shared in order to allow the public and NGOs to assess these conclusions in their own right. We would call for publication of the current traffic volumes showing the number of motor vehicles which pass through each block every hour? Based on your traffic modelling for example what is the proposed reduction in traffic volumes per hour? How is this projected to change as populations grow or new facilities like the Opera Centre, UL, and Rugby Experience come on line?

The core principle of your proposal is to retain O’Connell Street as a major vehicular route through Limerick City, falling under the definition of an Arterial Street.

DMURS defines Arterial Streets as:

These are the major routes via which major centres/nodes are connected. They may also include orbital or cross metropolitan routes within cities and larger towns. DMURS

The function of this street remains therefore movement of vehicles, and no amount of new paving, seating or water features will change that function while the route is maintained as an arterial street. O’Connell street layout and carriage widths as proposed, is designed for an Arterial street and not a ‘Shared surface street’ suitable for pedestrians to share with vehicles and cyclists, as defined by DMURS, statutory guidelines.

Even if councillors believe in 2019 the arterial route must be maintained, we believe the Councillors should only agree to the proposals if accompanied by a concrete plan with specific steps and deadlines which facilitate reversal of this decision as soon as possible. This plan should include measures added immediately to encourage drivers to use these alternative routes even before the engineering works proposed are implemented and revisit measures to improve the safely of those using the “shared space” in the interim.

Recommendation 1 It is inconsistent with the objective of creating a destination and shared space to allow O’Connell Street to be used as an Arterial Street. We do not believe that this is a requirement in grid-patterned Limerick which presents many more options to cross the city even today. We call on the councillors to reverse this fundamental guiding principle.

2. TRAFFIC SPEED

The one-way traffic system promotes speed.

DMURS says

The use of one-way systems for traffic management should also be approached with caution by designers as they: Promote faster speeds as drivers are likely to drive faster when no risk is perceived from oncoming traffic. DMURS 3.4.1

The current traffic speed on O’Connell Street is 50km/h. You propose to reduce the speed to 30km/h. Currently, it appears that the speed limit on the street is not adhered to, with vehicles driving far in excess of the speed limits, especially in the evenings when traffic volumes are lower. Is there available data on the current traffic speed as it occurs in real time? Reduced traffic volumes without other measures (such as ramping up at junctions on O’Connell Street, which we discuss further below), will in fact contribute to higher speeds on the street, especially at off peak times. If speed limits are not being adhered to currently, how do you propose to enforce a 30kn/h speed limit once completed? We look at traffic speed below as it relates to the shared surface proposals.

Traffic signalling and speed

The proposed scheme does not include any information on traffic signalling proposals. We wish to get confirmation on this aspect of the proposal.

The introduction of four way stop signalling at junctions has for example been discovered to be a much safer way of dealing with cross streets in a shared space environment as it automatically encourages caution at junctions rather than speeding to make lights or race away on green to the next one.

Recommendation 2a. We believe that the proposals in whatever form adopted should include a more significant reduction of maximum speeds to sub 15km. This would apply to cars, buses, scooters and bikes and make it clear to all that vulnerable pedestrian users of the zone must be protected against accidental accidents not by being locked away behind bollards (a design inconsistent with a shared space) but by reduced speed for all. For best success, this limit should be extended immediately to all of the Georgian Quarter so that drivers are clear ALL streets are included, making enforcement easier too.

Recommendation 2b Consider replacement of traffic light signalling at junctions with 4-way stop sign junctions or pedestrian priority.

3. PUBLIC SPACE

The creation of plazas and large areas of public realm will emphasise to motorists on the street that O’Connell Street is a place as well as a link for through movement, and increase visibility of pedestrians and vulnerable road users. O’Connell Street Revitalisation – FAQs

Unfortunately, by the standards of what is happening in other cities, despite the confidence of this answer, this proposal is devoid of ‘plazas’ and ‘large areas of public realm’. It is a two-lane, one-way road right through the heart of our historic city centre, masquerading as ‘shared space’. The concept of the shared space is discussed in more detail in 4. below. The areas in front of Penneys, the Augustinians’ and the proposed Rugby Museum are only differentiated from the rest of the street by the colour of the paving although we do welcome the permanent retention of the wider pedestrian pavement in front of Penneys. The arterial road (movement corridor) runs through all these spaces, where cars and buses are proposed to travel at 30km/h can drive through without any restriction. They cannot, therefore be identified as plazas. Only the area in front of the proposed Rugby Museum has a graded ramp up, which might in some way slow the traffic but again it is designed to prevent significant gathering of people. The decisions to prioritise road traffic and failure to provide public spaces in front of our museums, Hunt, City Museum, City Gallery and now Rugby Experience deprives the city of the gathering places in front of such civic amenities so common in cities across the Continent.

By contrast, if the position recommended above to not treat O’Connell Street as an arterial route for neither cars nor buses were adopted, this would facilitate the introduction of a significant (and real) plaza. Such a change would add real value to the design and also transform the visitor experience and dividend from visitors to the city centre.

The primary objective of this project is to rebalance O’Connell Street as a public space for all citizens. Public spaces influence the daily interactions that take place at community level, and this has been successfully taken on by cities abroad such as Copenhagen, Newcastle, Bristol and Lisbon. What these cities have in common is a convivial and more walkable public realm which has, in turn, resulted in more liveable cities. O’Connell Street Revitalisation – FAQs

Copenhagen

Copenhagen’s main street Stroget was converted into a pedestrian promenade in 1962. Between 1962 and 2005 the area devoted to pedestrians in the city grew by a factor of 7, increasing from 15,000m2 to 100,000m2. Jan Gehl, Cities for People’. The conclusion from Copenhagen is unequivocal: if people rather than cars are invited into the city, pedestrian traffic and city life increase correspondingly’. Your proposal bears no resemblance to anything in Copenhagen, in fact your insistence on retaining two-lanes of one-way through traffic moving through our cities Main Street is the direct antithesis of what has been achieved in Copenhagen over the last 57 years.

Newcastle

The regeneration of Newcastle’s Grainger Town is a worthy comparison for a revitalisation of Georgian Limerick, and one that should be studied at in more detail.

‘The plan provided a multi-layered conservation-planning approach designed to complement the architectural and historic character and significance of the area. … The Project funded major improvements to the public realm, incorporating pedestrianisation, laying of Caithness stone paving with granite kerbs and the introduction of new bespoke street furniture.’ English Heritage, Newcastle’s Grainger Town, an Urban Renaissance.

Bristol ‘Old City public realm project – A key element of the public realm improvements strategy in the Old City is the removal of through traffic and parking, to enable the streets to be opened up for more pedestrian friendly uses.’ Nelson Street public realm strategy

When consultations began in 2016, #LiveableLimerick asks that a master plan be prepared for the Newtown Pery as a whole in order to inform the design of O’Connell Street. Your proposal as presented is a stop gap approach, allowing the status quo to continue without any firm commitment to the future use of the street. Again, you reference a great example, but your project does not stand up to ‘good international practice’.

Recommendation 3a Key pedestrianised areas need to identified and indeed be designed as plazas for gathering of people not just as wider pavements to facilitate café terraces or more pedestrian throughflow. Calling them plazas does not make them so.

4. SHARED SURFACE STREETS

Examples in Ireland of ‘shared spaces/streets’ which do not work

Howley’s Quay, Limerick

The shared space on Howley’s key does not work as a shared space. The traffic has priority and the space works as a through road, not a public space. Even during festivals in the city, pedestrians are pushed to the footpaths and cars dominate the ‘shared space’.

GPO, O’Connell Street, Dublin.

The shared space in front of the GPO in Dublin has been a spectacular failure. The two lanes of one-way traffic (a public transport corridor) on each side of a central median, is dangerous to cross and pedestrians have no priority, let alone any ability to share what essentially two road lanes with bumper to bumper double decker buses.

Examples in Ireland of ‘shared spaces/streets’ which do work

Clonakilty urban design and public realm improvement has been a huge success. Key to it’s success has been the significant slowing of car traffic, which can slowly move through it’s street using one lane only.

While shared surfaces can and do work, we submit that you proposal to retain the two-lane, one-way, movement corridor, with traffic moving at 30kn/h, a shared street proposal will not work.

DMURS (Design Manual for Urban Streets and Roads 2011) states:

Shared surface streets and junctions are highly desirable where:

Pedestrian activities are high and vehicle movements are only required for lower- level access or circulatory purposes. This include streets within Centres where a shared surface may be preferable over full pedestrianisation to ensure sufficient activity occurs during the daytime and the evening period. DMURS 4.3.4

Your proposal is not for lower level access of circulatory vehicle movement, it is for ‘through traffic’ via a ‘main thoroughfare’ that is O’Connell Street and until the through-traffic is prevented from using the street, then we submit that share surface is inappropriate and a serious safety hazard for pedestrians.

Traffic speed on the share surface

DMURS states:

The key condition for the design of any shared surface is that drivers, upon entering the street, recognise that they are in a shared space and react by driving very slowly (i.e.20km/h or less). DMURS 4.3.4

DMURS also states

Local Authorities may introduce advisory speed limits of 10-20km/where it is proposed that vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists share the main carriageway. DMURS 4.1.1

While a reduction in vehicular speed from 50km is welcome, there is a conflict with the speed limit and the proposal to convert three out of the four blocks into shared-surface streets. We submit that the 30km speed limit is too fast for the shared street. It will be a safety issue for pedestrians, especially young children, older people and those with visual impairment and additional needs. The speed should be 10-20km/h as per statutory guidelines DMURS.

Blue Irish limestone is the selected paving with the addition of coloured recycled glass tiles that reflect the Clonakilty streetscape colours.

We also note that the proposed shared surface runs for three entire blocks without any mechanisms to slow traffic, ramping up Denmark Street and ramping down after the Roches Street junction.

Lane (carraigeway) width on the shared surface

DMURS states:

The total carriageway width on Local streets where a shared surface is provided should not exceed 4.8m.

Your propose a carraigeway width varying from 6m to 6.25m and in fact if the street is measured between bollards, the carriageway is closer to 6.85m, a whole 2 meters wider that what is recommended for shared streets. This width is required for Arterial and Link Streets where ‘access for larger vehicles are occasionally required’. Wider street promote faster vehicle speeds.

Your proposal appears to be driven by the requirements of the NTA to keep all your options open for use of O’Connell Street as a transport artery. But this is our greatest street, one that should be a destination in itself. Its use should be for the people of Limerick, visitors, shoppers, workers, residents and as such, pedestrians should be the priority. The current proposal priorities the movement of vehicles, not people, and the blatant disregard for DMURS legislation will put people’s lives and wellbeing at risk.

Recommendation 4a The design objectives for shared spaces, some of which are set out above need to be the primary driver of design choices. The Councillor need to make clear that in the case of conflict, shared space design should win over arterial route not the other way around.

Recommendation 4b We recommend that the proposals should be re-evaluated by an independent experienced expert to ensure they adhere to current best practice, DMURS and shared space design principles (some outlined above) to guide Councillors’ responses to proposed design choices.

5. CYCLING

Design Statement:

Due to the existing one-way system within the city centre, and the limited cycle network, it was not proposed to include cycle lanes on Phase 1 of the O’Connell Street Revitalisation as it would not provide additional cyclist connections over the relatively short length of the scheme. Part 8 Planning Report, July 2019, 4.4.5

We are very disappointed that no provisions have been made to incorporate safe cycling within the scheme. Safe cycling infrastructure is a key component of a liveable city.

LCCC Design Statement:

However, the inclusion of the bus lane on the eastern side provides a less heavily-trafficked lane for use by cyclists, improving ease of movement southbound. Part 8 Planning Report, July 2019, 4.4.5

In order for a safe cycling network to work, it must be safe for an eight year old to cycle unaccompanied. Your proposal that cyclists share an Arterial road with Buses, taxis and private cars is a terrifying prospect for parents of children and teenagers who might use this street. What are your proposals for children to access the cycle racks proposed for O’Connell Street?

6. MATERIALS

Limestone is the traditional material of footpaths in Newtown Pery. The proposal to use 10 different surface finishes in a range of colours and textures colour from silver, buff, grey and pink is not appropriate for an historic street. Clonakilty 400 Urban Design, Ennis Town Centre and Waterford Viking Triangle are good examples of the use of high quality Irish Limestone in historic centres.

Each intervention in Limerick seems to have brought its own choice, brick (eg Cruises Street, various junctions), concrete (still being used opposite Peoples Park and at the Crescent for the most recent interventions), grey stone (Colbert Station), yellow (Bedford Row), and so on depending on the preferences of the individual architect. This is not a desirable way to treat the surfaces particularly in the historic centre.

Recommendation 5a. In the absence of cycle lanes, alternative measures should be introduced immediately to protect users of the street of all ages and abilities on bikes or other forms of vulnerable transport. Implementation of Recommendation 2a. above would be low cost and yet significantly help in this respect by reducing the risk of collision and the impact of same should it occur.

Recommendation 6. Before any final choices are made on such a major location, a historic wide city choice for all surface finishes across Newtown Pery needs to be adopted by the Council and choices here should be consistent with that. The patchwork of finishes throughout our city must stop. We have recommended Limestone as a traditional choice which could also where desirable be complemented (with lighting and other installations) so as to create a more contemporary feel.

CONCLUSION

Following a lengthy three year consultation process which involved much public engagement and a widespread demand for something transformational and ambitious, #LiveableLimerick are dismayed that this proposal fails to deliver on the Executive’s own stated vision for a transformative project for Limerick’s greatest street.

Admirable objectives have been hi-jacked and made impossible by one single design choice – to impact least significantly on through traffic. True, removal of through traffic would cause some disruption but we believe the negative impact on a small group is much outweighed by the advantages of creating a genuine shared space in that location to surrounding retail, to people living in the city and to those who come to visit and spend time in the city centre in terms of safely from collision and clean air and noise pollution. We also believe that the inconvenienced group (the through-traffic) in a city which is grid-patterned and not very congested also have many other options available even today before any other changes are made or roads built – especially in terms of traffic crossing over the city in a north-south direction.

We appreciate that a huge amount of time has been put into the project to date. However, the proposed two lane ‘movement corridor’, in any of the configurations outlined, remains a transport movement corridor and not a destination. It is therefore likely to fail in its objectives to revitalise the city centre. More worryingly by drawing on design principles from two contradictory objectives, it is at significant risk of exposing users to very dangerous conditions and Councillors need to be very aware of this.

Given the amount of money proposed to be spent and the disruption it will cause to visitors, residents, workers and traders, we call on the Local Councillors to interrogate this proposal, taking into account the recommendations set out above in the paramount interest of the safety of the users of the space. We believe that a better, transformative project is possible for our city.

We call on Councillors to put people to the centre of the design, take the brave decision to design a street to a standard worthy to take its place alongside other national and international cities.

We recognise that the Councillors have to weigh up many different considerations in making their decision and that is their decision. We have tried therefore in making the submission above to be helpful by drawing on the expertise available to us as a group to help inform their decision.

We are available to discuss this with Councillors and officials individually or as a group for further clarification.


Limerick votes Yes

PRESS RELEASE

Limerick May 27, 2019

Following the results of the plebiscite on a directly elected mayor, #LiveableLimerick has today issued the following statement:-

Democracy is the bedrock of a progressive, inclusive and respectful society. We are delighted to see Limerick will become the first Irish county to have a democratically directly elected mayor. We are very hopeful that Cork city will take the same path.

Limerick’s renaissance must continue. Better liveability and affordability in the face of well identified 21st Century challenges and significant population growth require a single vision for the entire county. Better consultation facilitated by a directly elected mayor must become the norm to ensure that the people of the entire county of Limerick feel decisions truly reflect their desires for a better and more ambitious Limerick.

The people of Limerick have spoken. We now call on the government to legislate this reform quickly. This will reinforce that there is only one Limerick, a progressive, inclusive and diverse county with rich rural communities and ever more dynamic urban city and key towns.

We believe that a message has also been clearly sent that extra powers and budget on many other areas like transport need to be given to the mayor more quickly and we call on the Minister not to long-finger proposals to do this.

We recognise that all electoral areas of Limerick did not vote Yes to the same degree and we at #LiveableLimerick commit to engaging to understand their concerns and becoming their advocate to ensure those concerns are taken on board as the proposal is further formulated.

Many people were involved in the campaign. We want first and foremost to thank our own supporters who worked so tirelessly for this. We want also though to thank all of the others who recognised like us the importance of this issue for Limerick and rallied to the cause to do what was required to not lose the opportunity for a better Limerick.

#LiveableLimerick Committee