Climate notes for July 2024

Since deciding to move this little website over to a monthly periodical, I figured I should focus my energy on one salient point rather than a dozen hot-takes in short-form. And this month, I decided to take out my ire on someone we all knew was going to be absolutely atrocious; and boy were we correct.

Dublin has an odd setup for governance, one that will hopefully change in the coming few years as we shift towards a properly elected mayor who has regional/local powers, budget, etc.

The former Dublin "CEO" (what a ridiculous title) was Owen Keegan, an absolute piece of work that hated Dublin more than anyone possibly could. I don't know what the city did to him, but when he was "CEO" of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown he was no different. He was in DLR for 7 years before taking a decade to do fuck all for Dublin afterwards. Apparently the only way to get his attention was to be a pretend lobby group comprised entirely of a few people who own car parks in the city. He was an absolute stain on the city.

And to make it more obvious, DLR saw sweeping low-hanging-fruit changes for the better the second he left that office, making the area more accessible to bikes, folks with disabilities, pedestrians, etc. All boosting the local economic output of coffee shops, stores, restaurants, etc. There's lots to do but the area is great.

Keegan was put out to pasture, to be replaced by his deputy, because not only is it outrageous that Dublin has an unelected "CEO" that represents a few car parks exclusively, but apparently it's also some sort of dynasty where a seat isn't earned by merit at all. In comes Dick Shakespeare. And by all accounts, he was due to establish no change and be a dick to everyone. Business as usual.

And here we fucking are.

About a decade of work has gone into planning for new rules, changes, layouts and just general 'sprucing up' of a city that is logjammed with traffic. The vast, vast majority of that traffic is through-traffic. Which is to say that drivers are using the roads in the city centre to get north-to-south, without really stopping in the city at all. That traffic is intense, causing major delays at crunch points all over the city, making public transport less effective, causing noise pollution, high emissions and making it less safe for other city users; notably folks walking around or cycling. I walk, cycle or use public transport exclusively when going in/out of the city (primarily to my office, located in Dublin 2) and the car situation makes the whole thing a disaster. And dangerous.

To quote Dublin Bus CEO, Billy Han, "the dominance of private cars in Dublin are the biggest barrier to faster and more reliable bus services, adding that cars using the city as a route to reach a destination outside of the City Centre take up vital road space and increase journey times for people using Dublin Bus".

Car users only account for less than a quarter of all spending in the city, but probably account for two-thirds of all congestion. If buses, the LUAS, walking and cycling were safer and more viable (and they are, they're just clogged by cars), then even less cars would be necessary to get into our urban areas. Yes we're focusing on Dublin City Centre, but I feel the same about the outskirts of the city (Phibsboro, Stoneybatter, Ranelagh, etc. etc.).

The plan was due to begin rolling out changes at the end of summer. As in, within the coming weeks. But our new glorious leader decided that he should meet with the mysterious lobby group representing "businesses". That group primarily owns car parks and is somewhere in the range of half-a-dozen companies. That's bad enough, given the timeline we're on. But then he refused to meet anyone else. Notably Dublin Commuter Coalition.

There is a plan to protest and start taking action here. This absolute clown is not liked by most Cllrs (who are elected), TDs (also elected) or actual Dubliners (who should be electing a mayor, not being subjected by decree of a "CEO").

Yes, protest, write to your local elected officials, particularly the ones in sitting government. Be courteous, kind and state the facts. Show up to protests. Be loud. But let this be a movement to make Dublin better by implementing progressive plans for a city currently choked by cars (think about how absolutely absurd that is to begin with). But let's make sure no CEO fuckwit gets to mess around like this again. The city is not the toy of a sole individual with no soul.

I said it at the outset and I'll repeat it here, the CEO of Dublin City and a lot of Dublin City Council's operations make it apparent that no one hates Dublin more than these people tasked with making it run well.