Banning cars from College Green will make it a “world class plaza”, a Green Party councillor has claimed.
The decision was made in order to create more space for cyclists, walkers and public transport in College Green and reduce carbon emissions.
Cllr Byrne said it is something the Greens have been “pushing for a really long time” on Dublin City Council and predicted it would be transformational.
“It’s a really important project for the city in terms of reaching our transport climate emissions [targets],” she told Newstalk Breakfast.
“But it’s much more than that, we have to stop framing it as ‘banning cars’ and look at it for what it is - ultimately, creating a world class plaza that we see in cities all over Europe.”
Irish Parking Association Chairman Keith Gavin said the decision would negatively impact business in the city centre.
“The economic impact of it has already been seen,” he said.
“From the introduction of the bus gate, in the space of five years, the footfall figures in the city centre dropped off a cliff and the impact of all of these continuous measures - which are anti-car and anti-motorist - are reducing access to the city centre as a retail destination.”
Cllr Byrne disagreed and described it as “not a massive change” given 97% of traffic in the area is either public transport, cyclists or walkers.
“There is huge public support for it - we’ve seen other countries going in this direction,” she said.
“Look what’s happened in Paris, in London, in New York and they haven’t seen a massive impact in terms of retail in the city.
“In Dublin, at the moment, we’re back to pre-COVID levels almost.”
Mr Gavin countered that those cities have a “very effective public transport network” - something Dublin lacks.
“That is changing,” Cllr Byrne said.
“There are unprecedented levels of investment going into public and active transport under Green Party Minister Eamon Ryan and we’re seeing public transport usage go up again over the last while since we reduced fares.
“There is a lot of work to do, I do accept that, but that work is ongoing at the same time.”
The ban on private cars is due to come into effect at the end of the month.
Main image: The Luas tram passes in front of Trinity College Dublin at College Green. Picture by: Alamy.com