Traffic and parking chaos at Wicklow beaches such as Brittas Bay is causing 'huge problems' as crowds flock to the beaches to enjoy the sunny weather, a local TD says.
Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore says there have been cases where people have passed away on Wicklow beaches as ambulances weren't able to get to them on time.
With temperatures soaring, the likes of Brittas Bay and Magheramore have proven extremely popular - with many beachgoers travelling from neighbouring counties as well.
However, these areas aren't served by public transport - meaning there are lots of people driving but not enough parking facilities at the beaches themselves.
Deputy Whitmore told Lunchtime Live it's great that people are travelling to Wicklow's beaches, but there are obviously traffic problems arising from that.
She explained: “When they find they can’t get parking down [near the beach], they’re parking on the side of the road - causing huge problems for locals, and emergency vehicles getting through.
“We’ve had some very tragic stories where people have actually passed away on the beaches because ambulances weren’t able to get to them in time.
“When we had that first really, really hot spell… it was incredible the way people parked. People had parked on both sides of the roads, essentially turning the road into a single lane - but you had two lanes of traffic trying to get through each other. That was in the Magheramore area, and was incredibly dangerous.”
She said gardaí are managing the situation where possible, towing vehicles and moving people on.
She said she understands people’s frustration when they arrive in the area to find no designated parking spots, but there are “huge safety” issues involved if parked cars block roads or lanes.
Eamon is a local from Brittas Bay and says the traffic issues caused ‘manic’ scenes a few weeks ago.
He said a local landowner has now opened extra fields as parking areas, which has helped alleviate some of the traffic problems.
Another local - Elaine - said she and her family are used to not being able to leave their homes on busy days due to the traffic.
However, she believes people are entitled to their day on the beach - and they won’t know car parks are full before travelling to the Wicklow beaches.
She observed: “We need to accommodate people - we can’t tell people not to come, or they can’t abandon their cars in the ditch even though it makes it very difficult for people and emergency services.
"They need to be accommodated before they get to the end of the road… a park-and-ride system with a bus, rather than funnelling everyone down a tiny country road where there’s nowhere to go.
“We’re delighted to see people - the place is booming and buzzing, and people are in great form. But then you have the people who can’t get there in the end when they’ve driven so long”.
Deputy Whitmore agreed a bus system would be part of the solution, particularly during the summer as these issues happen every year.
The Social Democrats TD also believes there are communication problems that need to be addressed - saying local social media messages aren’t getting through to people travelling from outside the area.
She observed: “Perhaps the council could provide… a real-time update of the traffic and parking situation at the beaches, or even parking signs on the N11 if someone is coming from Dublin.
“If Brittas Bay is full, there are other fabulous beaches that they could go to and still enjoy their day.”