Car Parking Chaos

Parking in Dublin 4

Where to park your car has got to be up there with what people jokingly refer to as “first world problems”. But it’s clear that this issue speaks to more than just the irritations of those of us privileged enough to be able to afford a car.

I came to this issue for a very personal reason – my elderly and bed-bound father lived in a cul-de-sac in Dublin 4. Like everywhere in the area, commuter parking had taken over on the street, which was still not converted to disc parking. The degree of obstruction by vehicles was such that I was concerned that an ambulance could not access the house for large periods of time during the working week. In my family’s case, it never came to the feared crisis, but I was hooked on the issue.

Initially it seems that, while there are differing views, many residential areas of South East Dublin have seamlessly made the transition from free parking areas to disc parking areas, availing of the Council’s balloting system which allows residents in a given street the option of introducing disc parking if they so wish. This means sacrificing their freedom to park when and where they will on their own street without paying for it, but it frees up most streets from commuter parking.

Mr Fred Dunn, of Wilfield Road, has been engaging with the problem of parking for over ten years now. Over the years, the street had become increasingly used by commuters and it became impossible for residents and their visitors to find parking spaces.

Located very close to the Sandymount DART station and the RDS, the pressure on parking on Wilfield Road is intense. All the more so because it is surrounded by streets which do have disc parking in place. A residents’ ballot as per the Dublin City Council regulations rejected the implementation of disc parking, but no alternative options were discussed with residents. The current situation is that the road is filled with cars of commuters during business hours – many of them parked on the footpaths. Mr Dunn has actually seen commuters in the early morning scramble for places and come close to blows over who saw an empty space first.

Parking on the footpath is technically in breach of parking regulations, but is officially tolerated by Dublin City Council, who refuse to clamp cars parked on the footpath on Wilfield Road.
In desperation to get something done about Wilfield Road, Fred wrote to the Office of the Ombudsman, who in turn contacted Dublin City Council. Quoting directly from their correspondence with the Council, the Ombudsman confirmed that footpath parking was “in breach of parking regulations,” and that “it is not Council policy to enforce partial footpath parking on residential roads where parking (legally) on both sides would cause an obstruction.”

So how does this relate to the need to keep streets free of obstruction so that emergency services can access premises where necessary? What makes a lot of sense logistically is putting lives at risk and makes an ass of the law. Permitting commuter parking in this way would appear not only to go against current regulations, but to fly in the face of the Dublin City Development Plan 2011 – 2017, which states that it is the policy of Dublin City Council “To discourage commuter parking and to ensure adequate but not excessive parking provision for short-term shopping, business and leisure use.”
The residents of Wilfield Road seem to be victims of a system which has decided that the law is irrelevant in their case.

By Ruth Kennedy