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Open Streets



Current Status: Exploring

Project Stage(s): Concept

Live Trial Location(s): Pending > Active > Removed 

(What are the Project Stages?)
(Why are trials removed?)


There are many times when it would be useful to open up streets to people on a part-time, regular or irregular, basis.

We receive many requests for such options, and here are some examples of potential types of uses:

These ​all rely on the core condition of opening up a street to people walking and cycling, rather than the current main use of our streets which is the through-traffic of larger and heavier vehicles such as cars, vans, trucks and buses.

When they're regular, busy and give key visual cues to indicate that they're predominantly pedestrianised (eg the street is all at the same level), they tend to simply rely on legal signage. By their nature, there isn't much requirement for enforcement.  

For example:

  • Grafton Street and Henry Street are pedestrianised 11.00-06.00 (ie 19 out of 24 hours) and allow access for commercial deliveries outside of those hours.

But when they're irregular, quiet streets, or designed to clearly visually and physically separate into lanes (with a step in level between pavements and the carriageway), they tend to also require a physical obstruction to be placed into the roadway in order to both send a clear visual cue to anyone driving or cycling, but also to physically act as the enforcement to prevent anyone from doing so. 

For example: 


It would be useful to find a method that is simple to use, effective, and scalable. More likely, it will be the principle that will be scalable and we'll need a few different methods to suit different scenarios.

The below plan of a T-junction between two streets shows the principle. 

  • The red line is the legal aspect - it is the element that legally closes the street to traffic.
  • Everything in blue is a belt-and-braces addition that then essentially simply becomes objects inside of a pedestrianised space. 

A. Legal Traffic Boundary

  1. Legal traffic signage (eg 'No Entry', 'No Left Turn', 'Pedestrians Only' signage)
  2. Roadworks equipment (cones, bollards, dividers, etc)

B. Physical Obstruction

  1. Manual Bollard (eg removeable bollard, coffin bollard, etc)
  2. Automatic Bollard
  3. Chain / Belt
  4. Gate
  5. Sign (eg A-frame sign)
  6. 'Nice Object' (eg moveable planter box, bench, basketball hoop, etc)

Here are some examples from around the world - ranging from simple/informal to complex/formal.

(A Street Feast party using an informal sign.)

(A Temple Bar Company staff member dropping a removeable bollard in place.)

(A heavy planter and light bollards in use on Suffolk Street, Dublin.)

(A swing gate in France, which can be swung out to temporarily close a street to traffic. Thanks to Élodie for sending this onto us.)

(Automated bollards in Santiago de Compostela - opened via a fob card.)

Here are the required and preferred characteristics of this object:

  1. Easy to put in place, easy to remove.
    • But not too easy to remove by the wrong people.
    • Minimal lifting of heavy weights or awkward shapes.
    • Won't have problems with bicycles locked onto it. (Preventing it from being moved.)
  2. Stays Put
    • Eg not blown over in high winds, not damaged by rain or UV light.
    • Not easy to be used for vandalism (eg thrown through a large shop window)
  3. Maintains Access/Egress as Needed
    • Emergency Services
    • Locals (as necessary)
    • Commercial Deliveries (as necessary) 
    • Cycling (as necessary) 
  4. Ability to Store On-Street
    • This would help mutiple people be keyholders - to increase resilience.
    • An alternative could be that there would be several 'copies' of the object - eg several bollards, or several signs.
    • Minimises street clutter.
  5. Safe 
    • As its role is to act as physical barrier, there's a possiblity that a person driving (and breaking the law) could hit it. So it probably shouldn't invite much interaction (eg a bench or a basketball hoop are probably not suitable). 
    • Won't cause issues for people with disabilities (particularly sight issues). 
  6. Robust
    • Suitable for outdoor use
    • Not easy to vandalise
  7. Useful for the Role
    • Feels sufficiently 'official' 
    • Faciliates a message to be placed onto it.
  8. Suitable for the Location 
    • Feels suitably 'Civic' for use in a capital city
    • Suitable for the type and width of the street 
    • Suitable for the relevant area of the city (for example, architectural conservation areas)
  9. Proportional technology 
    • For example, automated bollards might be suitable for streets which are opening up very regularly, or if there is a need for some form of all-day access by vehicles, or for locations with no 'Repsonsible Agent'. They probably do not make much sense on a suburban street that opens the odd time for a Street Feast.
    • Low-tech, easily replaceable, solutions might best suit occasional, or low-traffic, Open Streets. 

C. Reponsible Agent

  1. None...ie mechanical / automated solution. 
  2. Dublin City Council staff
  3. Aligned organisation (eg Temple Bar Company, Dublin Town)
  4. Organisation / Business 
  5. Resident

D. Storage of Physical Obstruction (directly linked to the option chosen for object B)

  1. In the Carriageway (eg coffin bollard, automatic bollard)
  2. Nearby, On-Street (eg swing gate, nearby storage 'sockets')
  3. Nearby, Off-Street (eg a local lock-up, local shop)
  4. Elsewhere, Off-Street (eg someone arrives with it in their truck, cargo-bike, etc)

E. Other Aspects (eg permissions, insurances, etc)

We'd like to discuss what might work best for each of these items A-E. 



In order to help us to dicuss this topic, we're hoping to trial the B-E aspects on Essex Street West in Temple Bar.

(Click to open in Street View - Essex Street West in Temple Bar West.)

It's already pedestrianised but permits commercial access 06.00-11.00, and so that enables us to take the above red 'item A' off the table, and just focus on the blue aspects B-E.

  • People walk about 12,000 times through this street each day (11,000 during the week and 13,000 at weekends). 
  • About 800 vehicles pass through it on average per day, approximately equal between 4-wheeled vehicles and 2-wheeled vehicles. 
  • About 80% of all the vehicles pass through it during the pedestrianised hours. 
  • (You can see all of the raw vehicle count data here, and we will also make the pedestrian count data public at a later stage.)

Any trial would be fully reversed back to the current scenario following the trial period. 

Item A - Legal Traffic Boundary

This aspect is already established (for over 10 years) - this street is pedestrianised for the majority of the day, and this has been the situation for over a decade, and will be unaffected by this trial. This is one of the reasons for choosing this street to start with -  it enables us to take that aspect of the discussion off the table and focus on the remaining aspects that interest us. 

Item B - The 'Physical Obstruction'


Item C - Responsible Agent

We'll be initially working with Temple Bar Company for this role. They already carry out a similar role in two other locations in Temple Bar. 

Item D - Storage of Physical Obstruction

This may be resolved simply by our selection for item B. 

Item E - Other Aspects

We will update this section as we learn more. 



[Trial not yet complete.]


[Trial not yet complete.]


[Trial not yet complete.]



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