One-way system in operation
The one-way system on High Street and Rose Inn Street in Kilkenny looks set to remain in place for the duration of the pandemic to facilitate continued social distancing.
It was introduced in June as a means of allowing pedestrians and shoppers return to streets and keep their social distance as the first lockdown was lifted. At that time, it was agreed the system would be reviewed after the first few months.
On Friday, days prior to the announcement of the second lockdown, city councillors agreed the system should be retained for now. Council director of services Tim Butler said the scheme had been introduced to ensure additional priority was given to pedestrians and visitors to the city centre, and it had achieved that in High Street and Rose Inn Street.
Three surveys have been carried out – one of businesses by the Chamber of Commerce, and two by the council for businesses and the general public. Mr Butler said the Chamber’s survey and the council’s survey of the public showed the scheme has been largely positively received. The businesses were not as positive, but overall there is satisfaction including in terms of traffic flow.
“I think there is no question that it has allowed for better social distancing, and it has certainly helped to encourage people to come safely back into the city itself,” he said.
The council introduced the measures under a road closure in one direction, which can stay in place for a year, and it will be implemented for as long as the pandemic requires. Mr Butler said the recommendation was that the system remain in place.
“It has largely achieved the goals we would have set for it,” he said.
Councillor Joe Malone, who initially formally proposed the one-way system be adopted, said he was happy to propose its duration be extended.
City engineer Ian Gardner told members that new traffic counts were currently being analysed, and said the scheme put in place was a temporary system.
“One of the factors in designing it was it was something that could be brought in very quickly. So it may not be the best system, long term, for traffic management – and if we are looking at a longer term system, it could be different to what’s there,” he said.
Longer-term solutions are to be scrutinised during the Development Plan process, and further discussions are expected. Ultimately, that will see a shift away from cars and toward more sustainable modes of transport.
“So, how we are going to shape Kilkenny and Kilkenny City — not just for the next six years but for the next 20 years to 2040 —that will be all part of the discussion of the Development Plan,” said Mr Butler.
“Any permanent solutions will have to be guided by a proper traffic model.”
Mr Gardner said the council is working on this and it’s hoped to have a robust model in place by the middle of next year — not just for the city centre but for various schemes around Kilkenny.