03 Jul 2022

Kilkenny traders urge end to city's one-way system ahead of crucial decision

Calls for it to revert to two-way until survey done and long-term solution identified


One-way system in operation

More than 100 signatories from a variety of Kilkenny City businesses are urging local councillors not to extend the current one-way system for another year.

The system, which was introduced in 2020 as a temporary Covid safety measure, remains in place after members last June agreed to extend it for another year. A meeting of the City Municipal District is to take place tomorrow (Friday) where councillors will decide to extend it for a further period, or end it.

The system has been raised as an issue again following the end of most other Covid restrictions in recent weeks. Previous surveys carried out showed many city businesses opposing its retention as a longer-term traffic management solution.

They argue it has worsened congestion and made access to areas, such as John Street, more difficult. In their letter sent to city councillors this week, the Kilkenny City Centre Business Association urge the removal of the system.

“Now that Covid-related restrictions have been withdrawn, the one-way system should also be removed and two-way traffic should resume in the city,” the letter says.

The traders say they accepted the system as proposed in 2020 as a temporary measure to facilitate social distancing and allow people to safely shop.

“We are now being told the one-way system is being kept in order to measure traffic flow,” says the letter. “This is a betrayal of the good faith traders entered into when accepting the one-way system.”

The letter goes on to describe the system as no longer fit for purpose. Martin Costello, of Murphy’s Jewellers and the City Centre Business Association, accepts that it may be less of an issue for people living in town, but has a detrimental effect on people travelling in from outside the city.

“Kilkenny has a wide hinterland for retail and business,” he says. “John Street doesn’t have a one-way system, but it’s the street most vehemently against it. People come in and don’t bother if they have to filter up High Street, around by Bateman Quay. We have had customers say to us ‘I hate coming into town’ or they avoid it.

“This was a temporary system brought in for Covid, and we were promised there was no way it would be kept.”

Mr Costello says it is not just a blanket opposition to one-way in general, and some would be happy with a one-way if it was ‘done right’. He says there is even appetite from some for part-pedestrianisation, with a ‘shared space’ model preferred by most.

“It would get rid of a lot of traffic and be a much nicer street. It’s not that we particularly want people in cars, but we are a rural city, and for people to come in to work or shop they have to drive in,” Mr Costello says.

“In an ideal world, we would revert to the two-way system, do the survey, and have consultation with businesses and the public. Then, ideally, shared space with pedestrian prioritisation, space for people to walk and cycle.”

The plan now, says Mr Costello, is to meet the seven city councillors to discuss the matter.

“We hope they will sit and talk before they make a decision that will affect all of our livelihoods. There are hundreds of people employed in these businesses,” he said.

It is believed that, currently, the seven councillors have varying views on the system, with some supporting its retention and others inclined to revert to two-way.

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