A few months ago, my commute changed, and rather than making my way to leafy, affluent, [poxy], suburban South Dublin, I now have a short stroll to work across the city centre. It’s a busy city, so even early in the morning the footpaths are quite hectic, but are far more so in the late afternoon when I’m leaving work. So it is since the recent move that I have come up against one of my personal bugbears on a daily basis.
Bollards. Dublin is full of them. So many of the streets are lined with these obstacles (pictured above). Not only are our streets cluttered with bins, sandwich boards, bikes* and piles of rubbish, but also these unyielding, intractable hurdles. It’s hard enough to weave one’s way through a busy city street, with meanderthals aimless blundering in your path, gazing at their phones rather than watching where they are going; hydrophobes with eye-stabbing umbrellas; dogs on those stupid extendable leads designed to trip you up (I have no problem with people walking dogs without leashes); large packs of septuagenarian tourists or gaggles of Spanish students, both of whom seem to consist of people terrified of going anywhere by themselves; grown adults walking hand in hand, as if they are also petrified of being separated and swallowed up by the big bad city (or are possibly exchanging long protein strings); this list goes on.
This is not only a Dublin phenomenon of course. Many of the narrow Mediaeval streets of my home town of Galway are lined with these metal hazards too, meaning there is barely room for two people to pass one another. And what are these bollards for? To prevent cars parking on the path. So, instead of having a car temporarily blocking a footpath, the city councils in all their wisdom decided to install permanent blocks on the path instead. This is more evidence of the city being designed for cars rather than for people. What would happen if we took all of the other footpath clutter mentioned above, all the unsightly rubbish bags etc, and put it on the road, so that the traffic would have to negotiate its way around it, instead of those choosing to walk having to do so? After all, there’s far more space on the parts of the street allocated for driving than there is for walking.
So in the end, if I drove to work, I wouldn’t have this issue on my commute. However, my 2km journey would probably take twice as long. Driving in the city centre is pointless, and the sooner cities stop being designed for cars, the better.