The College View
By Cian Ginty
The vast majority of third level students in Dublin travel by public transport. Car users are a minority. But even with the downturn, large amounts of students are still driving and in the process many are annoying local residents by filling roads around DCU with parked cars.
Anecdotal stories about students driving short distances to DCU, even as close as across the Ballymun Road behind the Slipper, are confirmed by Census data. The stats show that 20 students over 19 years old in Ireland drive less than a kilometre to college. More strikingly 1,415 students in the same group travel by car up to 1km and 6,285 travel 2-4km. If you’ve ever walked up and down Grafton Street, that’s 1km.
Over 1,400 students in Ireland said they drive or get driven this distance daily. Corresponding to this, 100,000 people are driving less than 4km to work in Dublin alone. And people wonder why the roads are clogged up?
Many people live too far away or too far from good bus routes to make other means viable, so driving in those cases is fair enough. But these people alone cannot account for the high numbers using cars.
You’d think with all the hype about climate change that people would drive less. But a recent Eurobarometer survey on attitudes towards climate change showed that 56% respondents in Ireland viewed climate change as a “very serious problem”. While the vast majority of other EU countries view the problem more seriously.
So, if Irish people think climate change isn’t that serious, it’s easy to think we, collectively, are doing enough. With this kind of attitude, driving when there’s no need to is no harm at all.
A large percentage of Irish people say they have taken action to help fight climate change. But just a dismal 24% (EU average 28%, dismal itself) say they have taken an environmentally friendly form of transport. And only 15% say they have reduced their car usage (EU average 24%).
So, back to DCU. Why would the university provide extra parking spaces when it’s Government and Dublin City Council policy to promote greener transport? It would also be a massive waste of money spent on a minority of students when funding is short. Also, promoting car usage in the run up to Metro North construction is the last thing that’s needed. By promoting more sustainable transport modes traffic will suffer less, leaving roads free for those that actually need to use them.
Not providing extra parking at DCU will likely continue to annoy residents, but there’s an easy solution here. Residents can request the city council to mark the area as residential and paid parking only. If there are areas unsuitable for parking they should be marked as such.
There’s also a clear case for cars parked illegally or dangerously to be reported to the clampers or the Gardai. Otherwise everybody has the same right to park on streets, and residents will have to get used to this.