Cars are banned from Limerick’s O’Connell Street for a day

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Mike Holden of Stop Food Waste with Ray Dillon, 6, in O’Connell Street, during Car Free Day Picture: Brian Arthur

Mike Holden of Stop Food Waste with Ray Dillon, 6, in O’Connell Street, during Car Free Day Picture: Brian Arthur

CARS were banned from O’Connell Street in Limerick over the weekend, as part of a unique initiative to promote sustainable travel.

Limerick’s main thoroughfare was closed off to cars, while vans vanished and lorries were lost, to be replaced with bicycles and buses.

It was all in aid of Car Free Day, part of a initiative to mark European Mobility Week.​

And despite rainy weather, there was a healthy turnout of people in attendance, taking part in games demonstrating the need for exercising, with the gardai also advising people how to kit their bike out correctly.

Sadbh Hanley of Limerick Smarter Travel said: “The theme of this year's mobility week is multi-modality. So we want to encourage walking and cycling and getting the bus, just more sustainable modes of transport.”

She said the reaction from people had been overwhelmingly positive, adding: “I think people like to see O'Connell Street with more activity. Taking the cars away does that. It gets more people onto the streets and engaging with the local businesses around us.”

For many lucky children, there was an opportunity to ride in a garda squad car.​

One of those was Joseph Keane, 9, who was in the patrol vehicle with younger sister Martha, 6.

“It was really cool. I’ve never been in a garda car, only a fire engine. My cousin John Casey is a garda,” he said, excitedly.

Asked if he fancied a career in the force, he said: “Yeah, it looks really fun!”

His mother Shirley admitted she had forgotten Car Free Day was on.

“We came into the city for other reasons, and suddenly the children started gravitating towards the tents and things. They love it. It's simple, but appealing. I like the idea of there being a more pedestrian focussed centre. That's what this is about,” she said.

Fresh plans for the renewal of O’Connell Street were also put on display by council staff, including Maria Donoghue.

These will see traffic reduced in the area, with pedestrian priority in paces along large sections of the street.