NOTEBOOK: Plan proposes most radical restriction of private traffic for decades

Cars to be banned from more areas to allow extra space for cyclists, pedestrians and public transport …

By Bill Heaney

The foregoing introduction to this Notebook is false, utterly untrue, but we can only wish that it wasn’t and that  Scotland’s government and our inept local authorities were in a position to make such an announcement.

They aren’t going to, of course. They are so busy squabbling, fighting and playing petty politics they haven’t the time to do much that’s worthwhile and certainly not anything visionary.

They are very good at producing one white elephant after another and that’s probably why the new council dropped the elephant and castle from its coat of arms. Lest someone thought it was funny, although a sense of humour is not something you might find easily in Church Street.

Meanwhile, the Irish government, which the SNP used to laugh at, is about to implement what would be the most radical restriction on private traffic in the city in decades.

For those of you familiar with Dublin, cars would be banned from sections of the north and south quays, close to O’Connell Bridge; Parliament Street would be made traffic free; and new civic plazas would be created at the Custom House and at Lincoln Place near the back entrance to Trinity College.

The public are furious in Glasgow and Dumbarton about the state of Sauchiehall Street and other parts of the city centre, which are a tip,  and we all know about West Dunbartonshire where, if the council had a worthwhile plan in its head, it would be lonely.

Sauchiehall Street is beginning to resemble dystopian Mitchell Way in Alexandria and in Dumbarton the planning committees, both Labour and SNP, have failed to come up with a vision that would work for High Street and the town centre, which is a concrete monstrosity and an utter disgrace.

And, as for the lunatic public toilets at both ends of Dumbarton Quay, need I go on?

This has been the situation for years here. Promises to produce a plan which would attract shoppers and pedestrians have been made time and again by the Council but they have no one with the courage, the experience or the acumen to grasp the nettle and ban cars from the High Street and the Town Centre altogether. To just do it.

The Dublin move follows a ban on cars from College Green since May, when the “bus gate” became a 24/7 measure, and the removal of cars from Capel Street last year. The latest plan would see far greater restrictions on private traffic, with the intention of eliminating two out of every three cars that are using the city as a through route rather than a destination.

The bus gate is to prevent all traffic other than public transport from all busy streets. Private cars, taxis the whole shooting match, the lot with no exceptions.

Two new “bus gates” would be introduced on the quays close to O’Connell Bridge, one on the northside at Bachelors’ Walk stopping cars and lorries from heading west towards the Custom House and the docklands.

The other would be on Aston Quay on the southside, stopping private traffic from travelling from O’Connell Bridge in the direction of Heuston Station. Both restrictions are due to be in place from next year.

Private traffic would also be stopped turning left from Westland Row onto Pearse Street from next year, with vehicles instead having to turn right and move away from the city. This would require a new two-way traffic section from Westland Row to Sandwith Street. This change should result in significantly less traffic on Pearse Street heading towards Tara Street, allowing a reduction in traffic lanes and the introduction of two-way cycle lanes.

Traffic free plaza

In 2025, a traffic free plaza is to be created at the Custom House, either in between the historic building and the river, fully pedestrianising the quayside at this point, or at the Beresford Place side, which would see a new plaza named Liberty Place, running from Liberty Hall towards Gardiner Street.

From next year traffic lanes would be reduced on Gardiner Street and new protected cycle lanes created, ahead of the development of either plaza, according to the plan.

The elimination of traffic on Parliament Street would also take place in 2025. Following on from the removal of cars from Capel Street last year, the council undertook a trial pedestrian and cycle-only zone on Parliament Street on weekend evenings during the summer. It now plans to make this a permanent intervention.

Necessary trips

The Lincoln Place plaza, stopping traffic from Nassau Street and Clare Street from heading towards Westland Row could also be developed in 2025 and 2026, subject to further assessment, the plan states.

Vehicle access to the city centre “will be maintained for necessary trips” the plan states but “car traffic without a destination in the Inner Core will be redirected as far as possible via alternative existing routes” and “on selected streets, general car traffic will be removed”.

In addition, a 30km/h speed limit would be introduced on all roads in the city centre  The plans will be available for public consultation until December 1st.


The burning question this week is who were the three mindless vandals who lit fires in the bins and sprayed graffiti on the walls of the £1.5 million Pavilion Cafe in Levengrove Park?

Those who have any inkling at all who carried out this appalling crime should contact the police. That is police with one L, the same as Pavilion has only one L. I don’t suppose this matters since everyone in Dumbarton knows how to spell polis.

It’s at times like this when the Pavilion word is splashed all over the newspapers that the local council make us all look stupid by insisting on using the wrong spelling even when it’s been pointed out to them that the cafe name has been mispelt.

It draws questions such as: Which school did they went to? 

Who is responsible for education anyway? Why the Council, of course. They should change it. After all, it would make one L of a difference.


So far as the town clock on Riverside Church having stopped for days on end is concerned, it is not the first time this has happened.

Many years ago when Sir John Cairns was the minister there, it was usually the day after the clocks were put forward (or back), that the clock failed to restart.

I once asked the local council [at a time when I was permitted to speak to them] whose job it was to look after the maintenance of the local time machine?

They admitted it was theirs and that a man called Ben Maguire was in charge of the job. 

That wouldn’t be Big Ben Maguire now, or would it, I asked, for which I should have been banned for thinking that was funny, not the minor indiscretion I have been banned for life for now.

Top picture: High Street Dumbarton with the traffic going nowhere fast, as has been the case since the hopeless one-way system was introduced.


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