OVER 70 percent of the Clare public wish to see the streets of Ennis pedestrianised while local businesses remain unconvinced on the change.
Results from a pedestrianisation survey conducted online and in paper format by Clare County Council from October 15th to 29th were released on Tuesday. 1,796 completed surveys were received, 1,600 individuals completed the survey online with 196 respondents completing the survey in paper format.
Data from the consultation platform revealed 6,841 individuals visited at least one page on the consultation site with 2,919 visiting numerous pages and 1,600 completing the survey.
Of the survey participants, 1093 (60.9%) were classed as a resident of the town, 517 (28.8%) were visitors including persons living in surrounding areas, 127 (7.1%) were employees in Ennis, 54 (3%) identified as a business owner in the town centre while 5 (0.3%) were suppliers to town centre businesses.
Persons aged between 26-45 (42.7%) were the biggest contributors to the survey followed by the 46-55 category, 55-56 and then the over 65s. None of the respondents were under eighteen.
Overall, 71.2% of all respondents would like to see some form of pedestrianisation ‘immediately’, 20.3% in the ‘medium/long term dependent on provision of new infrastructure/service’ and 8.5% indicated ‘no-never’. Of those who indicated they would like to see some form of pedestrianisation (1,643 of 1,796), 44% would prefer ‘pedestrianisation 11-6, 7 days a week’, with a further 36.5% favouring ‘full-time pedestrianisation’. Findings are similar to a survey by The Clare Echo last April which found that 69% of our readers wished to see some form of pedestrianisation introduced in the county town.
From the 54 business owners who completed the survey, 37% said they never wished to see pedestrianisation, 38.9% favoured its immediate introduction with 24.1% hopeful for its introduction in the medium to long-term. 87% of the business owners that engaged with the survey said they drove to Ennis.
Participants that backed to pedestrianisation wished to see introduced in O’Connell St (1587), Parnell St (1329), Abbey St (1280) with less demand for High Street (856) and Bank Place (674).
While 77.5% of respondents stated that their primary mode of travel into Ennis was by car, an overwhelming 1520 (84.9%) outlined that their primary mode of travel around the town centre was walking.
102 respondents (5.7%) declared to have mobility issues. From this cohort, 47.1% favoured introduction of pedestrianisation immediately, 21.6% in the medium to long term, 31.4% selected No/Never.
More parking within the town, for disabled persons, for free and on the outskirts were suggested as ways to aid pedestrianisation. Provision of a shuttle service, appropriate signage to parking facilities, the widening and levelling of footpaths, more seating and more policing on streets were also suggested.
Potential pedestrianisation is part of a suite of measures to enhance accessibility and improve the town centre experience. Measures that have already been implemented to create a pedestrian-friendly town centre include the installation of pedestrian crossings, drop kerbs, footpath repairs and enhancement, public lighting, redesigning of disabled car parking spaces as well as the Ennis public realm enhancement works at Parnell Street and the laneways and bow-ways.
Information from the survey will feed into future transport planning for the town including the formulation of the ‘Ennis Mobility Plan’ which will examine all forms of modal transport for the town centre and its environs.
“This survey, which was widely advertised and could be completed online or in paper format, allowed all members of the community to have their say on potential pedestrianisation in Ennis town centre,” said Mayor of the Ennis Municipal District, Cllr Ann Norton (IND).
Senior executive officer with the Ennis MD, Leonore O’Neill stated, “We are delighted with the high level of engagement with the survey and wish to thank all individuals, representative groups and Ennis MD councillors who helped to create awareness of the survey. This feedback from the public will be a vital element in the design of future transport plans for the town”.