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Saturday 3 December 2016

Controversy erupts over plans for blanket 30km city speed limit

Dublin City - Location of the new 30km/h zones
Dublin City - Location of the new 30km/h zones

A row has erupted over proposals to introduce 30km/h speed limits throughout Dublin and its suburbs.

The plan, drawn up by Dublin City Council, involves reducing speed limits on roads in areas including Crumlin, Rathmines, Finglas and Clontarf on a phased basis starting this year.

It would massively expand the 30km/h limit already in force on roads in shopping and central business areas of the city.

In a separate development, the Garda National Traffic

Bureau announced it is increasing the number of speed detection zones nationwide by 355 to 1,031 stretches of road to be patrolled by GoSafe vans and gardai, beginning on National Slow Down Day next Friday.

Controversy over the city council’s plan for a blanket speed reduction on most city roads to 30km/h erupted yesterday.

AA Ireland said the council’s plan of simply colouring large parts of a Dublin map to de-

marcate them as 30km/h zones was not wise and would not work.

Undermines

However, the Road Safety

Authority of Ireland (RSA) welcomed the plan, saying the capital was currently behind European neighbours.  

Conor Faughnan (below) from AA Ireland said the organisation supported 30km/h speed limits where they were appropriate, but drawing lines on a map would not work.

“You don’t make roads safer by writing a lower number on a pole,” he said.

“Imposing a 30km/h limit on wide areas is unwise and tends not to work.

“These limits have to be introduced in sympathy with the engineering of the road,” he said. “Putting up polls with ‘30km’ on them will not make roads safer.

“If you put up a number that compels drivers to drive in a way that would fail the driving test, it undermines confidence in speed limits generally.”

Mr Faughnan said AA Ireland lobbied long and hard to get rid of 80km/h signs on narrow country roads for the same reason.

“If the number on the sign is obviously ridiculous, you’re embarking on a widespread advertising campaign that speed limits are ridiculous and don’t need to be followed,” he said.

Mr Faughnan said the speed limit was not something that road safety experts were suggesting.

 “This is something that is coming from the councillors,” he said.

He stressed that there were “plenty of areas” where 30km/h made sense and should be brought in, but the method proposed by the council would not work.

The scheme had to be introduced in a way that was “logical, rational and consistent”, he said.

However, the RSA is backing the council’s plan.

“We very much welcome this proposal,” said a spokesman.

“In fact, Ireland is lagging behind the rest of Europe when it comes to the issue.

“If you look at Edinburgh, they have 20mph across the city.

“Thirty-eight per cent of Swiss people live in 30kmph zones

“Spain has also been rolling out 30km/h zones in most cities across the country.”

The RSA said the main purpose behind the speed limit reduction was to protect pedestrians and cyclists.

“Remember, if you hit someone at 50km/h, it’s a toss of a coin if they will live. If you hit them at 30kmh, nine out of 10 will survive,” said the spokesman.

The authority also rejected criticism from AA Ireland, and said its view was not in line with the common view. The spokesman said that body represented the interests of motorists.

However, he added that the scheme must be implemented in consultation with local communities.

“It’s also important that the thinking behind the scheme is explained well to the public,” he said.

Obey

Meanwhile, nationally, 355 new speed enforcement zones will be monitored by GoSafe vans and gardai.

Detection will begin in the new garda speed enforcement zones, which will operate indefinitely, from 7am next Friday.

The National Slow Down Day initiative will run for 24 hours, and a large amount of garda resources will be deployed.

Motorists will be urged to take extra care to obey speed limits.

Fifty GoSafe speed detection vans and eight customised garda speed detection vehicles will patrol the zones,which will cover all manner of roads.

Garda chiefs urged motorists yesterday to log on to the force’s website and learn where the zones are located.

More than 90 lives have been saved since the introduction of safety cameras in 2011, according to garda road safety experts.

The speed enforcement zones make up only 3pc of the nation’s roads but had previously accounted for 31pc of all traffic fatalities.

The death rate in the zones has fallen to 14pc of the national total.

Identifying these zones saved lives, said Garda Chief Supt Aidan Reid.

“Saving lives and preventing injuries is our number one goal,” he said.

“We urge every driver to become familiar with the full list of speed enforcement zones, freely available on the garda website, so that they know to take extra care when travelling on these 1,000-plus stretches of high-risk roads.”

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