Clare County Councillors have backed the reduction of vehicle speeds from 50 to 30 kilometres per hour in new and existing housing estates throughout Clare.
This proposal was made by Councillor Johnny Flynn at a recent council meeting where he received cross party support for the introduction of new safety measures in urban estates.
He was supported by Councillor Paul Murphy, who tabled a similar motion requesting the council to consider simple effective measures at reducing vehicle speeds in housing estates by considering them at initial design and planning application stages, which might help prevent accidents and tragedies.”
Councillor Flynn’s proposal was made after Transport Minister Paschal Donohue requested local authorities to submit proposals for the reduction of speed limits in existing housing estates from 50 kilometres per hour to 30 kilometres per hour.
Minister Donohue also sought the use other measures such as speed ramps in housing estates aimed at improving safety for the most vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and especially children.
On November 25 last, Environment Minister Alan Kelly instructed local authorities to place greater emphasis on road safety and street design considerations in the assessment of applications for planning permission for new housing developments.
Councillor Flynn requested the council to provide funding for installation of speed ramps and road signage to encourage more responsible driving in and around housing estates in Ennis and other towns and villages throughout the county.
The Clare County Council Draft Road Safety Strategy( RSS) 2014-2020 has identified that one of the primary cause of road collisions was speeding. In 2013, out of 22,510 penalty points issued by Gardai in Clare, 17,553 were issued for speeding, 2,555 were issued to drivers for use of mobile phones and 205 for failing to obey traffic lights.
It identified seven people lost their lives on Clare roads in the five-year period up to 2012.
Councillor Flynn noted Minister Donohue’s decision to seek a reduction of speed limits in estates came after after he met with members of the Jake’s Legacy Campaign, a campaign being run by the family of Jake Brennan, who died tragically earlier this summer outside his home.
“It is high time this review was carried out and its deeply regrettable that it was prompted by the death of one little boy who tragically lost his life just metres from his own home.
“I have in the recent past made requests to the council’s roads section to consider reducing speed limits in estates, adjacent to schools, health centres in a number of submissions to the Council. I have also responded to a recent request from the Clare road safety officer in connection with this review of speed limits in estates, ” he said.
“A 50 kmph speed limit in highly populated areas is dangerous. Clare needs speed ramps, lower limits and traffic calming measures to ensure the safety of children, cyclists and pedestrians in these areas. It is recommended that housing estates should have a 30 km/h speed limit, but a Department of Transport survey has found that this is the case in less than 2% of housing estates outside of Dublin. Vulnerable road users such as cyclists , the young and the elderly are put at risk by vehicles being driven at speed. ”
“Not everyone is cognisant of the fact that small children may be on the footpath or even on the road playing with their friends â€“ and this is where tragedy can strike,” he added.
He asked drivers, particularly young drivers to reduce their speed in and around estates especially during the winter months.
Director of services, Ger Dollard confirmed the council would be complying with a national circular concerning the control of vehicle speeds in “new” residential developments.
The Council is acutely aware of the importance of using a range of measures to enhance road safety in housing schemes particularly for vulnerable road users and in urban areas generally.
A new Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets (DMURS) was jointly published by the Department of Transport and Environment last year.
This provides new national guidance on street design to enhance the safety and attractiveness of urban roads and streets. In fact, Mr Dollard outlined this manual is now the mandatory reference document for the local authority and it requires a collaborative, holistic approach to achieving its objectives.
He said the principles of DMURS would be referenced in all new development plans and local area plans in the future. It will also be the reference document in the assessment of road design in new residential developments for the roads and planning departments of the council.