AN INDEPENDENT road safety audit report has identified risks to pedestrians and wheelchair users as they access the recently constructed €1m footbridge at Macroom Bridge on the N22, and has made a number of recommendations to rectify several problems.
The road safety audit, commissioned by Macroom Town Council, and carried out by consulting engineers Malachy Walsh and Partners, is officially in draft form at the time of writing, as the town council await a final response from the National Road Authority.
The safety audit reviewed the overall layout involving the pedestrian route from the town square east of the footbridge to the Masseytown Road and New Street junction on the western side.
The report says pedestrians could be at risk of "impact with vehicles" while crossing the N22 east of the bridge, as the nearest pedestrian crossing is east of the town square, and "possibly too far from the likely desire-line". It is recommended that the appropriate crossing facilities should be provided.
Potential vehicular impact has also been identified regarding wheelchair and visually impaired users emerging from a newly constructed steep ramp in front of the Bank of Ireland on the square, thereby accessing the N22 or Bridewell Lane beside the bank without warning.
It is recommended that an open area at the entrance to the old Church of Ireland off Castle Street be reconfigured to provide a direct pedestrian route to the footbridge - the route currently follows an L shaped footpath off the direct line, and has steps, which could put wheelchair users at risk as they access the N22 to avoid them.
The New Street-Masseytown Road junction west of the bridge has been identified in the report as an area of serious risk to pedestrians. It mentions poor visibility for drivers of large heavy vehicles, as they turn left from the N22 into Masseytown Road, where a new zebra crossing has been constructed to provide access to and from the footbridge.
A problem with westbound vehicles turning right from the N22 into the Masseytown Road has been identified - "these drivers will also be approaching a zebra crossing approximately 11 metres after crossing the centre-line".
Risk to pedestrians has also been identified as vehicles leaving O Riada's night club car park will be turning immediately left on to the zebra crossing, and vehicles turning left from Barrack Lane on the other side will be doing likewise. Increased separation between the car park access and the pedestrian crossing is recommended in the report.
The 11-page-report states that a bridge parapet separating the new footbridge from the road traffic bridge is limiting the visibility of drivers accessing the N22 from Masseytown Road - "this results in increased risk of side on impact with vehicles travelling along the N22, and for pedestrians at the existing pelican crossing (at the bottom of New Street)."
The Gardaí were also consulted during the road safety audit, and the audit team were advised of a fatality that occurred a year ago when a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle turning right from Masseytown Road on to the existing pedestrian crossing.
The scheme was inspected by the audit team on February 6, and a submission from the councillors of Macroom Town Council was forwarded with the Road Safety Audit report to the NRA last week: 'We agree with the above recommendations, but we are stressing that the Masseytown Road Zebra Crossing, which is under the control of Macroom Town Council, will be detrimental to the Health and Safety of pedestrians and vehicle users due to its proximity to the N22, and as a local authority in control of this road, we will not allow the Masseytown Road Zebra Crossing and bridge to open until proper Health and Safety measures are put in place'.
The submission is signed by the Mayor Owen McCarthy on behalf of Macroom Town Councillors.