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‘Let’s go back to college and learn the science’ – Pat Kenny tackles Green Party councillor on cars stalling due to 30kmh Phoenix Park speed limit

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Pat Kenny had an on-air debate with a Green Party councillor about driving practices

Pat Kenny had an on-air debate with a Green Party councillor about driving practices

Pat Kenny had an on-air debate with a Green Party councillor about driving practices

RADIO presenter Pat Kenny asked a Green Party councillor if he “knows about gears” as the two argued on-air about the best way to save fuel in a car.

In a discussion about whether the speed limit of 30kmh in the Phoenix Park should be changed as motorists have complained that it is too slow, the Newstalk presenter asked Cllr Michael Pidgeon if the speed limit should be raised for environmental reasons.

"You are a Green Party councillor so you are concerned that if you do have to drive a car – and I don’t know whether you do drive a car – you should drive it efficiently and in a way that conserves energy and pollutes less,” Mr Kenny said.

"And the way to do that is to drive at an appropriate engine speed.

"If you are driving at 30kmh you are in a lower gear, if you are in a higher gear you will suffer cut-outs, but if you are driving at a lower gear you are driving very inefficiently in terms of your engine.

"So, how do you square that circle? That’s pure science, that’s not me spoofing.”

Cllr Pidgeon disagreed, saying: “Generally, the faster you are going the more fuel you use.”

Mr Kenny replied: “Gearing – do you know about gears? In order to drive 20 miles per hour, 30 miles per hour, you can’t do it in top gear which is the most efficient gear to use for fuel economy. You are probably in second, maybe third gear if you are lucky.”

The Green Party councillor then said “that’s not true” as fuel efficiency “isn’t solely based on the gear; it is also based on the speed you are travelling at”.

The broadcaster hit back at the councillor again, saying: “Lets go back to college together then and learn what’s the appropriate science behind all of this.”

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According to the AA, reducing your speed can save fuel, as driving at 120kmh uses about 20pc more fuel than driving at 100km/h.

It also states that driving fast in a low gear makes the engine work harder and uses more fuel. So, motorists should be using the correct gear for the speed they are travelling at.

"Don’t take too long to move into the higher gears,” the AA says.

"Driving fast in a low gear makes the engine work harder and uses more fuel (you can tell by keeping an eye on the tachometer beside the speedometer, as it shows the engine’s rpm).

"Most modern cars have a dashboard indicator to tell you the most efficient time to change gear – use it.”

Earlier this week it emerged how Government chief whip Jack Chambers and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar forwarded angry letters from constituents who claimed a new 30km-per-hour speed limit in the Phoenix Park was damaging their car or forcing it to cut out.

The correspondence was among a flurry of letters forwarded by local TDs to the Office of Public Works (OPW) about the availability of parking for Dublin Zoo and the park.

Controversy raged after traffic chaos around the zoo during the Easter holidays, with some on social media blaming the introduction of safe dedicated cycle lanes on Chesterfield Avenue for the lack of parking.

In a letter forwarded by Minister of State Jack Chambers, one motorist said their car cut out twice in the park, even though 30kmh limits are common in built-up areas around Dublin.

“I can’t keep at that speed as my engine won’t allow me,” said their letter. “This is creating very long tailbacks and if my car cuts out (which it did today two times) the person behind me will crash into me.

“50kmh needs to come back as my car literally can’t drive at 30kmh without stalling.”

In correspondence to the OPW, Minister Chambers’ office said they had received “numerous complaints” from constituents.

In a message forwarded by Mr Varadkar, one elderly constituent explained how the new slower limit was putting a “lot of pressure on my engine” and that “cars were not built for that speed”.

They wrote: “There is no pleasure anymore driving through the park; it is like an obstacle course and in slow motion. I feel that the motorist is being attacked left, right and centre with all these changes.”


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