Speed limit plan a bit of a fudge
The Transport Minister's proposals assumes all drivers are inherently intelligent, writes Campbell Spray
The proposals for dealing with speed limits on rural roads and housing estates announced by Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe last week were a very mixed bag; well-intentioned in many ways but, as in so many areas, a bit of a fudge.
Under the new plans, the controversial and positively dangerous 80km speed limit on many rural roads will be replaced by a new black circle with diagonal lines. This means that while 80km is still the limit, drivers on country lanes must use their own judgment in terms of their speed and slow down accordingly.
Unfortunately, as Seamus Boland, chief executive of Irish Rural Link, was writing on Friday in the Irish Independent, this "whatever you are having yourself" policy only makes sense if "a number of factors are in play... (including)... all rural drivers are inherently intelligent, know the roads they are on, are driving with 100pc concentration and have not imbibed substances which alter the mind."
Seamus is right in saying that the "romantic picture of meandering narrow roads is tempered by the fact that few, if any, are suitable for walking or cycling on". The slaughter on our roads, especially at night, of pedestrians and cyclists testifies in the starkest way to this.
With regard to the housing estates, the guidelines indicate that 'slow zones' will be introduced, reducing speed limits from 50km/h down to 30km/h and that local authorities will have the option to further reduce them to 20km/h should they so wish.
I am with Tommy Broughan, the TD for Dublin Bay North, who recently spoke in favour of Jake's Law in Dail Eireann and the proposed introduction of a 20km/h in 'Home Zones' and supported Roseanne Brennan's campaign for this reduction.
Cycling Ireland and cycling advocates have also been campaigning for reduced speed limits in built-up areas as research has shown that reduced travelling speeds can greatly increase the likelihood of children and vulnerable road users surviving impact in the event of a collision.
Deputy Broughan said: "I have long proposed low speed limit Home Zones in residential estates, so while I welcome Minister Donohoe's announcements today, I still worry about the lack of co-ordination of our road safety laws.
"The minister paid lip service to the brave Roseanne Brennan and supporters of Jake's Law during their three-night vigil in February. Has he discussed the option of lowering the speed limit to 20km/h with local authorities, and have those councils discussed this with residents of housing estates?"
The problems of traffic interacting with children, pedestrians and cyclists has to be sorted out whether it is on country roads or housing estates. There can't be fudges, cars are killing machines.