The presentation of Wexford’s Traffic Calming Policy at the November meeting of Gorey-Kilmuckridge Municipal District Council wasn’t all smooth sailing as members queried the seemingly restrictive rules around the introduction of new speed bumps.
Road Safety Officer with Wexford County Council, David Codd presented the draft policy at the meeting in Well’s House last week, outlining its objectives and aims. Improving road safety; reducing and controlling vehicular speed; improving driver awareness of vulnerable road users; enhancing the environment and reducing noise disturbances and anxiety in the areas being assessed were the key objectives highlighted by Mr Codd.
Cllr Andrew Bolger said that he is constantly receiving queries from members of the public about ramps, and queries why the draft policy was so restrictive about them.
"It seems that the argument is we cannot get ramps because of emergency services and that may be valid. I would ask the road section to push hard to different speed calming measures. Page seven seems to outlaw them,” he said. “I think otherwise it is quite good.”
Cllr Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin also said that ramps are one of the main things that people come to him about, particularly those with concerns about the safety of their children
"The policy would appear to be against traffic calming on bus routes, on regional roads, in places where emergency services are against it, and in housing estates,” he said.
Cllr Ó Súilleabháin said that the Ardamine Road is “basically a race track” which culminates at a school setting. A traffic survey done on the road in June showed that 85 per cent of motorists are still breaking the speed limit despite measures introduced there previously, said the councillor, who queried what alternatives can be used.
“It’s practically impossible to get a ramp in anywhere,” he said. “Wicklow has ramps. Why is it so dangerous in Wexford for people to have ramps?”
“I’m not fond of ramps and if other road traffic calming solutions can be introduced, I would find them far better. What about raised pedestrian crossings?” said Cllr Anthony Donohoe. Cllr Donohoe said that most of the speeding in housing estates is carried out by those who live within them, and queried whether a fixed CCTV system could help to combat that.
“What we would say is ramps are a last resort. There are a lot of alternative options,” clarified Mr Codd. “We will allow ramps in housing estates and cul de sacs. There are certain criteria that they must comply with.”
Mr Codd said that, as the Ardamine Road is a main artery road and bus route, the Council does not feel it is an appropriate location for ramps. There is a plan to look at signage for that road, he confirmed.
In response to Cllr Donohoe, he said that a 30 km speed limit at housing estates is permitted and that raised pedestrian crossings are possible.
Cllr Mary Farrell called for the need for more road safety measures at schools.
"In the document, it says vulnerable road uses are a priority. Surely children are vulnerable road users. Most schools in rural areas are on roads where they’re walking out of the school and there’s no safe place to cross. How are we supposed to keep these children safe?” she said. “I’m not a fan of ramps either but where are these resources going to come for all of these other solutions?”
"I want to know what are we going to do. They are vulnerable road users. They are a priority.”
Cllr Farrell said that signage does not work as people ignore signs.
Chairperson Cllr Donal Kenny echoed Cllr Farrell’s concern for school safety, pointing out that the 80 k.m. speed limit at Ballyellis school is far too high and needs to be lowered “sooner rather than later”.
Cllr Diarmuid Devereux said he found it “very strange” that Cllr Bolger was “pulling lumps” out of the document considering he sits on the SPC that passed it.
"This is not to ban ramps. It was to bring in a risk assessment so that if a councillor or anybody applies for traffic calming measures to be put in place, there is a risk assessment model that will be applied,” he added.
In response, Cllr Bolger said he was “disappointed” that this comment was made, adding that he supported much of the document and was only simply trying to represent the public.
Cllr Joe Sullivan said that, while he is not a fan of ramps, road users need to be protected. He called for additional measures such as signage, alongside personal responsibility, saying that many of the people who speed outside schools are parents themselves.
"Parents are going to want to take out the mirror someday and have a look at their own behaviour around the school. 95 per cent of traffic at school times around the school is parents of the children,” he said. “It is all fine to throw it at the Council and the Gardai but collective responsibility is a big part of that as well.”
Cllr Willie Kavanagh highlighted the need for speed limits to be adjusted on side roads, while he also said that flashing speed signs can be very effective in encouraging motorists to reduce their speed.
"Speeding is a legal issue,” said Cllr Pip Breen, echoing points made by fellow members about high levels of speeding around schools.
"We do not need to make laws for people who break the laws. I think the document is fair,” he continued. “I think I would be bringing in the police before I bring in Wexford County Council to put ramps in. Parents are the biggest offenders and should be protecting their children and taking the lead on this.”
Cllr Breen said that he thinks the document is effective and, if followed, it will help to create a safer county.
The NTA launched the Safer Route to School scheme 18 months ago and there is a dedicated Active Travel Team in the Roads Department, explained Mr Codd. Schools were asked to apply to the Safer Route to School scheme, and only 27 did. A design is currently underway for four of these which will help to improve safety at the school once implemented.
Mr Codd explained that the design of each school’s plan under the Safer Route to School Scheme is done in-house, with the schools chosen by the NTA. A design for four of these schools will be done each year which, as Cllr Donohoe remarked, means it will take “27 and a half years” to carry out the process for all of the schools in the county. Cllr Farrell queried whether it was up to the councillors to secure the resources to put in the traffic calming measures identified and Mr Codd confirmed that there are no dedicated resources for them.
Cllr Oliver Walsh said, while not everyone agrees on the document, he welcomed the fact it offered a consistent approach around the county. He proposed the document, which was seconded by Cllr Pip Breen.
Cllr Devereux said that a full traffic management review is due to be carried out for the Gorey area as soon as possible, pointing out that progress is being made on the issue of road safety.
“It’s going to involve education through the schools, engineering through ourselves and enforcement through An Garda Siochana,” said Mr Codd.