RESIDENTS of a road near The Beehive pub where numerous accidents have taken place over recent years they have been told by Wicklow County Council that no exception can be made for individual roads.
A 40-page submission has been sent to the council by residents of the L1113 which leads from the Beehive pub up past Kilmacurragh to persuade the council to reduce the speed limit and/or introduce traffic calming measures on their road arising from concerns a child could be hit by a car.
"Such proposals were met with opposition by Wicklow County Council and the few measures introduced by them have by and large worsened the safety on this road,” said resident Amanda O’Sullivan.
“One of the factors in refusing a reduction in the speed limit was the use of a calculation based on the number of accidents on a road as a proportion of the volume of traffic and the prevailing average speed. It is our contention that the figures used at the time of the last measurement were out of date and there has been an increase in accidents on this road since the completion of the M11.”
While the council's data used noted only three collisions in the 11 years to 2016, residents are aware of nine collisions on the road since August 2018, at least two of which resulted in someone being hospitalised, and two of which badly damaged the bridge over Potters River necessitating repair by the Wicklow County Council.
Using the calculation outlined in the Guidelines for Speed Limits, residents say their road has more accidents per volume of traffic than the stretch at Kilmacanoge, where – despite the lengthy and costly construction of a separate lane to stream traffic from the garage and small industrial estate up over the bridge to re-join the national road – a 60 km/h limit still applies.
"Our road has no separation of traffic, no second lane to avoid joining traffic, the majority of homes are situated on the left of the road and the majority of journeys are towards Wicklow/M11, necessitating crossing both traffic directions at right angles from a standstill, yet Wicklow County Council will not consider a 60 km/h limit for our safety
“Just this Sunday there was yet another crash on our road and critically just at the point on the road where the largest cluster of nine houses accesses the road. There are 13 children between those nine houses and it is a real worry to think that any of those could have been on the roadway at this time.
"Indeed this particular point is just where the road narrows after the very wide portion of the road leading to exit 18 and where vehicles regularly pass at high speed while still in ‘motorway mode’.”
Ms O’Sullivan said residents are also calling for a 60 km/h limit on all rural local roads which directly lead to and from national roads and motorways.
"This would give motorists the opportunity to moderate their driving mode and become aware of the potential to meet pedestrians, cyclists, farm machinery, pets and wildlife, which they will not have encountered on the motorways and national roads. Such lower limit would lessen the instances of drivers continuing at motorway speeds on roads totally unsuited to such speed.
"It may not stop the drivers who already break the limit by up to 50 km/h as measured by Wicklow County Council on our road, but given the the majority of drivers observe the speed limit, such lower limit would act as a general slowing of traffic speed such as to ensure drivers switch to a driving mode more suitable to rural road conditions. We have heard the counter argument that a lower limit could cause frustration and increase the danger of unsuitable overtaking by drivers, but drivers already break the limit and overtake dangerously and the limit should not be set to facilitate those who break the law over the safety of those who do not.
"Indeed it would appear that much of the decision making on speed limits is in favour of those who for the sake of a shaving a few minutes off their own journey time are willing to put at risk the lives of residents and other road users.
“It is a puzzle that a limit of 30 km/h is imposed in urban area where there are footpaths, street lighting and often ramps, but a rural road with no such facilities is not even granted a limit of twice this speed! Are rural lives less important?
"Given the impossibility of providing footpaths and lighting on the majority of rural local roads, should not the speed limit at least act to protect vulnerable road users rather than to facilitate passing drivers?”
She said with the increase in road fatalities on Irish roads this year to date and the 1,000 plus drivers recorded breaking the limit even on National Drive Slowly Day, there is a clear case for urgent action.
"We are a little bit unique on our road as we’ve become an effective bypass. There is a regional road that goes down to the N11 from Aughrim and Rathdrum which goes through Gleneely. instead of putting an exit off that road they decided to keep the regional road going through Rathnew so people just hop across our road onto the N11 as we have direct access.”
The speed limit included in the current bye-laws (adopted on the 2nd October, 2017) applies on the L1113 road (which leads from the Beehive pub up past Kilmacurragh).
The speed limit bye-laws are countywide and are not individual for each road therefore it was not possible to look at this section of the road in isolation.
A countywide speed limit review is now underway and a change to the speed limit through L1113 will be considered as part of this.
The process will involve consultation with An Garda Siochana, TII and a public consultation, following which, the adoption of the bye-laws is a reserved function of the elected members.
A Wicklow County Council spokesperson said: “The speed limit included in the current bye-laws (adopted on the 2nd October, 2017) applies on the L1113 road (which leads from the Beehive pub up past Kilmacurragh). The speed limit bye-laws are countywide and are not individual for each road therefore it was not possible to look at this section of the road in isolation.
“A countywide speed limit review is now underway and a change to the speed limit through L1113 will be considered as part of this.
The process will involve consultation with An Garda Siochána, TII and a public consultation, following which, the adoption of the bye-laws is a reserved function of the elected members.”