Quite a polarised issue, speed limits.
George's Street in Dún Laoghaire was pedestrianised a few years ago. After a year a majority of the councillors (bar the Greens who were on the Council at the time) decided to allow cars back in. A month ago the Council brought in new speed limits across the County. On some roads the speed limits went up, but on others it came down, particularly in town centres such as on Georges Street. Mind you, the new 30kph speed limit didn't generate as much heat as Dublin City's new lower speed limit that came into place today.
I was surprised and disappointed that both the AA and the Dublin City Business Association are critical of the new lower speed limits. Both bodies state that they're concerned about the environment. I'd have thought that any measure to reduce noise pollution and accidents would be welcome. Plus, if a pedestrian is hit at 30 kph 95% of the time they survive. At 50 kph they have a 45% chance of losing their life.Speed kills.
Some are saying that this will add to journey times in a car, but if you do the math the most it can add is ninety seconds, and that's keeping to the limit all the way through town.
I had a look at the map on the Dublin City Council website, and cross-referenced this to CSO data. It seems to me that over 15,000 people live in the area that will be affected, and that includes at least 1,500 children. There's also at least six schools, and several third level institutions within the cordon. Anything that makes them safer makes sense to me.
Others are saying that there's not too many accidents happening in the city centre. Well, in figures that I've seen, nine people lost their lives within the 30 kph area in traffic accidents since 2003, over thirty-six were seriously injured, and over four hundred suffered minor injuries.
I'd imagine that both tourists and residents alike will feel the better for being able to have a conversation on a footpath in the middle of town again, rather than shouting over the noise of traffic. It would be nice to think that the Quays will be less like a race-track. I'm sure that users of the DublinBikes scheme will feel safer. All in all I believe it's a good decision that will make the city a more, well, civilised place.
Now let's take a leaf from the Dutch book and put in 15kph speed limits on residential streets. Then, maybe our children can feel safe playing outside, rather then spending to much time on their Nintendos, instead of exploring their neighbourhood.