01 February, 2010

30kph and all that

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.


Brightspark Dublin said...

It doesn't make sense to bring an untested policy in to the country's capital. Why wasn't this tested in a smaller town first to see if the much lauded benefits actually kick in, in the Irish instance?

Also, why weren't hours imposed, like the bus lanes, the college green imposition and the other policies that have been put in to make it difficult for drivers in this city? As the President of the Taxi Driver's Federation said on radio yesterday, why force taxis to drive at 30km per hour at 4am when there is no other traffic?

Please don't refer to the UK or other European cities in your response that have adequate public transportation systems. If you can give me examples of where this system is working, is accepted as a positive, where people do actually have alternatives to driving, then I will be very happy to hear it.

Ciarán said...

Bright Spark,
I don't understand why you're linking public transport availability to a 30 kph limit. Cars will still be allowed drive through most of the city centre, but at a slightly slower speed. I believe you're making a false argument that suggests the new scheme should be judged on the availability of public transport. That's a false choice.

Why at 4 am? Well, noise reduction for starters, and also because it makes our streets safer.

Mark said...

Nice statement about false arguments there. But then again you're not averse to that yourself.
I see you are quoted elsewhere as stating that there have been 9 deaths and 36 injuries in the last 6 years. Is this true? If so why choose 6 years, It wouldn't be anything to do with the following would it?

6 years ago in Dublin, a bus killed 5 pedestrians at a bus stop on Wellington Quay when it went out of gear from a parking position.

That's leaves 4 deaths and 24 serious injuries right there to debate, not 9 and 36 respectively.

Do we have to google how many of those 4 killed were cyclists/pedestrians run over by buses and trucks turning at junctions whilst doing a top speed of less than 10kph??
In 2005, a bus killed a woman pedestrian on O'Connell st, a 30kmph zone already.

Looks like you aren't being entirely true yourself, applying misleading statistics to suit your argument.

I look forward to the next election where I will have the pleasure of seeing you and the rest of Gormleys cabal dumped into political oblivion. Unfortunately you will have featherbedded pensions to further line your pockets.

I'm not expecting you to allow this onto your blog but at least you'll know how I feel.

BTW I was a GP voter since the days of Roger Garland. SOmeone who made sure to vote in every election and I will never vote Green again.

Ciarán said...

Hi Mark, I only had six years data yesterday, and you're right, it included the Dublin Bus deaths.

Today I got more data from the National Transport Authority and it shows that 30 died in the last ten years in the 30kph area, 150 serious injuries, and over 2,000 minor injuries.

Ultimately I think it boils down to asking ourselves what kind of city do we want, and given the choice I'd opt more for Copenhagen than Heuston Texas.

Billy said...

I live in the sticks on a road that is well used by locals and people from afar as the only quiet lane to walk on. I run and cycle along it. No houses for 3km and deep ditches on both sides.

The only thing is that its limit is 80kph. Almost three times the limit of the city centre and at least five times narrower with nowhere for walkers or cyclists to go apart from jump in the ditch when someone at the legal speed hammers into them.

So when I get into town and have splutter down the quays to a waiting checkpoint I have to say I felt like I was being had. I was doing what I thought was 30 and going between second and third trying to keep it going and slow at the same time. And this with some idiot in a Korean Jeep six inches from my bumper trying to push me into the checkpoint and point city.

Funny that the emphasis is on speed when we have the LUNATIC practices of giving way to the left, undertaking and tailgating going unhindered. In Ireland you pass on the right and give way to the right but it seems this is ignored now and is the de facto standard. And don't even get me started on the eejits who crawl along the centre of the M50 well under the limit and not letting man nor beast pass and making the upgrade of the motorway completely wasted because nobody wants to use the left hand lane. Another billion wasted. Its easy to do. Drive as far left as possible and overtake on the right and come back in when you are finished. Easy peasy. Everyone gets there on time and nobody need speed because the motorway is working properly.

Speed isn't the only factor. Mobile phone use is rife and its very very difficult to take the Gardai seriously when you are sitting at the lights beside one of Templemores finest and he sitting on the phone.

Also the farcial situation of a brand new courthouse and at least 14 Garda vehicles up on the path outside the door and a checkpoint 500 metres away on the quays for law abiding motorists trying not to cut out and crawling along is farcical.

The lethal left turn at Westmoreland Street remains unmolested. This junction needs to be changed because people will still continue to be killed there regardless of speedlimits.

So to sum up. I am not against the principle. I am totally against the practice though. The blanket nature makes no sense. It seems ill thought through and frustrates rather than solves the problem.