Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Dublin city 30 km/h speed limit.

Once again, our rulers in Dublin City Council’s bunker have enforced a law, with no cognisance of reality, on the passive citizens of the metropolis. Giddy from their recent decree to ban the use of the English language for future place and road names, they have now enforced a blanket 30 Km/h (18 mph), 24-hour, speed limit on much of the city. 

They say the speed limit is all about “saving lives”, that same supposedly argument-killing mantra used by quota-chasing, laser-wielding coppers on the dual carriageway stretches with inappropriately low speed limits . The fact is, no figures have been complied by Dublin City Council featuring a detailed breakdown of road fatalities in the capital: the number, the type, the locations, and – most importantly – the causes.

All we get from Dublin City Council is that you are more likely to be killed by a car moving at 50 km/h than at 30 km/h. Sure, you can equally say that if you impose a nationwide speed limit of 30 km/h, even on the motorways, the subsequent collisions due to motorists falling asleep at their wheels would also feature fewer fatalities. But every single journey would be an odyssey and each car making it would be on the roads for longer, meaning our highways and byways would be constantly chock-full of crawling traffic, taking forever to go anywhere.

I work in town and see potentially fatal road situations every day. The most common would be:  Ignorant motorists breaking red traffic lights when lines of pedestrians are stepping out to cross the road, enticed by the green man.  People walking out, lemming-like, in front of oncoming traffic in places where it is madness to do so. Trucks with blind-spots turning left, oblivious to adjacent cyclists. Other cyclists who consider breaking lights and carving through the crossing pedestrians, and racing along crowded pedestrian streets, a right conferred on them for "saving the planet".   I was out walking at lunch yesterday, and witnessed three of the above scenarios in half-an-hour… I kid you not.

Let Dublin City Council take the trouble to identify the specific causes of road deaths in our city. Perhaps the odd councilor might emerge from the Bunker now and again to witness the all-too-regular wreath on a pedestrian crossing?   Then let them do what needs to be done, but not this half-arsed, lazy, tokenistic nonsense they do so well.

Whenever I work on a Sunday, I take the car, as there are no trains when I finish up. Driving home in the evening along Aston Quay and Wellington Quay - past Temple Bar - there is no way I would contemplate exceeding 30 km/h, as there are too many unpredictable (and drunk) pedestrians spilling from the footpaths. I never have - regardless of speed limit.   But I know the next time I'm up the other end of the quays, with not a soul in sight, I'll be watching my speedo more than the road in case some sneaky copper is hiding up ahead waiting for a chance to hit their monthly target.

It is only the application of roadcraft and common sense to take it easy around the busy streets where there is a high degree of pedestrian activity.  But Merchants or Inn’s Quay in the early morning, or late at night? That’s another matter.

And that's where you will find our friends hiding with the laser guns, out “saving lives”.

And if you believe that...

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Ella said...

Hi GM, 30km on Merchants Quay or Inn's Quay is mad stuff. Makes no sense at all. The whole thing is just another money making venture for the state. Gardai were out at 07h00 on Monday on both sides of the keys, with their GATSO vans doing people for speeding. Predictable stuff really, no self respect. I work out in the sticks and many of the "roads", lanes out this way have 80kmph speed limits, which would be far mroe suited to 30kmph. They never get it right. Motorists, not equipped with cruise control on the Quays will be so busy looking at their speedo, that they are likely to cause an accident.

The Gombeen Man said...

Yes Ella - the first step in eliminating road deaths is to establish where and how they occur. Without doing this, the issue will not be addressed, whatever lazy, motorist-baiting tokenism DCC engage in. An article in today's Irish Times makes the points you made above.

REARVIEW (by Irish Times Motoring Editor, Michael McAleer)

SLOWER TRAFFIC means fewer road deaths. That’s the core argument from Dublin City Council for the introduction of a 30km/h speed limit. Yet they have singularly failed to demonstrate that city centre crashes contribute significantly to road fatalities compared to suburban and rural roads where limits are wrongly applied. Is this really the most pressing issue for councillors?

The new limit is very useful in one respect: it highlights the fact that control of speed limits rests with local councillors and the blame for the ludicrous and sometimes dangerous limits on non-national roads lies with them.

Yet again it seems that the burden of responsibility for road safety will lie with the motorist. Jaywalking in the city centre seems to go unpunished and drivers regularly have to zig-zag through pedestrians who wander out on the roads. Similarly, motorists must be alert to cyclists who take little or no heed of traffic lights or one-way systems. On Morning Ireland this week, a council official pointed out that in areas like Temple Bar, the new limit may mean fewer injuries to pedestrians who often have a little too much to drink and who may stray onto the road. Do they not bear any responsibility for their own wellbeing?

Is this really the most important change to our speed limits at a time when limits on many of the nation’s roads are wildly out of line with the reality of their surroundings? Some roads – little more than boreens – have limits of 80km/h, or even 100km/h in some places. For those not familiar with the roads, many consider target speeds to be accurate indicators of the road ahead.

With so few incidents of road deaths in the city centre, it’s going to be easy for councillors to claim the new limit a success. It’s worth remembering that these are the same elected officials responsible for the other limits as well.

Anna said...

In Aug 09 I drove to work on Parnell Sq, something I Never do, so I didn’t realise when I turned down a nearby street, (Frederick St?) that I was going down a bus only St. ( later discovered there was a badly placed sign- lettering on it V SMALL- I am not a careless drivers & am conscious of watching out for well labelled signs- placed in visible locations, and in time for a driver to take action). To my amazement a young Garda pulled me- I have never in 1.5 yrs of work in the North inner city seen one. Fined €80. When I said I’d never seen a Garda there he earnestly informed me that he often lurks in dark corners there, as the state can really make money on these traps, out of law abiding motorists and creating these crimes (and then solving them) really bumps up their crime detection stats. He might have used different wording.
I didn’t mind- I’m sure that money will go into the public funds for Street Naming to Bewilder the Populace, no need for silly projects like new libraries, or Garda to stop morons on nearby Mountjoy Sq stoning bus drivers. OK illiterate bus stoners don’t need libraries, but spare a thought for bus drivers who could be mortally wounded in their own city. My workmate was on O’Connell st, also around aug, when he saw 1 skanger hit another over the head with a bottle, in broad daylight. The injured man fell into the road- and a bus driver only just pulled up in time.Later, my bus was going past the GPO & the driver pulled up short to avoid a man dawdling across the st, glazed look on face, didn’t even look at the bus. The driver said he nearly hit a female stoner (and probably bus stoner) in the same location a week before. But I say DON’T blame the stoned underclass- blame the Government that created them. Just let people whose ancestors were once ordinary urban working people sink into despair, with no opportunities to be trained for a decent living, and let serious crime flourish- because all our money goes to fund the rich. Oh, and when funds run low because of this, squeeze more out of ordinary middle-income people, with made up fines.
Making the O’Connell st district safe for all esp bus drivers should be a huge priority.
(a few bus shelters would b nice too) A start could be made by redeploying Frederick St Garda to round up stoned bus stoners on Mountjoy Sq.I do realise they’d need extensive re- training before they become productive workers. However their current skill set Could actually be usefully deployed in hurling a few missiles at the Dail. Anna

Anna said...

let me re-phrase what i said above, more succinctly- most deaths on Dublin city streets are caused by Skangers- not motorists travelling at a little more than 30kms. Incidentally if we have to travel at 30kms an hr,on Dublin's congested city sts won't most of us have to Speed up.? Last summer a woman was stabbed to death - at 2.30 in the day- by 2 women- right outside the Rotunda hospital. Just across Parnell Sq a man stabbed his frind- at 4pm in the day. These are the Real Deadly Problems on our streets- and the council & the garda refuse to acknowledge it.Anna

Anonymous said...

"Yet again it seems that the burden of responsibility for road safety will lie with the motorist".

LOL classic Michael McAleer nonsense

Hmmm let me see now...

Maybe that's because you are in charge of something that is most likely to kill someone if you make a mistake!!!

Anonymous said...

I drive (Mazda something or other). I ride a motorbike (Norton 850 Interstate (PL)). I cycle (Trek 7300 hybrid) and I walk (Keens San Sebastien size 10) and occasionally when the sun's no longer in the sky. I crawl those 15 klms home so in all fairness my opinion is valuable in this debate because I just might know what I'm talking about when it comes to speed limits. 30 kph is half the speed I'm used to doing in the Spazda. 30 kph is the same speed as I do on the bike (avec un vent derriere - it's a Peugot) and here's where it starts getting interesting - 30 kph is 7.5 times the speed of walking AND 30 times the speed of crawling!!! The Irish Bureau of Statistics (IBS) have determined that the average City/Suburb Home to Work Journey (HTWJ) is 15.72 klms which under the new regime will take just over half an hour. Half an hour is the perfect length of time when it comes to listening to most people's favourite programs on the radio. Mind you I do like to listen to some of the National Broadcaster's hour long programs and I'm sure there must be lots of you who do too and besides - who's in that big of rush to get home anyway- how about we lobby the DCC to reduce it to 15 kph Ponyboy

Anna said...

I have seen 1 (ONE) pedestrian sub-way in Dublin (pop. 1.5 million) in Blackrock, in 13 yrs here. In fact I think that’s the only 1 I ever saw in the COUNTRY.
Even Newry, NI, (Pop.38, 000) has 2 or 3, so pedestrians can walk under a busy ring road- they are very common in UK/ NI cities, even small towns.
I was on the Nevsky Prospekt St Petersburg, 1 of the worlds most famous streets , 4kms long. They had two impressive wide sub- ways under this.
Each, in fact, had several branches leading into these….so you could find a conduit to the 2 main tunnels at several points along the Nevsky Prospekt ,
Hundreds of well-behaved people would walk down the subway side tunnels and main concourses at once. Hugely impressive (wow I loved St Petersburg…and the Underground trains…well that’s the subject of another eulogy)
Underneath were well-behaved buskers, food kiosks, souvenir stalls, theatre tickets stalls, even, amazingly, grannies selling knitted goods – an Irish granny wouldn’t go near O’Connell St unless her wheel chair could go from 0-120 in 2 seconds.
If I mention subways as a safer way for pedestrians, and a way to eliminate time wasting pedestrian lights on busy streets here, I am told that they will be filled with scumbags.
Appalling – don’t do anything to improve life for fear of the Zombie/ Skanger class…just give into a class which (officially) Dublin city council/ Garda. / Dublin Bus pretend doesn’t exist (i.e. I’m sure Dublin Bus website doesn’t let on its drivers are afraid to go near Mountjoy Sq after SEVEN PM- and its probably why there are no bus shelters round O’Connell St/ city centre either)
Subways would not fill up with scum – if you had cameras, & plenty of Garda about. Or you wouldn’t even NEED to police subways if you didn’t HAVE a Zombie class. Well the Irish Zombie class had increased by 9900 %* during the Celtic Tiger years
(* These are my stats entirely). Why? Because Huge Amounts of Public money was given to the rich and greedy – money needed for ordinary working class districts for decent education/ housing/ Social centres/ job creation / health centres/…and when things went wrong for drug & alcohol rehab centres/ homeless shelters/ police patrols to stop crime flourishing etc…arise citizens. We’ve had enough. Anna

Anna said...

Talk is cheap. Actions rock. Nothing will work so powerfully on the minds of our leaders than a rounded- up frothing mob of Celtic zombies hurling stones and bottles, outside the Dail and city council. Should work wonders. They’d have a better view then, of ordinary peoples needs: if that view is from their Lear jets and helicopters, all the better. Whaat? Heartless & mean? I didn’t create such a shockingly deprived underclass, our Frankenstein rulers did. –Anna

The Gombeen Man said...

@ PB. A Norton 850, eh? What year is that Ponyboy? I'd a Kawasaki GT750 years ago, and that was nippy enough.

@ Anna. Good points (as usual) Anna. You're right about the subways. They don't do them here... apart from that one in Blackrock and the only other one is/was in Ballymun (as kids my old dear had a friend out there and we'd go out there often enough).

In stark contrast, of course to Nevsky Prospekt. Never been there but came across it reading Gogol... if you haven't read his stuff I highly recommend "Diary of a Madman" and some of his short stories, including "Nevsky Prospekt". "Dead Souls" is good too, but he went mad himself before it was published and he burned half the manuscript, so it ends rather abruptly.

Re our bus-stoning underclass, it would be nice to find away to focus all that pent-up destructive energy in a positive way, wouldn't it?

Lew said...

I've been reading this in the Irish papers since Monday and I couldn't believe it when I read it.
The last time I was in Ireland I tried driving through Dublin in the morning from the ferry and IF I said we done an average of 10mph I'd be lying, it was way slower. I've never seen traffic like it.
It was impossible to get anywhere near 18mph!
Even if it was possible such as in the evenings, what on earth do they need a speed limit that low for?
Over here we have 20mph zones, they are almost impossible to keep to, especially as I have a diesel and it ticks over higher than that unless I use a very low gear, wasting diesel that I cannot afford (the fact I use biodiesel is irrelevant it still has to be paid for)

I cannot understand for the life of me why anyone would have whats basicaolly a citywide speed limit so low, I could understand if it was as you passed schools or fire/ambulance stations and revert back to a decent speed as you passed them (let the bacon fend for itself)

"Re our bus-stoning underclass, it would be nice to find away to focus all that pent-up destructive energy in a positive way, wouldn't it?"

Why not make it compulsary that once someone reaches 18 yrs of age (unless they continue in education then make it as soon as they finish education) they do 2-3 years in the armed forces like national service.
That may teach them some manners, self respect and more important respect for others.
It would also reduce drastically the number of people out of work, and they'd have a career they could continue for life if they liked it, if not they'd learn enough skills to get a decent job anyway

Anonymous said...

What the hell is it about this bloody country why is everything so wrong and negative?

Why is the unwritten rule all pervasive here???

Why are people so afraid to try to change things here??? WHY is there no competition in public transport here???? Friends of mine from the States cant comprehend the lack of public transport. They are completely dumb struck by it. They tell me time and time again its not a real country unless you can get around it with relative ease. There Greyhound transport network is superb. Also the transport networks in the cities is excellent.

I know of at least two americans who wont set foot in Dublin as they had very bad experiences with Dublin bus. They cant understand why people put up with not having a proper public transport system. They dont drive and cant get around unless they pay a fortune for taxis. Its embarrasing.

I totally agree with them. Why are Dublin bus drivers so nasty, whats there problem. Everyone has to put up wit a certain level of crap now a days in their jobs. What makes them so "special." All I can say is, I have never met such downright rudeness. By and large they are horrible individuals.

Unless the TRANSPORT situation is tackeled - in especially the Irish cities - then any economic recovery will be as baseless as the last one.

Blackguardism is a way of life in Dublin.

Shoe said...

I'd love to know exactly where in Dublin you can reach a speed of 30kmph aside from at 5am on a Tuesday morning. Anytime I'm in town I rarely even reach 20kmph - if even that. In fact I'm generally overtaken by pedestrians. A pointless law if ever there was one.

Now what about the law stopping pedestrians from blocking the road outside nightclubs at 3am and 4am thus endangering other road users? That could be more useful IMHO.

Ella said...

Hi GM, just reading that this 30kmph speed limit was proposed at a Dublin City Council Meeting on 05 October and was debated for 30 mins. 34 councillors voted in favour, led by Labour's Andrew Montague and only three councillors voted against, Gerry Breen (FG), Bill Tormey (FG) and Niall Ring (IND).

Another thing motorists were told that when if driving 30kmph up the Quays they would be sure to get all green lights, well guess what... they don't!

Councillor Breen has said he will try and get the new speed limit reversed. Let's wait and see.

Anonymous said...

Hi GM, What a lively debate! Further to Ella's last comment, even Cllr. Montague (Labour) now seems to be slightly back-tracking on this one. At least he is if his radio interview with Eamon Keane today on Newstalk is anything to go by. Apparently, even our city Burghers have been disconcerted by the adverse public reaction to this daft law. In Cllr. Montagues case, the fact that Eamon Gilmore, (his party leader) issued a statement questioning the practicality of the law might have served to concentrate Cllr. Montages thoughts. If it where to be said that his leaders opinion carried more weight with him than that of the public, then that, of course, would be wrong. :)

Anonymous said...

No evidence has been produced to support allegations that pedestrians (as opposed to cylists involved in accidents with HGVs) have been in any significant number of accidents around O'Connell St. and the City Centre. However two ladies were killed by a bus near the GPO a few years back. The reason? DCC removed the footpath, so there is no longer a clear demarcation between the road and the path. Nothing has been done about this, and it remains a serious danger to pedestrians in O'Connell St.

Anonymous said...

why dont the council keep there 1million on making the roads in the city 30km and make it law for cyclists to wear a helmets. the speed limit is a joke.

Neil McDonnell said...

I agree it's just another way for the government to squeeze somemore cash out of us. The total lack of signage is a sure example of this. How on earth are tourists or people over on business with rental cars to know that the new speed limit is 30kpm

bill tormey said...

I have got as much of this reversed as I could given the personnel elected to DCC.
Bill Tormey

The Gombeen Man said...

Thanks Bill.

You succeeded in getting the area to which the ridiculous limit applies pared back, and that is very commendable.

You're up against it with that lot. I wonder what planet some of them are on.

Keep up the good work.