Speed limits of 30k to be considered in built up residential areas

This issue was raised at the October Council meeting. The following report was given by Council officials:

“The Road Traffic Act 2004 provides the legislative basis for the application of special speed limits through the making of bye-laws. Under the Act, it is a reserved function of the elected members to make such bye-laws following a period of public consultation and relevant engagement with the Gardaí/NRA. Default speed limits already apply on roads throughout the state depending on the nature/location of the road in question, i.e. roads in built-up areas, on motorways, rural national roads and rural regional and local roads. These limits range from 50km/h in built-up areas to 120 km/h on sections of motorways and are set out pursuant to the Road Traffic Act 2004. Guidelines for the Application of Special Speed Limits were most recently published by the Department of Transport in 2011 and set out, inter alia, the criteria to be considered by the elected members prior to any decision being made to alter the default speed limit by the introduction of a special speed limit, and the procedure to be followed by the Council in the consideration and making of any bye-laws in this regard. The Guidelines state, from a general perspective, that the introduction of a speed limit that is lower than the default speed limit should not be the immediate response to road safety issues at particular locations and that engineering initiatives should always be investigated first. The Guidelines also state that it has been clearly established that the introduction of a 30km/h speed limit without associated speed reduction measures will not succeed. Insofar as the introduction of a 30km/h special speed limit within a residential estate is concerned, the Guidelines stipulate as follows:
• The application of a special speed limit of 30km/h must be in accordance with the relevant criteria set down in the Guidelines.

• A 30km/h special speed limit should only be considered on roads/streets where the needs of vulnerable road users are deemed to take precedence over those of motorists but where access is allowed for vehicles.

• A 30km/h special speed limit should only be considered on roads/streets where the mean speed does not exceed 40km/h. If it exceeds this speed then environmental/engineering measures must be provided to reach this target before the new limit is applied.

• In determining suitable locations for the consideration of a 30km/h special speed limit, the elected members must first have reference to the level of concentration of vulnerable road users, especially children, as well as the evidence of road collisions in which vulnerable road
users were involved.

• A distributor road in a residential area should not be considered for a permanent 30km/h special speed limit. The Road Traffic Act 2004 also provides for the application of a special speed limit at selected, restricted times. In this regard the Council is considering the introduction, as part of the 2013 Speed Limit Review, of a pilot 30km/h special speed limit – to apply at school times only – at Carrickhill Road, Portmarnock and, subject to final approval from the elected members, it is hoped to launch this pilot scheme in the coming months.”

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The issue of speed limits in residential estates was again discussed at the November Council last night. Two motions were tabled by members to see the 30 kph speed limits rolled out throughout Fingal. The response from officials is outlined below:

“Circular RSD 01/2014, on the Control of Vehicle Speeds in Housing Estates, recently issued by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport requires local authorities, inter alia, to undertake a review process of speed limits in housing estates, with a view to introducing 30km/h speed limits in appropriate estates. In this regard, the Minister states in the Circular that his Department is currently updating the Speed Limit Guidelines, which he expects to publish within the next 6-8 weeks.

Fingal County Council intends to conduct its review of speed limits in consultation with the elected members and the general public and to have regard to the new Speed Limit Guidelines, as well as existing relevant national guidelines, namely the Traffic Management Guidelines 2003, the Traffic Signs Manual 2010 and the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets 2013.

In addition to the introduction of 30km/h speed limits, alternative or complementary options including new signage and other traffic calming measures (e.g. speed ramps) will be considered as part of the overall review process. The adoption of bye-laws, following a statutory public consultation process and relevant engagement with the Gardaí and the NRA, will be required for any new 30km/h limits.”

We talked though how long this process will take and we are looking at somewhere between 6 months and a year before it is fully rolled out across the County. The Council will look to pilot some areas and get the consultation process started as quickly as possible.