DUBLIN CITY Council plans to reduce speed limits to 30km/h throughout most of the city centre, including O’Connell Street and the Liffey quays, to make the city safer for cyclists and pedestrians.
The council lowered speed limits around most of the shopping and central business areas of the city from 50km/h to 30km/h in 2006, but was unable to reduce the speed on O’Connell Street, the quays, and from D’Olier Street to Christchurch because they are national primary roads.
Unlike the rest of the streets in the city centre, the national primary network is controlled not by the city council but by the National Roads Authority (NRA).
To change the speed limits, the council would have had to have these roads delisted from the network, a move the NRA was reluctant to make.
However, amendments to the speed limit legislation made by Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey last December allow special speed limits to be introduced by local authorities on sections of national roads, subject to the consent of the NRA.
The council is to write to the NRA asking it to allow special speed limits to be placed on the sections of the primary network that pass through the central core of the city.
These are: the N1 (O’Connell Street); the N4 (North and South Quays between Fr Matthew Bridge and Butt Bridge); the N11 (D’Olier Street, College Street, College Green, Westmoreland Street, Grafton Street, Suffolk Street, Church Lane, Dame Street); and the N81 (Christchurch Place, Lord Edward Street, Cork Hill, Dame Street).
The changes will mean that the entire city area from Parnell Street in the north to St Stephen’s Green in the south and stretching as far as Church Street in the west and Gardiner Street in the east will have a maximum speed limit of 30km/h at all times of the day and night.
The council’s traffic engineers said the speed limit change would result in a significant reduction in road fatalities and serious injuries, without significantly slowing travel times for motorists.
Some 5 per cent of pedestrians hit by cars travelling at just over 30km/h are killed. At just under 50km/h, fatalities increase to 45 per cent.
“There are high pedestrian volumes in this area throughout the day and at night and very significant pedestrian crossing movements,” council senior engineer Ronan O’Dea said.
The new speed limits would also significantly improve the traffic environment for cyclists in the city centre, he said.