South Dublin County Consultation on the introduction of 30 km/h speed limit in residential estates
1.0 Dublin Cycling Campaign
Dublin Cycling Campaign has been working for over twenty years to encourage cycling and to represent the interests of everyday commuting cyclists. We want to make streets safer for cyclists and to increase public awareness of the benefits of cycling. We want to see a quantum increase in the use of the bike for commuting to study, work and for utility purposes, recognising that a ‘critical mass’ of cyclists in traffic leads inevitably to safer streets. Safer streets for cyclists are also safer streets for pedestrians.
Dublin Cycling Campaign favours a default speed limit of 30 km/h in residential areas and in all areas of high pedestrian and cycle use. This includes residential estates as well as the centres of villages and towns and the areas surrounding schools. We believe there is a need for a paradigm shift in how road authorities manage traffic so as to enable pedestrians to use our roads and streets safely and to cater for the safety of the 8-80 age cohort while cycling. Road traffic planning and provision in recent years has been for the benefit of the private motorist to the detriment of other road users such as public transport, pedestrians and cyclists
2.1 30 km/h speed limits in residential estates
Dublin Cycling Campaign favours the introduction 30 km/h speed limits in all residential estates. Reducing vehicle speeds to 30 km/h would make residential estates safer for everyone - children and adults (including the elderly, the infirm and the disabled), pedestrians, cyclists of all ages, and motorists. Lower speeds reduce the potential for collisions and, importantly, reduce the severity of injury in the collisions that do occur.
Indeed, there is no need, demand nor ability to travel at 50 km/h or higher on many of those roads. As many of these routes are not through routes, the effect on journey times would be negligible.
In addition to improving safety, lower speed limits in residential estates would encourage young people to move about independently and would encourage parents to permit their children to do so. This would have consequential benefits for their fitness and general health and would contribute to combating the rising levels of obesity in our society. The improved safety, and perception of safety provided by lower speed limits would transform residential estates into more vibrant living spaces, with consequential benefits for the quality of life of residents and visitors. Dublin Cycling Campaign recognises that reductions of the speed limit will not be successful in reducing speed and improving safety unless it is accompanied by improved enforcement and appropriate road design. We support the recommendation in the Design Manual for Urban Streets (DMURS), the official guidance policy for local authorities in relation to street design, that insofar as possible lower speed limits should be accompanied by psychological and physical measures to encourage observance.
2.2 Potential for other 30 km/h Speed Limits
Further, while we recognise that it may not be part of the current consultation process, we propose that 30 km/h be considered as the default urban speed limit, and that any higher speed limits be introduced only after a full environmental and risk assessment.
In the interim we recommend that periodic 30 km/h zones be implemented around schools and other places of assembly (cinemas, theatres, community centre, religious buildings, etc.), in particular those that have large numbers of people arriving and / or departing at the same time.
Such changes are important, in particular in light of the low average age of the South Dublin County population and the large number of new schools that have been built in recent years. There are approximately 140 schools in South Dublin County - www.education.ie/en/Find-a-School/
We also believe that lower limits should be introduced in “village” type situations such as the centres of Clondalkin, Lucan, Palmerstown, Newcastle, Rathcoole, Saggart, Tallaght, Rathfarnham and Templeogue, and in the various neighbourhood centres, where pedestrian activity is higher and sight limits are often reduced. We have already supported the proposal for the introduction of a 30 km/h zone in Tallaght Village in our observations on the proposed Tallaght/Templeogue Cycle track and recommended that it be extended to an area greater that that proposed in those plans.
3.1 Benefits of Lower Speed Limits
Regarding personal safety, 30km/h is fundamentally safer than 50km/h for pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users. It is well established that lower impact speeds result in fewer and less severe injuries. The images below demonstrate this.
Image 1: Illustration from the Road SafetyAuthority showing the impact of vehicle speeds on pedestrian fatalities.
Image 2: Image demonstrates how lower speeds can minimise casualties or avoid them altogether.
Image 3: Graphs demonstrating the fatality risk of being struck by a vehicle at different speeds (Rosén, Sander, Stigson - 2011).
The general experience of the 30km/h limits in Dublin City (as part of a range of measures) that were implemented in 2005, expanded in 2010 and adjusted in 2011 have been overwhelmingly positive. Traffic fatalities have fell from 53 in 1997 to 19 in 2005 to 5 in 2012, while other casualties also fell, especially among pedestrians and motorcyclists. However, not only is there the safety and socio-economic dividend, but it makes the city centre a nicer place to be.
The Design Manual for Urban Streets (DMURS) recommends that where cyclists and pedestrians are present in large numbers lower speed limits (30 or 40 km/h) should be applied. It also recommends lower speed limits where vehicle movement priorities are low, such as on local streets.
Throughout Europe, 30km/h is fast becoming the default urban speed limit. In some cities, speed limits as low as 10 km/h are in place in ‘home zones’. Even in the United States, where car is king, 25 mph (40 kph) limits are common in urban areas and 15 mph (24 kph) limits are rigorously enforced at schools. In an effort to curb traffic fatalities, New York City lowered its default speed limit to 25 mph (40 kph) from the 7th November 2014.
In the UK the “20’s Plenty” Campaign has been successful in securing reduced speed limits in many urban locations and has produced a Briefings page http://www.20splentyforus.org.uk/briefings.htm with many documents showing the benefits of 20 mph limits. Lower speeds result in less noise and pollution and greater fuel efficiency (high fuel consumption is associated with stop-start traffic, not slow traffic). On residential roads and shopping streets, people simply don’t want to be exposed to the noise, fumes and dangers from higher speed traffic.
While 50km/h isn’t particularly noisy / polluting in itself, the acceleration from stop to 50 km/h is much noisier / more polluting than the acceleration from stop to 30 km/h. Reduced acceleration also means improved fuel economy.
Image 4: Engine noise and rolling noise as a function of speed.
The reduced fuel consumption from lower speed limits would contribute to the reduction in emissions that is required to help us meet transport greenhouse gas emission targets.
Experience in other jurisdictions has been that the introduction of 30 kph / 20 mph speed limits has led to an increase in the number of people walking and cycling, leading to a further reduction in emissions.
Higher speeds have the psychological impact of discouraging pedestrians and cyclists and encouraging the use of larger and heavier cars. This has wider implications for society in impairing social interaction on the street (causing isolation), effects on the balance of trade (from the import of vehicles and fuels), health issues from lack of exercise and exposure to pollution, and lack of passive supervision allowing crime to go undetected. The objective of any safety measures should be more than to reduce the number of casualties, but also to empower vulnerable road users, especially children and older people, so that they can be an active part of and avail of all of the facilities in their community and not be intimidated by traffic.
Dublin Cycling Campaign fully supports the introduction of 30km/h speed limits in the vast majority of residential estates and would like to generally support the expansion of the number of roads in South Dublin County with lower speed limits.
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