Dublin City Council on the 30 kph fiasco

Dublin City Council March 1st debate on the City Centre 30 KPM speed limit.

The issue was brought up under the report on the breviate Report No 100/2010  from the Special Meeting of the Transport and Traffic Strategic Policy Committee held on 18th February 2010.

The SPC suggestion, which was taken by the Lord Mayor as an amendment to my motion to revert the speed limits to the situation that pertained before 31st January, was signed by four Labour Councillors Upton, Conaghan, Lacey and Moynihan and had been passed 8 votes to 6 at that SPC.

  1. To retain the 30 KPM limit along the Liffey Quays from Capel Street Bridge to O’Connell Bridge including both bridges and to revert to the previous speed limit for the remainder.
  2. To revert to 50 KPM at Winetavern Street and on Kildare Street.

A roll call vote was taken on the (Labour) amendment and was voted for 22 against 20. The motion needed 26 votes to be carried so it fell.

A roll call vote on the substantive motion was then put and lost 28 against 12 for.

Therefore the status quo remained.

My comments at the meeting are on record at Dublin City Council Webcast on the net.

In essence I said that I am a citizen of a free republic and I prefer an Irish solution to a Dublin problem rather than the slavish importation of rules from abroad. I thanked those who communicated with me by email especially Mr Carl Ginty, a free-lance journalist whose referenced letters were excellent but contrary to my position. 

I quoted the British Medical Journal article on 20 MPH speed zones in London (BMJ 2009;33:b4469) which reported casualties as a whole down 15.3% to 30.1% (all 95% confidence intervals), numbers killed or seriously injured down 17.8 to 39%, and pedestrians  12.9% to 30.4%. Ironically, “in the case of cyclists, the point estimate suggests almost no effect (-1.3%, -22.3% to 19.8%)”. 

Those are the figures that I was trying to quote in my contribution which had to withstand interruption from the chair. I did quote the BMJ article “As most collisions occur on roads that , in  the UK, are inappropriate for implementation of the 20 mph zones…..”

This leads to my main points (1) the Quays are main east/west transport arteries in parallel with Griffith and Collins Avenues and the M50 on the Northside (the Southside being more hub and spokes in road direction terms). (2) The 30 kph (18.6mph) along the quays are excessive and oppressive. (3) That red platforms for pedestrian priority should be built at the Halfpenny and Millennium bridges in the interests of safety and quality of life (4) that j-walking and reckless cycling should be prosecuted (5) That speed cameras should be put on the quays to monitor speeding above a reinstated 50 kph (30 mph) (6) That the data on traffic accidents in the new zone is inadequate as shown by the figures released to Councillor Naoise O’Muiri at the North Central Area Committee – see table in 16th February entry here. There are no figures for 2008 or 2009, therefore the influence of the truck ban from 2007 is impossible to interpret. The overall trend is downwards with the city center being a safe place for pedestrians. There are not the relevant data to interpret the context of the fatal accidents in that zone. What is clear is that half the accidents involve pedestrians up to that date with the trend slowly downwards which means that altering pedestrian behaviour is likely important to reduce injury numbers.

What the city has here is a decision made in the absence of compelling or even adequate data by councillors acting on a hunch and persuaded by a nice guy with proselytizing ability.

Labour by sanctioning this U-turn is signalling that they got this wrong in October last. However, by failing to recognise that the quays are a continuum and should be regulated and policed appropriately, Labour brought forward a flawed amendment engineered essentially to save Councillor Montague’s blushes. I was not going to vote for this fig-leaf of obfuscation. My point about the arterial nature of the quays is supported by the avoidance of the 30 kpm along the Gardner Street thoroughfare and the High St/Bridge St/Church St route by the anti-car lobby. But I have no doubt that these dominos will fall in the future unless a full stop is now put in place.

However, by including Winetavern Street and Kildare Street in their swerve, we have something to work on. I will invite Labour to meet Fine Gael, Niall Ring, Christy Burke, Louise Minahan, Sinn  Fein and others to see can we free up the Quays and agree to the safety measures which I am seeking. Any such agreement will have to go to public consultation. If there is no serious attempt to reach agreement, I will carry on a relentless campaign for common sense to defeat this blight on city traffic governance. Cars have to be regulated appropriately but there is no need to regress to the bell ringer and cryer before the earliest cars.  Henry Ford and the Model T did Mankind some service. Let’s keep that in mind.

All is not lost – yet!

I must make it clear that I support a 25 mph speed in housing estates, near schools and in city areas such as Temple Bar and the IFSC.

But that is for another day.

I wish to thank those who wrote me e-mails both supportive and critical during the current controversy.