Community advocates for safer streets are pleased that a majority of Galway city councillors voted to include 30 km per hour speed limits outside city schools as part of the city’s speed limit review at Monday’s council meeting, and that the Executive promised a full review of speed limits of all city and suburban roads by 2024.
Former mayor Cllr Colette Connolly’s motion to introduce 30 km/h speed limits in school zones was supported by representatives of Fianna Fáil, Green Party, Labour, and independent councillor Mike Cubbard.
“It’s a wise decision and we thank the nine councillors who want to make school zones safer by cutting the speed limit from 50 km per hour to 30 km per hour outside school gates across the city,” said Kevin Jennings, chairperson of Galway Cycling Campaign.
“The Road Safety Authority says the evidence is clear. If someone driving a car at 50 km per hour hits a person walking, it’s 50:50 whether that person lives or dies. At 60 km per hour, which doesn’t feel much faster when you’re driving, the survival rate is a grim 1-in-10. At 30 km per hour, your chances of survival rise to 9-in-10. My children and their neighbourhood friends deserve to be as safe as possible going to and from school, and my parents should feel safe trying to cross the road,” he continued.
“We’ve been advocating for lower urban speed limits for years, so we’re glad our representatives are following the science,” said Martina Callanan, deputy chair of Galway Cycling Campaign.
“The benefits for people not in motor vehicles are clear. There’s reduced risk of collisions and the horrendous risk of injuries and fatalities is also reduced.”
“There’s also the knock-on effect that more people feel comfortable to leave the car in the driveway and walk or cycle short journeys.”
The community group also points out that the proposed 30 km per hour inner city zone will enable the council to - quickly and cheaply - install more zebra and raised courtesy pedestrian crossings.
Researchers at Princeton University recently found that three out of every four drivers yield to a pedestrian in a basic crosswalk at 30 km per hour. At 50 km per hour, that rate drops to one in eight drivers. Lower speed limits lead to calm sharing of the roads.
“The new pedestrian crossing with lights at Salthill’s Blackrock is very welcome, yet it shows the huge amount of time and money it takes to install something so needed. If the Prom had a speed limit of 30 km per hour, the council would have the freedom to scatter zebra crossings like confetti at multiple points between the diving tower and Grattan Road,” said Ms Callanan.
The Executive’s promise of a full review of speed limits on all city and suburban streets is also welcome.
“Within a year, residents living along Clybaun and Shantalla roads to Merlin Lane and Ballybane Road could also reap the benefits that a 30 km per hour speed limit brings,” said Mr Jennings. “Galway is at the beginning of a journey to transform our streets to make them safer and more accessible for all ages and abilities, whether you walk, cycle, or take the bus.”