Minister asked not to use ‘homezone’ sign without legal backing

Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe has been asked not to use a sign (above in yellow) recognised by international road traffic law unless he puts legal backing behind it.

IMAGE: The international sign for residential area with pedestrian priority and legal protection for playing children.

The Galway Cycling Campaign said yesterday that using the signs would be confusing given that such signs are used with legal backing in other countries, where some streets are legally defined as “living streets”, “residential areas” or “play streets” — no such legal backing exists or has been announced in Ireland.

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Proposed Irish sign for residential area without pedestrian priority and no specific legal protection for playing children
IMAGE: Proposed Irish sign for residential area without pedestrian priority and no specific legal protection for playing children

However, it said that Irish traffic law confines pedestrians to footpaths unless crossing the road.

“In these zones, in other countries, children and other pedestrians have legal priority over cars and are legally entitled to use the entire road – playing on the street is permitted and protected by law,” said Galway Cycling Campaign PRO Oisin Ó Nidh. “By using this sign under existing Irish law the Minister has effectively given it a meaning opposite to common understanding.”

The signs are part of the Department of Transport reaction to the Jake’s Legacy campaign which seeks to have 20km/h as standard in residential areas. However, Jake’s Legacy has said they are unhappy that lower speed limits are being left up to councils which have been slow to act on the issue.

The Galway Cycling Campaign said that Ireland is now “effectively rejecting international standards” it is calling on the minister to either drop a recently announced road sign or bring Irish traffic law into line with how the same sign is used in international traffic law.

A statement from the campaign said: “In 1993 the legal concept of a residential area with pedestrian priority and a maximum speed of 20km/h was incorporated into international traffic law – the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. Under this UN Convention a sign with pictures of a house, a car and two people playing on the road with a ball indicates a ‘residential area’ (sign E17a).”

The campaign said that the following countries have “the same law and similar or related signage”: the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Sweden, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Spain, Belarus, France and Switzerland. The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Austria “also specify a speed limit of walking speed in these zones.”

It added: “In a submission to the Minister, the Galway Cycling Campaign points out that Ireland has free travel to and from other European countries. We have a duty to people from other cultures, including children, not to use commonly understood road signs in a way that is confusing and contradicts their original meaning. The Cycling Campaign has called on the Minister to either retract the new road sign or bring Irish traffic law into line with international law.”

MAIN IMAGE: Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD, with RSA CEO Moyagh Murdock; from/by DTTSA; used under permission given on department’s copyright page and under Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005 (SI 279 of 2005)


  1. Completely agree. In Ireland, authorities seem to think that just putting up signs will change that part of the road immediately. A clear law is needed and, equally important, the layout of the road needs to be adjusted too.

    This is not only needed for this particular sign but for instance also for the general 30 km/h zone. In my eyes a two lanes for cars is not compatible with a 30 km/h zone. One lane of traffic will also automatically slow traffic.

    The hardest thing to change is the people’s mindset that a car has priority in a city centre where it should mainly just be condoned and limited by specific rules and regulations.

  2. I just read the DTTSA page linked and notice that the other sign, white circle with three diagonals “means that drivers must use their judgement when using the road in question but must not exceed 80km/h in any event”

    This is a highly peculiar use of this sign. In many European countries it actually means an end to all previous limitations on that road.


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