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Is Dublin really planning a blanket 30km/h speed limit?

COMMENT & ANALYSIS: Dublin City Council’s plan to extend 30km/h speed limits was last week branded by the AA as a “blanket zone” and their spokesman said that “the Council have essentially coloured in [a map of] the whole of the city centre [with 30km/h]” — the council replied and said that this is a “total misrepresentation of the facts”… but who’s right?

30km-h hard changes
IMAGE: Extra engineering can follow the roll out of 30km/h — as it happened Dublin city centre (pictured above) and many of the streets to be covered already have traffic calming or some sort (examples shown below).
Arwen Foley, a spokeswoman for the AA and “lead traffic reporter on Morning Ireland”, told another Morning Ireland reporter (MP3) that: “The AA does not have an issue with 30km/h limits, the problem is a 30km/h blanket zone. It’s going to encompass between the canals and out as far as Sandymount and Ringsend and Crumlin, Drimnagh, and Phibsborough. It’s a blanket zone.”

In a statement used at least by a number of media outlets, Conor Faughnan, head of communications at the AA, claimed: “AA does support 30 km/h zones and Dublin City should have plenty of them, but when you use 30 it should be properly designed. It should be in sympathy with the engineering layout of the road and should be essentially self-policing. Instead the Council have essentially coloured in the whole of the city centre.”

A council spokeswoman (as quoted by the said: “In terms of the accusation that we have ‘essentially coloured in the whole of the city centre’, this is a total misrepresentation of the facts as we have deliberately excluded the main arterial routes from our proposal.”

For the area within the canals, the AA gives the impression that it is a “blanket” limit covering or “colouring in all of the streets and roads within. But 30km/h will not be covered under the change and will remain as 50km/h:

Church Street Upper, Constitution Hill, Phisborough Road, Prussia Street, Manor Street, Wolfe Tone Quay, Ellis Quay, Arran Quay, Inns Quay, Ormond Quay Upper, Wood Quay, Essex Quay, Merchnat’s Quay, Usher’s Quay, Usher’s Island, Victoria Quay, O’Donovan Rossa Bridge, Father Mathew Bridge, Liam Mellow’s Bridge, James Joyce Bridge, Rory O’Moore Bridge, Frank Sherwin Bridge, St John’s Road West (east of its junction with Military Road), Old Kilmainham, Mount Browne, James’s Street, Thomas Street, Thomas Street West, Cornmarket, Bridge Street, High Street, Dean Street, The Coombe (East of St Luke’s Avenue), St Luke’s Avenue, Cork Street, Dolphins Barn Street, Dolphin’s Barn, South Circular Road (from Suir Road eastward), Harrington Street, Donore Avenue (south of the South Circular Road), Clanbrassil Street Upper, Clanbrassil Street Lower, New Street South, Patrick Street, Nicholas Street, Winetavern Street, Richmond Street South, Charlemont Street, Harcourt Road, Adelaide Road, Leeson Street Lower (From the Grand Canal to the Junction with Fitzwilliam Place), Fitzwilliam Place, Fitzwilliam Square East, Fitzwilliam Street Upper, Fitzwilliam Street Lower, Merrion Square North, Pearse Street (from its junction with Tara Street to the Grand Canal), Tara Street, George’s Quay, Sir John Rogerson’s Quay (between the junctions with Cardiff Lane and the Samuel Beckett bridge), Samuel Beckett Bridge, Cardiff Lane, Macken Street, Grand Canal Street Lower (between Macken Street and the Grand Canal), North Wall Quay, Custom House Quay, Talbot Memorial Bridge, Butt Bridge, Beresford Place, Memorial Road, Amiens Street, North Strand Road, Guild Street, Seville Place, Portland Row, North Circular Road, Russell Street, Gardiner Street Lower, Gardiner Street Middle, Mountjoy Square West, Gardiner Street Upper, Summerhill and Summerhill Parade.

Let’s look at all the areas to be covered by the changes planned for December of this year (yellow shaded areas) and in April of 2017 (light blue shaded areas)…

In Coolock, it’s all housing estates and residential roads covered (except a section of the R809 shown beside the roundabout in the right hand corner of the image — which has to be an error as it’s in not suitable for 30km/h):

This is the typical street covered in this area: a dead-end residential estate streets a place where people live and where children play:

And feeder roads within those estates, most of which seem to already have traffic calming and do not act as through routes: 

Below, in Raheny, the main roads clearly remain at 50km/h (unshaded) and at 60km/h (marked in green):

The next section of map includes residential, housing estates roads:

There’s clear evidence of traffic calming around this area — traffic calming is nearly always only done where residents request it, so there’s likely support for keeping speeds low here:

In Glasnevin, all the residents will be only seconds away from a 50km/h road and it’s unclear why anybody would be driving here except for access:

In Drumcondra, the area covered is small and confined to housing estates:

The Phibsborough/Cabra area covered retains a network of 50km/h roads:

This image shows a road in the Phibsboro/Cabra area, which will remain at 50km/h… Would it be better at 30km/h?

Sandymount will be all 30km/h, except for the coast road… And why not? These are nearly all fairly narrow residential streets with limit through traffic.

In the area covered around Drimnagh, Crumlin and Walkinstown, the main roads again remain at 50km/h or 60km/h, except for an existing school-time only 30km/h (shown in red and only operates at the start and end of the school day).

In the city centre, there’s two areas the yellow which represent 30km/h to be implemented in December and the existing core 30km/h zone shown in purple. Included are the highest density residential areas in the country. There’s few streets we can see which are marked as 30km/h which should not be — Western Way and maybe Queen Street are two:

In the southwest of the inner city, the picture is much the same — the main routes are excluded and there’s few streets unusable to 30km/h:   

In the southeast area of the inner city, there’s a larger number of streets which maybe be best to stay at 50km/h, or maybe use 40km/h. The streets which do not look suited to 30km/h without design intervention include St Stephen’s Green south and east, Kevin Street, Merrion Square west, and Earlsfort Terrace.

The council could possable defend the inclusion of some of these streets in terms of high pedestrian numbers and existing policy to favour walking and cycling in the city centre, but this would likely be unwise if they use that defence for all of the streets mention above.

But even if you tripled the number of streets possibly unsuitable to 30km/h, a focus a minority of streets isn’t the AA’s approach. They have publicly stated that they have an issue will all of the plan, not a limit section of it. They want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. They have not even attempted to say the plan is partly flawed, their stance is to attack the whole plan.

It’s fairly clear that overall there’s no blanket zone, unless the AA wants to throw the baby out with the bathwater?

To find out more and take part in the public consultation for Dublin’s 30km/h plans, visit

MORE: Conor Faughnan’s stance on 30km/h leaves the AA lacking any credibility on speed limits is reader-funded journalism. That means it's funded by readers like you.

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Cian Ginty

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