Department of Transport pushes AA idea of 80km/h on urban roads

— Dublin City Council says it received 550 submissions
— 96 submissions misunderstood proposal as a ‘blanket 30km/h zone’

Dublin City Council were told by the Department of Transport to “ensure that due regard” was given to suggestions by the AA, including using 60km/h on city centre streets and 80km/h on urban residential streets and roads.'s reader-funded journalism won't survive without your help. With over 762,000 views so-far this year, it's not just "avid cyclists" who read this website, but, if you want it to keep going, more support is needed from readers like you. Now, back to the article...

The submission by AA Ireland, a motoring lobby group and insurance company, was one of 550 received as part of the public consultation on the council’s proposed speed limit changes. The main proposals centre on expanding 30km/h speed limits across the city centre and onto residential streets, but exclude most main roads.

Roy O’Connor, a senior executive engineer at Dublin City Council defended lower speed limits. He said: “The overriding principle that must inform any decision to change a default speed limit should be road safety, in particular, the reduction of fatal and serious road collisions.”

The city council said that there was around 96 submissions which contained the misunderstanding that its proposals for 30km/h included main traffic corridors or arterial routes, when this is not the case.

In a council report on the public consultation, O’Connor said: “As part of the proposed Special Speed Limit Bye-Laws 2016, it is proposed to expand the 30km/h special speed limits on predominantly residential streets (or in the proximity of schools). Residential streets are identified as roads and streets whose function is intended to provide local vehicular access and egress between places of residence and the arterial or link roads nearby.”

“This proposal is not to introduce a blanket 30km/h speed limit. It is proposed to retain the existing 50km/h default speed limit on all arterial and link routes across the city.”

The council said for those traveling into and out of residential roads and streets that the maximum delay is calculated to be 1 minute and an average of just 30 seconds.

The AA’s suggestions — which are out of line with the Department of Transport’s own guidelines — were rejected by the council. The Department of Transport said: “this Department is now requesting that arrangements are made in your Local Authority to ensure that due regard is given to roads, or sections of road, on this list.”

IMAGE: Streets and roads where the AA submission suggested increasing the speed limit to 80km/h (red), 60km/h (orange), and 70km/h (pink). These suggestions were rejected by the council.

The rejected suggestions from the AA outlined in the report includes increasing the speed limit on:

  • Fairview Strand from 50km/h to 80km/h
  • The “North & South Quays” from 30km/h and 50km/h to 60km/h
  • Dawson Street from 30km/h to 60km/h
  • Mourne Road in Drimnagh from 50km/h
  • Ballymun Road from 50km/h to 80km/h
  • Cork Street from 50km/h to 60km/h
  • Conyngham Road from 50km/h to 80km/h
  • Auburn Avenue in Castleknock from 50km/h to 70km/h

It’s unclear why Auburn Avenue was suggested or reviewed as it is part of the Fingal County Council area, and there is also no 70km/h speed limit. The AA also suggested lowering the limit on Claremont Lawns in Glasnevin to 30km/h.

Comments included in the AA submission included: “Ridiculous for a city centre commuter route – adding to congestion – cyclists passing out cars – senseless, bring in law for cyclists to wear high viz jackets and helmets – unnatural to do 17mph in a modern car. Infuriating and a money making scheme.” 

In its report, the council outlined detailed reasoning against the AA’s suggestions, including — the presence of pedestrians and cyclists, the number of junctions, the residential and/or retail nature of the streets and roads, existing traffic calming requested by local residents, and at least in one case the presence of schools.

Dublin City Council said it will be retaining the 50km/h limit at City Quay in Dublin 2, not reduce it to 30km/h as previously proposed, and; it will lower the limit   to 30km/h on the Inchicore Road in Dublin 8 from the junction with the South Circular Road to the junction with Memorial Road.


The proposed implementation dates for Phase 1 (within the canals) & Phase 2 (a selection of suburbs) have been pushed back to March 31 and May 31, 2017, respectively. Phase 3, which will look at other areas of the city, will follow.

A summary of other submissions includes:

  • 100 submissions which were fully supportive or generally supportive
  • 100 which said that “reducing speed limits on its own is not sufficient.”
  • 83 submissions expressed concern that the “current speed limits are largely ignored and enforcement of existing speed limits is requirement to deliver safer roads.”
  • 60 submissions claiming “that lower speeds will increase pollution and congestion on the city streets with negative environmental and economic consequences.”
  • 47 submissions which expressed “a primary concern that it would be difficult to travel at 30km/h for an extended period of time.”
  • 34 submissions which expressed the “view that this proposal is an initiative to target the motorists specifically (predominantly suggested that the proposal is a new revenue stream from speeding fines).”

The city council said that 30km/h limits were shown in Ireland or internationally to reduce collisions and injuries, lower speeds, and lowers noise and air pollution.

In reply to environmental concerns, O’Connor said: “Generally speaking the slower a vehicle travels the less fuel it consumes in accelerating and maintaining speed. With less fuel consumption comes less emissions. Research in Germany has shown that the greater the speed of vehicles in built-up areas, the higher is the incidence of acceleration, deceleration, and braking, all of which increase air pollution.”

The council said further engineering interventions, educational awareness campaigns in association with other state agencies and continued enforcement of the traffic law would be needed to enforce the proposed limits.



  1. Increasing speed limits will simply give motorists more time to spend queued at red lights. The average speed or cars commuting inside the M50 is rarely above 30kph so why do they think increasing speed limits will even make a difference?

  2. From the Irish Times article: ”n the city centre, including the north and south quays and Dawson Street, the speed limits should be doubled, the AA said, from 30km/h to 60km/h. The current limit was “ridiculous” and added to congestion, it said. Cyclists were passing out cars which was “senseless” and a better cycle safety measure would be to make helmets and high-vis jackets mandatory, it said”
    So bikes being faster than cars is bad and cyclists should wear hi-viz helmets so drivers can drive faster… that’s the AA summed up there.

  3. The true extent of the ‘motorisation’ of our society is tellingly revealed here in that the Department of Transport sided with AA Ireland to persuade the City not to designated certain streets 30 km/h.
    This same department of state knows that it is under the kosh to reduce transport greenhouse gas emissions to comply with COP22 commitments so the more citizens that can be got out of cars the better.
    Calmer streets are essential to that modal-shift.
    It is clear that a new regime is in the ascendant within that Department! A regime that is going to renege on climate-change realities.

  4. Mike, the demands from the AA (or more likely random people who answered their survey) date back to at least 2012 and don’t necessarily reflect the policy of any politician.

  5. Colm, the submission from the AA may well date back to 2012, but does the DOT advice to give “due regard” to this submission also date from 2012, or is it a recent request? In either case, because this is essentially a politically motivated request, it is reasonable to believe that it is likely to have originated from a senior political figure within the DOT, as opposed to being a whim of a civil servant who would be far more likely to respect their own guidelines.

  6. In fairness to those who took the time to respond to the consultation, if almost 20% misunderstood the proposal, it suggests the information available was confusing.

    I certainly thought the graphic with the map was unclear. This was probably the image that had the biggest impact, and was also used by some media outlets. The use of similar colours for the 50kph routes (white) and 30kph routes (cream) didn’t help. At first look, it did appear that the entire core city area was to be set at 30kph. It was only when you took the time to read the consultation paper in detail that you got the facts.

    I hope when the it comes to implementation, more thought goes into the imagery used to get buy-in from the public. It need to be clear that the areas to be impacted are residential or with significant numbers of vulnerable road users (eg, children, shoppers, tourists). If this doesn’t get approved, I would be amazed.

  7. Apologies, I checked and the Department originally circulated all councils with the proposals in Circular RSD 02/2015 dated 1st July 2015. However, some of the individual AA proposals date as far back as at least 2012.

  8. I think we can safely ignore anything said by someone who thinks increasing the speed limit will somehow reduce congestion on the quays.

    Sorry, I should say “we should be able to ignore” but unfortunately we can’t ignore this hodge podge of gibberish presumably dredged up from some motoring forum because people who want to drive faster will believe it because they want to.


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