— AA claims “We didn’t lobby for speed limits to go up”, after they did.
— Spokesman attacks “online coverage and some of the tweets stuff”
An AA Ireland spokesman told a national radio show that Dublin City Council plans to reduce the speed limit on all arterial routes to 30km/h, despite the council making it clear that it has no such plans.
A Dublin City Council report (PDF) covering the recent public consultation on speed limits shows that the AA lobbied the council to increase the speed limits on a number of roads. But, when speaking on the Last Word on Today FM, Conor Faughnan, the director of consumer affairs at the AA, said: “We didn’t lobby for speed limits to go up. We’ve put a lot of work into bring speed limits down around the country, the 80km/h on boreens which the AA were behind getting rid of.”
Last Wednesday presenter Matt Cooper asked “Did you not ask that certain arterial routes coming into Dublin to have their speed limits increased?”. Faughnan replied: “No, Dublin City Council proposed that they all be reduced to 30km/h but we proposed that there would be expectations made on some of them. That’s what we said. I’ve seen some of the online coverage and some of the tweets stuff which was misrepresenting both the city council and ourselves.”
He added: “In terms of what we were actually looking for, we’re happy enough for 30km/h zones extensively used provided that they are probably designed but we’re not happy with with a road designed and built with a faster flowing speed than that to have its speed limit artificially reduced because I think it gives rise to conspiracy theories.”
Dublin City Council, however, has said a number of times that 50km/h will be maintain on arterial routes.
In a council report, Roy O’Connor, a senior executive engineer with the council, said: “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 draft speed limit bylaws also included a long list of city centre streets which will remain at 50km/h. But, despite this, Faughnan said: “In Dublin city centre, what the city council are proposing is for essentially for the entirety of the city centre. Everywhere between the two canals — all of those roads with a couple of specific expectations will have a speed limit of 30km/h.”
When asked by the presenter of examples of where the AA would like to see exceptions to lowering the speed limits, Faughnan listed from the Five Lamps to Fairview, sections of the quays “west of the city” and “east of the city” and Blackhorse Ave — but consultation documents currently still online at www.dublincity.ie/speedreview show that none of these streets are planned to be be changed from their current 50km/h limit.
Faughnan also name checked Mourne Road in Drimnagh as a street which should not have 30km/h introduced on it. This street is planned to have 30km/h, but the city council report points out that this street is residential in nature, it already has speed ramps requested by residents and there is a school on the street.
On the Last Word, Faughnan added: “Ballymun Road… is a dual carriageway and the notion that 30km/h speed limit apply on a dual carriageway at 3am, I don’t see any road safety dividend there.” But according to Dublin City Council, they never planned reducing the speed on the Ballymun Road to 30km/h and the AA asked them to increase the speed on it to 80km/h.
Another guest on the radio show, Cllr Andrew Montague — a local councillor from the Ballymun area — objected to the AA’s idea of increasing the speed on the Ballymun Road to 80km/h. Cllr Montague pointed out that there houses facing out onto the road and the road includes three primary schools, two secondary schools, a university, church, library, and health centre.
Cllr Montague also pointed to the AA’s proposal of increasing the busy city centre Dawson Street from 30km/h to 60km/h and Cooper added that the idea “seems mad”, Faughnan said: “You have got to have speed limits that make sense on the roads in question, you can haggle them road by road.”
MORE: The Last Word, 23rd November 2016 Part 2 (at 27mins mark)
MORE: Department of Transport pushes AA idea of 80km/h on urban roads
Respectable radio shows should not be indulging in post-truth
COMMENT & ANALYSIS: On the Last Word last week the AA could have put up their hands and said that they were wrong to lobby for 60km/h, 70km/h and 80km/h on busy urban roads and streets. Including busy city centre roads and roads and streets with homes and schools on them.
Instead, their spokesman confused the issues at hand. Roads where the council has no plans for 30km/h are claimed to be covered. When daft examples of AA lobbing are given, it’s all a matter of debate.
The Ballymun Road has a load of pedestrian crossings, junctions, and what’s along the road resembles the contents of a town centre. But because of the amount of lanes and a central medium, the AA thinks it’s a normal “dual carriageway”. In other cities, tree-lined streets of this size and setting are called boulevards.
If the AA are going to deliberately confuse issues, maybe it’s time for respectable radio shows to stop asking them to speak on air about road safety?
A lie repeated often enough becomes the truth.
How can he get away with saying they haven’t asked for limit increases and then address the situation where they asked for a limit increase (a ridiculous one) on Dawson Street later in the show? What does “You have got to have speed limits that make sense on the roads in question, you can haggle them road by road.” mean in response to the question about the madness of raising the limit on Dawson Street to 60kph? Is he admitting that they are throwing in a few insane requests so they can retract them and claim that they compromised?
Conor Faughnan really is the master of appearing reasonable while being just as much of a car obsessed ideologue and anyone else in the motoring lobby. Keep your eye out for his favourite tactic which is to say something along the lines of “We are of course completely in favour of but not until is done. For example, he’s all in favour of more and better cycle infrastructure but not at the expense of taking away any space from drivers or parking. He’s also all in favour of more bus lanes and public transport but not until public transport is just as good as driving.
It’s all chicken and egg with him and he is making nice money in the employ of the aged and failing chicken who has no intention of letting any competition hatch.
Incidentally I often cycle from the Five Lamps to North Strand and I can tell you that it’s a real pain in the arse to make a right turn. I mean it is a road with residences and shops on both sides but what the hell, the traffic must flow right?
Not that increasing the speed limit makes traffic flow better. Increased limits probably make things worse as often as they make them better. After all slamming cars even faster in to the bottlenecks isn’t a good idea. If Faughnan really wanted to improve traffic speed he’d be lobbying to reduce the amount of traffic.
The DCC report by Roy O’Connor is interesting reading. It’s a bit odd that the AA submission was received via the Department of Transport. I thought the extracts from the AA contribution reflected badly on them, the points raised were a bit spurious, and lack authority in how they were phrased. The seemed more like a rant.
I would expect a government department, in receipt of this type of communication, to return to sender and point to where all submissions should be directed.
The mistake many people are making is to believe the AA are trying to be an honest broker interested in what is best for the city and its citizens. Their raison d’être is to promote the interest of the car driver as in the Automobile Association.To expect Conor Faughnan to advocate what is best is akin to expecting Cian Ginty to promote car ownership.