— Council planning increases from 50km/h to 60km/h and 80km/h
— Areas affected are residential or between homes and schools
Mayo County Council has blamed a national transport body for its plan to increase speed limits on a number of urban roads across County Mayo.
The response from the council came after IrishCycle.com asked for justification for planned increases in speed limits in the towns of Ballina and Swinford. We have since learned that the urban section of the N5 in Castlebar — which includes busy junctions, access to a schools, and is largely lined with housing estates and houses and businesses — is to be increased from 50km/h to 60km/h.
Michael Lyons at Roads Design Office of Mayo County Council, said: “The proposed speed limits in Swinford and Ballina referred to are in compliance with the Speed Limit Guidelines, published by the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport. As these are on National Roads, these speed limits have been proposed by Transport Infrastructure Ireland who are responsible for proposing and approving speed limits on the National Roads network.”
Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) has not responded for a request for comment, however, according to a source who has detailed knowledge of speed limits regulations, the council — not TII — are ultimately responsible for the speed limits which are proposed.
It is understood by this website that TII can block any proposals for lower limits on national roads but that TII cannot force the council to implement speed limit increases and approval is ultimately up to councillors.
The Speed Limit Guidelines refereed to by the council are clear that 50km/h is the default urban limit and that 80km/h is a rural speed limit, which can be reduced around less housing than in the areas around for speed limit increases.
In Swinford, speed limit increases from 50km/h to 60km/h and from 50km/h to 80km/h are planned on an urban section of the N26 in the east of the small town. It means people walking and cycling between housing estates in the east of the town and the town centre or schools would have to pass through new sections of 60km/h and 80km/h speed limits.
Another planned increase on the Foxford Road in Ballina will increase the speed limit from the urban default to 60km/h on a section of road which is lined with houses and housing estates.
Road Safety Authority has its headquarter offices near the proposed speed limit increase in Ballina, but the the authority said it has not been consulted. Brian Farrell, a spokesman for the Road Safety Authority, said: “I can confirm that we have not been asked to provide input to this review but I do understand that the consultation process is still ongoing and that the date for submissions has not yet expired.”
We asked Mayo County Council why the Road Safety Authority is listed on the council’s website as haven been consulted, when it seems like they were not. The council said that the notice on its site was an error, but the RSA were on a council committee where the speed limits were discussed.
Lyons said: “There is no requirement to consult formally with the RSA or the AA in relation to the speed limit review and this is an error in our web site notice. However, the RSA and the AA can make a submission as part of the consultation process. The speed limit review has been discusses at the Road Safety Working Together Committee. The RSA are represented on this committee.”
The public consultation for Mayo’s speed limit review has now ended and it will be up to county councillors in the new year to approve or reject the speed limit changes.
The council is also planning some speed limit reductions. These include changing some minor roads around towns and villages from 80km/h to 60km/h, and new 30km/h limits for some of its housing estates, however, some other housing estates will remain in 50km/h, 60km/h and even 80km/h speed limit zones.
The news in Mayo follows Dublin City Council rejecting suggestions by the AA to use 60km/h on city centre streets and 80km/h on urban residential streets and roads. City councillors later remarked that the AA’s suggestions were “foolish” and “absolutely ridiculous”.