Garda Chief Superintendent Tom Curley has said he would be “absolutely delighted” to see a 30km/hr speed limit introduced across Galway City.
The issue of reducing the speed limit was raised at the Joint Policing Committee today by councillors Owen Hanley and Niall McNelis, who asked for garda support to make Galway’s streets safer for families and older people walking, and people cycling.
The Chief Superintendent said that reducing the speed limit was already being discussed to improve safety for cycling, and that this is supported by Inspector Peter Conlon and Superintendent Damien Flanagan.
Galway Cycling Campaign welcomed the added support for a 30 km/h speed limit, which has come a week after a public meeting that explored the benefits of lower speed limits.
Spokesperson Martina Callanan said that lower city speed limits are becoming more common in European cities such as Athens, Milan and Brussels.
“This will give parents peace of mind to bring small children into the city centre to shop and dine, when children play and cycle outside their homes, and as children and teenagers walk and cycle to school,” she said.
Mairéad Forsythe of Love 30, Ireland’s campaign for lower speed limits, was in attendance at today’s meeting on Zoom, and said that introducing a 30 km/h speed limit would be a significant achievement for road safety in Galway.
“It will make our roads safer for people walking, cycling and driving. Most important of all, slower streets make our neighbourhoods more pleasant places to live, work and for children to play.”
Earlier this year, analysis of collisions where speed was a factor, using data from 2016 to 2018, showed that the most dangerous stretches of road in Galway depended on the type of incident counted.
The Headford Road just past Galway Shopping Centre had by far the largest number of collisions in the three year period, with 29 incidents.
However 27 of these were classified as minor collisions, with two serious incidents, and no deaths.
The most dangerous area was the Upper Newcastle Road in Galway City just past the quincentenary bridge, where there were 13 collisions from 2016-2018, including two fatal incidents.
Kevin Jennings, chairperson of the Galway Cycling Campaign, added that the typical road speed limit of 50 km/h ‘does not feel fast if you are behind a windscreen’.
“The research is stark: speed is the biggest contributing factor to road deaths in Ireland. If a person walking is hit by a person driving a car at 50 km/h, there is a 50% chance that person will die. At 60 km/h – that’s only 10 km faster – 9 in 10 pedestrians will die,” he said.
“Slower speed limits have an added benefit of improving traffic flow. Scientific models show motor traffic flowing more steadily at lower speeds in congested networks.”
A total of 1,773 people were caught speeding in the city between January and May this year, up from 1,209 in the same period in 2019.