Cork County Council is to consider lowering speed limits in towns and villages across the county to 30 kilometres per hour.

30km speed limit proposed

A 30 kilometres per hour speed limit in all town and village centres across Cork could be a new reality for motorists as councillors have called for dramatic changes to be made.

The motion, put forward by Independent Cllr Marcia D’Alton, received strong backing from councillors this week and will now be reviewed by Cork County Council.

Speaking at County Hall, Cllr D’Alton said that town centres should be for people and not dominated by cars.

“Town centres should be places where we can shop and socialise and meet friends. Cars don't shop and cars don't socialise,” said Cllr D’Alton.

Cllr D’Alton said that reducing the speed limit to 30km per hour would mean fewer and less severe accidents while helping to protect younger, older and more vulnerable road users.

She also highlighted a number of environmental benefits such as improving air quality and reducing sound pollution by almost half.

She said a reduced speed limit would mean an estimated 15 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide, a 40 per cent reduction in nitrogen oxide and a 45 per cent reduction in carbon monoxide.

Currently, a speed limit of 50km per hour is in place in built-up areas other than motorways or special speed limit zones.

One of many county councillors supporting the motion was Fine Gael Cllr Anthony Barry who said that, although it may not be the most popular decision, pedestrian and cyclist safety must come first.

“I could be the first one to be caught breaking it myself, but a limit of 50km per hour on main streets in town centres is just too fast,” said Cllr Barry.

Also supporting the motion was Green Party Cllr Alan O’Connor who said that increased numbers of silent electric cars posed an extra risk in town centres, pointing out that electric cars tend to be heavier than normal petrol cars.

However Fianna Fáil Cllr Seamus McGrath said that, although he supports the motion, he feels that the enforcement of a reduced speed limit may be an issue.

He said: “As a society we have to slow down and be mindful of other road users. The only problem I have with this motion is that it's not accompanied by enforcement. From what I can see there is virtually no enforcement, and that's a problem.”

Responding to the motion, Cork County Council Director of Services, Roads and Transportation, Padraig Barrett, said that the proposal is “simply unfeasible”.

However, Mr Barrett added that there is a place for the introduction of 30km per hour speed limit byelaws on particular targeted streets such as side streets in larger towns where the aim is to give precedence to pedestrian use over vehicular use.

It is unlikely that any change in speed limits will be seen this year, with Cork County Council set to review speed limits in summer 2021.