DCC Notes for March / April 2021

Compiled by Dermot Carmody

Citywide Introduction of 30 kph Speed Limit

Councillors on the South East Area Committee (SEAC) meeting by Zoom on March 8th were given a presentation on the proposed citywide rollout of a default speed limit of 30 kph with particular reference to the South East Area by Rossana Camargo, Executive Engineer with Dublin City Council (DCC).

Councillors heard that the Loving 30 campaign associated with the new speed limit would promote the main aims of the measure, which are to reduce traffic speed on the roads and to make it safer for people walking and cycling in the city, especially children.

The plan envisages a default speed limit of 30 kph on roads and in villages. Ms. Camargo highlighted the success of similar moves in other European cities. Dropping the speed limit to 20 mph (Approximately 32 kph) in London and Edinburgh has been successful reducing accidents and casualties considerably. In Paris the introduction of a 30 kph limit has reduced emissions, while in Brussels the benefits of reducing the limit were achieved without, it was claimed, significantly lengthening journey times in the city.

Ms. Camargo noted that having numerous different speed limits should be minimized in order to avoid excessive distracting signage on roads, and that under the proposed measures the speed limit around all school areas would drop to 30kph, bringing obvious safety benefits to children.

The plan proposes two notable exceptions where the speed limit would remain at the 50 kph limit as at present. These are the stretch of the N11 from the border with Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council to the junction of Anglesea Rd and Beaver Row, and the route from Dublin Port Tunnel to the Sean Moore roundabout, both northbound and southbound. The latter exemption would be in place to facilitate trucks accessing the waste incinerator. 

Once initial feedback had been elicited from councillors, Ms. Camargo said the proposal would go to the Public Consultation Hub from 29th of March to 9th of April, and would ultimately be enacted in December 2021 if a full DCC council meeting passed it.

Councillors were broadly supportive of the proposals, including Fine Gael councillors Paddy McCartan and James Geoghan. Mr. Geoghan commended the Safe Schools initiative and suggested that residential roads could adopt a similar model. He asked if it would be possible to trial the 30 kph limit on residential roads. Ms. Camargo said this was not possible under the relevant bye-laws.

Cllr. Mary Freehill (LAB) noted that cities used for comparison in the report, such as  London and Paris, have underground rail systems which contribute to people’s ability to travel round the city. She argued that the  Metro here should go ahead. Cllr. Deirdre Conroy (FF) echoed this point and raised the issue of buses speeding. She said there should be automatic speed cameras to enforce the speed limits. Cllr. Mannix Flynn agreed with Cllr. Conroy’s concern about buses, which he said “think they’re in some sort of Grand Prix.”

Cllr. Claire Byrne (GP), also welcoming the proposal, questioned whether trucks should remain able to travel at 50 kph on the Pigeon House Road in the context of attempts to improve matters there for pedestrians and cyclists.

A number of councillors alluded to the failure of DCC to pass similar measures in the recent past. Cllr Pat Dunne (I4C) said it was unfortunate that similar proposals were defeated last year  as result of lobbying of councillors by motorists and other groups. He said the 30kph limit applies in many suburbs and the city centre and that it’s time to roll it out citywide. He hoped Councillors will resist lobbying this time and the report is implemented. Cllr Anne Feeny said she had voted against the last report as she had felt it was impractical to enforce, but that she had changed her mind and been convinced this time because of better communication on the Loving 30 campaign. Expressing support for the plans, Cllr. Caroline Moore Caroline Moore (GP) said it has to be about more than just changing speed limits. She said that infrastructural changes will also be needed to slow traffic down, and that signs alone won’t work without traffic calming measures.

For the Council, Ms. Camargo said they were liaising with Gardai on enforcement of existing 30 kph limits as well as plans for enforcement under the proposed changes.

Presentation On Planning Enforcement by DCC
John Downey, Administrative Officer planning Department DCC, gave a presentation on Planning Enforcement by the Council, following which Cllr Mannix Flynn expressed concern that developers in docklands have exceeded the permitted building height in new developments. He also expressed concern that, to facilitate outdoor dining, publicans are building gazebos and encroaching on footpaths without permission. He said this was not just street furniture but permanent structures “nailed into the ground.”

Mr Downey said that the matter of one specific docklands building height was in court at the moment. On the matter of outdoor dining, he said use of the footpaths was under licence from the Roads Department. Private landings to which the public has access is under the Planning Department. He said there may be a relaxation of rules as the government wants to encourage outdoor dining because of covid. DCC Roads and Planning Department will make a policy decision on accommodating any such easement of rules.

Cllr Claire Byrne said she gets lots of complaints about breaching of rules in developments especially in Docklands. In a lot of cases, according to residents, builders just continue to breach working hours and traffic plans, causing stress to residents who feel that nothing is being done about it. She accepted the department was doing its best to enforce rules but said residents were being left in a difficult situation. 

Mr. Downey responded saying that there is no 30 day grace period for working hour breaches by developers and that the department engages with them immediately on such breaches. He said developers need derogations of working hours where large concrete pours are required. If it comes to the department’s attention that they are breaching working hours they halt these derogations for a period, giving the department some leverage to enforce rules. He sympathised with residents near infill development in the city and said that generally even where there are complaints the department finds that builders are compliant but admitted that, because it is so close to residents who are staying at home, it still causes a problem.

Cllr. Paddy McCartan (FG) brought up the matter of short term lets (STL). He said the Information he got from revenue says owners of buildings must now provide tax details – their PPS and the property number. He was glad to see revenue involved and wondered what the impact of these changes will be?

In response, Mr. Downey said that the success of new revenue measures will depend on people complying with the requirements to submit details. People will try to hide the fact from revenue and local authority that STL is taking place, he said, and it can be difficult to identify – especially with apartments, which ones are being used for STL.

Report Suggests Belmont Avenue Traffic Calming Measures
Andrew Duff Neighbourhood, Transport Engineer at the Department of the Environment presented the outcome of a report into posible traffic calming measures in Belmont Avenue in Donnybrook. Problems on the residential road, where a school is also located, arise from narrow footpaths and carriageways. The issues are rat running during morning and evening peak hours and speeding by motorists. Mounting of kerbs by drivers and speeding to pass other vehicles on the narrow road have been noted by drivers. 

Suggested actions include the reduction of speed limit to 30 kph, removal of some parking bays to allow cars to pull in to let oncoming traffic to pass, hopefully decreasing aggressive driving, removing parking entirely and widening the carriageway and footpaths, and institution of a one way system on the road.

Two further solutions, however, appeared to be the most likely to succeed and to meet the approval of residents, according to most councillors. These are firstly, restricting access to vehicles from the Donnybrook end only, or secondly a “filtered permeability” scheme, whereby locations would be provided where cars can turn and exit the road from where they came in.

Councillors agreed that these two were the more feasible of the suggested options, but some expressed concern that any such action was bound to have a knock on effect, increasing traffic on adjacent roads in the area as a result.

The proposed options are likely to be whittled down in number following feedback from councillors, and will be opened up to public consultation in April, Mr. Duff said. April will open up options for public consultation. He said that where displaced traffic goes depends on the options ultimately chosen. He conceded that traffic will go onto neighbouring roads but noted that Belmont Avenue is not designed to take peak traffic, whereas Marlborough Road, for example, is an arterial route and could take more traffic than Belmont Avenue.