Cyclist.ie welcomes today’s announcement by Jack Chambers, Minister of State for Transport, regarding significant changes to speed limits under the National Speed Limit review.
This development is part of a comprehensive suite of measures to be delivered under the Irish Government’s Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030 and marks a pivotal moment for road safety in Ireland. While we celebrate these changes, we must emphasise the urgency of their implementation at both national and local authority level – and the critical need for enforcement by An Garda Síochána.
The National Speed Limit review – Action #6 (page 5) of the Road Safety Strategy Action Plan (Phase 1, 2021-2024) – represents a significant step forward in our ongoing efforts to create safer roads for all users. It underscores the government’s commitment to prioritising road safety as a top concern. These adjustments to speed limits are a cornerstone of that commitment.
One of the most important proposals within this review is the call for a 30kph speed limit in built-up areas, but this must encompass not only our cities, urban and suburban areas, but also our rural towns and villages. This move will be testament to the government’s commitment to protecting vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists. Lowering speeds in these areas not only enhances safety but also fosters a sense of community and livability.
We must also address the proposed default 60kph speed limit on Local roads. On many of our Local roads, this proposed default limit would still remain unacceptably high, given these roads’ characteristics and challenges. We advocate for a reassessment of these limits, considering factors like the function of the road (is it used or desired to be used by people walking and cycling?), road conditions, terrain (e.g. bohereens with grass running up the middle?), and population density, with the aim of reducing the default speed limit to 50kph or even 30kph, where necessary.
To bring these changes to fruition, we call for strong leadership and ambition at the local government level. Local authorities and their councillors are essential in the successful implementation of speed limit reforms. It is critical that they take swift action to adjust speed limits in line with the new guidelines, saving lives and making our towns and villages more welcoming places.
In conclusion, Cyclist.ie stands firmly behind the mission of creating safer roads and promoting sustainable transportation. We celebrate the National Speed Limit review as a significant stride toward this goal, but we urge that these reforms are implemented urgently and enforced rigorously. Lower speed limits in built-up areas, near schools, and on local roads are essential components of this vision. We need to see cross-party support at national and local level to ensure that our roads are safe, inclusive, and welcoming spaces for all.