Advocates for everyday cycling call on all to support Prof John Crown’s plea for lowered speed limits nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prof Crown, consultant oncologist at St Vincent’s Hospital and former Senator, called for lowered speed limits nationwide during this public health emergency .
We are all concerned by reports countrywide of people driving faster. Though our roads are emptier, six people died in road traffic collisions last week  and road deaths are up by a quarter for 2020.
The Road Safety Authority, Gardaí, medics and the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport are asking motorists to slow down to avoid overburdening hospitals . This does not go far enough.
The number one action to ‘lower the baseline’, and reduce one of the biggest causes of hospital admissions, is to immediately lower motor vehicle speeds, says The BMJ  and NHS doctors in The Times . This is supported by 20’s Plenty for Us, a UK campaign for more liveable street environments by setting a mandatory 20 mph (circa 30 km/h) limit for most roads where people live .
The Isle of Man introduced an all-island speed limit of 40 mph (circa 65 km/h) from midnight Friday to ensure that its hospital does not become overwhelmed during the coronavirus pandemic .
Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, National Cycling Coordinator with Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network that represents over twenty local campaign groups, greenway groups, and bike festivals, says:
“We need more than a message that ‘motorists must slow down’. Lowering and enforcing speed limits will reduce the frequency and severity of road traffic collisions. Lower speed limits could be achieved immediately via ministerial order under Section 4 of the Road Traffic Act 2004 , but this will need buy-in from all. We call on Minister Shane Ross, An Garda Síochana, and the Road Safety Authority to act now.”
Phil Skelton, founder and chief campaigner of Stayin’ Alive at 1.5, the successful campaign for the introduction of a cyclist specific dangerous overtaking law for Ireland , says:
“We can reduce collisions in our cities, towns and villages with a 30 km/h speed limit. Every day we witness more people stepping off narrow footpaths – where they exist – to maintain the 2 metre physical distancing. With the new restrictions announced last night, people are now limited to exercising locally with 2 km of their homes. Essential workers will continue to commute by bicycle and by foot. We need drivers to slow down, give space to people cycling and walking, and save lives. ””
Mairéad Forsythe of Love 30, a campaign for lower speed limits , says:
“Research is stark: collisions at 50 km/h are five times more likely to be fatal than at 30 km/h . We need to follow the example of the Isle of Man and make our rural and urban roads safer from our doorsteps. We need lower speed limits, now.”
Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, and other cycling and walking groups support Prof Crown’s call for immediate reductions in road speeds, in particular a default 30 km/h speed limit in urban areas.