I’d like to broadly welcome the proposal to calm traffic and provide a safer route to school for the pupils of St. Paul’s and St. Gabriel’s.
One item that may want to be considered is footpath width – it appears from the drawings that the footpath narrows to 1.6m in places. The Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets (DMURS) notes that 1.8m is the absolute minimum for two wheelchairs to pass each other. Given the proximity of St. Gabriel’s it’d be great to have a small extension to the footpath width.
It appears that road width (excluding provision for active travel modes) has been kept to a 5.5m minimum. DMURS notes that the range for a standard carriageway width on Local streets is in the range of 5 to 5.5m. If the road carriageway width was reduced further, it would provide further width to facilitate active modes, and perhaps a different design would be possible.
I can’t help but think that a combined shared path would be better for all active modes but I think this proposal is better than leaving the street as it is.
Finally, I note one of the submissions stated that “It is not too late to put the interests and wishes of the residents first. Those who pay taxes, vote and live here 24/7/365.” I would like to respectfully disagree with that statement, I believe that providing infrastructure that would help children travel to primary school independently is the mark of a generous and civilised society, and reallocating road space to active modes of travel is an appropriate way of achieving this. Our children may not pay any taxes but we as adults have a duty to cherish and protect them so that they can lead healthy and fulfilled lives.
Given the fact that the current carriageway width of Fr. Russell Rd is 7.5m and the scheme proposes to reallocate some of this road space away from the private car, I would like to express general support for this scheme, however I believe some aspects could be improved.
From the Part 8 planning report:
“DMURS includes guidance on carriageway widths and recommends that designers should minimise the width of the carriageway…Low to moderate speeds should be encouraged on the roadway with the recommended width in DMURS being 6 – 6.5m”
DMURS does state that the preferred carriageway width on Arterial and Link streets are 3.0m and 3.25m. However given the limited room for footpaths and cycle lanes on Fr. Russell Rd. I believe that consideration should be given to narrowing the carriageway width to 2.75m, which would give more room for active travel modes. A roadway width of 5.5m is still within DMURS guidelines for an Arterial or Link street. This would allow space to widen the cycle lanes beyond 1.5m which is very narrow.
Consideration of a bi-directional cycle lane and other design aspects of a similar active travel scheme in Dun Laoghaire.
Fr. Russell Rd is not too dissimilar to the R112 Taney Rd between Stillorgan and Dundrum in the Dun Laoghaire County Council area. Coincidentally this road is also subject to a proposed active travel route: , and it may be useful to consider some aspects of this scheme, in particular:
A 3m bidirectional which was considered better than 2 x 1.5m lanes
Continuous cycle lanes and footpaths over side junctions, with set back used so that cars cross the cycle lane and footpath at a more perpendicular angle
Bus stops inline with the road carriageway
Unsignalised pedestrian crossing points across the cycle lane at bus stops
The proposed strategy is not consistent with the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021.
A reduction in emissions of 35% over 2018 levels by 2030 proposed in the Strategy is not consistent with the national climate objective, and when taken with 2030 targets from other draft plans published by the Authority in 2022 (Greater Dublin Area: -37.5%; Waterford -26%) raises questions of how the Authority is performing its functions consistent with the provisions of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021.
“(1) A relevant body shall, in so far as practicable, perform its functions in a manner consistent with—
(a) the most recent approved climate action plan,
(b) the most recent approved national long term climate action strategy,
(c) the most recent approved national adaptation framework and approved sectoral adaptation plans,
(d) the furtherance of the national climate objective, and
(e) the objective of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the effects of climate change in the State.”.
– Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021
The proposed strategy is not consistent with the National Planning Framework
The Modelling Report notes that “The NTA, in association with Limerick City and County Council (LCCC) and Clare County Council (CCC) prepared a Planning Datasheet for the 2040 Land-use Scenario for the application within the LSMA Transport Strategy. This Planning Datasheet has been used as the baseline land-use scenario for all modelling of the strategy options and preferred strategy.”. This planning data sheet assigns the majority of population growth in a ‘doughnut’ arrangement on greenfield sites at the periphery of the city. This is in direct contravention of the policy outlined in the National Planning Framework where 50% of growth in regional cities will be developed within their existing built-up footprints. Furthermore, concrete plans being progressed by state agencies (e.g. the Land Development Agency’s plan to deliver over housing for 6,000 new residents on the lands surrounding Colbert Station) have been ignored in the proposed Planning Datasheet.
National Policy Objective 3b
Deliver at least half (50%) of all new homes that are targeted in the five Cities and suburbs of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford, within their existing built-up footprints
– National Planning Framework
The proposed strategy is not consistent with the National Sustainable Mobility Policy
The National Sustainable Mobility Policy sets out a target of a 10% reduction in kilometres driven by fossil fuelled cars by 2030. The Strategy proposes an increase in road capacity through the fact that it “commits to delivering the N/M20 Cork to Limerick Scheme and the N69/M21 Foynes to Limerick Road” as well as proposed roads to open up development lands in the suburbs. The Strategy fails to address any induced demand that will be caused by these projects in the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area. Outside of the city centre area, the Strategy fails to identify any measures that could reduce road capacity that would result in traffic evaporation.
To deliver at least 500,000 additional daily active travel and public transport journeys and a 10% reduction in kilometres driven by fossil fuelled cars by 2030 in line with metrics for transport set out in the Climate Action Plan 2021
National Sustainable Mobility Policy
The proposed strategy is not consistent with the Authority’s own guidance on bus network design
The Authority published an excellent consultation as part of its work on the Cork BusConnects project which outlined two fundamental issues relating to bus network design: the tension between coverage and ridership; and the importance of interchange in providing a coherent public transport network that can deliver modal shift. Unfortunately the proposed bus network for Limerick consists of a series of meandering routes optimised for coverage with few interchange possibilities. Exacerbating this is a proposed traffic arrangement for the city centre which insists on directing buses through O’Connell St, away from the bus and rail station and preventing effective interchange between services.
A well-connected network is key to high patronage. Interchange must be easy and reliable so that people can reach many destinations in a reasonable amount of time, at a reasonable cost.
Bus Network Redesign Volume I: Choices Report – BusConnects Cork
I live in Limerick City but I stay in Killaloe a number of times a month.
Killaloe and Ballina are not pleasant places to walk and cycle. There seems to be a lot of SUVs in the town and a lot of parking on footpaths.
The construction of the new bridge and bypass of Killaloe offers a really good opportunity to transform both Ballina and Killaloe for the better. A great aim would be to make it possible for people of all ages to independently travel between and within Killaloe and Ballina.
The old bridge should definitely be closed to motor traffic after the new bridge opens. To have cars still on it at any time of day would represent a significant failure.
Serious consideration should also be made to close the current R463 in Killaloe between the old bridge and the link road from New St to where the public toilet block is by the canal – it was built itself as a bypass and it should be converted to pedestrian and cycle use after the new bypass is completed.
After the bypass is built, streets in Killaloe and Ballina need to be transformed. Most streets, especially on the Killaloe side, should be made one-way to make room for segregated cycle tracks at least 2m wide to allow people of all ages to cycle safely.
Main Street should have all parking removed and the only traffic should be deliveries before 10am. The current situation where cars mount the footpath as they drive down Main Street is unacceptable.
In the context of the climate crisis and the need to make Killaloe and Ballina a great place to live and to visit whether or not you own a car, I urge you to take the opportunity to direct all traffic on to the new bypass, retaining access for cars but reorienting the roads and streets of Killaloe and Ballina towards people.
Submission on Limerick City and County Council Road Traffic (30 kilometres per hour Special Speed Limit) Bye-Laws 2021
We’ve spent a lot of time and money over the last few decades in Limerick, building bypasses:
Limerick is on a crossroads between, Cork, Galway, Kerry and Dublin. We built a lot of bypasses to facilitate this interurban traffic that had no real business passing our doors. But, despite promises of a future city that would be focused on people (just one more bypass!), none of our streets ever changed, and the interurban traffic was replaced with intraurban traffic.
If we want a better Limerick, a more prosperous Limerick, a more inclusive Limerick, one place we can start is our streets. The current proposal is a fairly modest expansion of the 30km/h zone into a few more housing estates in Limerick City, most of which are on the northside. This is welcome, but it is a small change. We are not proposing to expand the 30km/h area in our city centre, and the majority of the city centre, where we were promised that pedestrians would come first, is still a 50km/h zone. The towns and villages of County Limerick are similarly prioritised for motor traffic.
I would like to suggest a different approach, that we make all built up areas of Limerick City, and our towns and villages in Limerick County, a 30km/h limit, with certain exceptions, for reasons of safety, noise pollution, air pollution and climate.
The Road Safety Authority says that cutting speed from 50km/h to 30km/h will change the probability of a person in a car killing a person walking from 50% to 10%.
The main reason for this dramatic difference in the probability of fatalities is that the kinetic energy of the car is proportional to the square of the velocity: ½mv2. What’s also worth mentioning in passing is that the other variable in the equation, the mass of the vehicle, has also changed, the best selling car in Ireland last month was the Hyundai Tucson which has a real world weight of 1.8t, in contrast to the slightly under 1.0t of the Toyota Corollas who used to drive the city’s streets back in the 1990s. We need a reduction in speed limit to compensate for the motor industry’s tendency to build much heavier cars.
We need to cut the speed limit in all urban areas to save lives. The headlines below all refer to different cases of pedestrians being killed by people driving cars in Limerick.
Limerick is a noisy city, and it is affecting our health. The European NGO Transport and Environment says that reducing the urban speed limit from 50 km/h to 30 km/h reduces noise by 3 decibels, or approximately halving the background noise, allowing more of us to leave our windows open, or to converse comfortably on our streets.
We are exceeding the recommended level of particulates. Even during lockdown in April, we were exceeding WHO-recommended levels of particulates in our city centre.
Reducing the speed limit would particularly help reduce NOx levels from traffic.
The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021 mandates that the next two carbon budgets, covering the period to 2030, must represent a 51% reduction in emissions over 2018 levels and also mandates that a public body (which includes Limerick City and County Council) must, in so far as practicable, perform its functions in a manner consistent with the national climate objective (net zero by 2050) and the objective of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the effects of climate change in the State
The planet is literally burning and we need to do everything we can to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, 20% of which in Ireland comes from transport. We need to encourage people to walk, cycle, or take public transport in urban areas. Reducing the urban speed limit will make driving less attractive.
Once the 30km/h default urban speed limit is established in Limerick, we can then look at very limited exceptions, perhaps on one or two of the many bypasses that have been built in the city, where the limit could be increased back to 50km/h. Critically this should only take place where there is a comprehensive safety audit and the provision of infrastructure to ensure that pedestrians and cyclists are physically segregated from traffic travelling at 50km/h, including at junctions.
Which counties in Ireland drive the most and least? What are the car ownership rates in each county? Ranking by kms driven per capita. Private cars only. Vehicle and km data from the CSO Transport Omnibus 2019. Population data from the earlier 2016 census. Link to a CSV file with the data.
Some news: I started a new job this week. Digging through some of my old emails to prepare for the new role, I found this nugget from 2012:
I’ve said to you before that I think you’d be a fantastic candidate. You’re young, articulate, personable, and most importantly I think you have the integrity and vision to help sort out politics in this city.
I also want to have a candidate (hopefully you!) ready to win a Dáil seat at the General Election after next, which is where I think there’s going to be a real breakthrough for the Greens again nationally.
That email was sent eight years ago to one Brian Leddin. At the time it was implausibly optimistic; the Green Party were polling at 2% nationally, we had never even won a council seat in Limerick, at that point I had one local election and one national campaign under my belt as a Green Party member, and I didn’t exactly have a winning mindset. I was also on the Party’s National Executive. With only a single part-time member of staff it was up to volunteers like me to help keep the party running, and I have memories of composing the national members’ newsletter from my kitchen table to try and keep our members motivated during that time.
Eight years later, I was proud to manage Brian’s election campaign where he won a historic victory by becoming Limerick’s first Green Party TD.
What motivated us through those eight years? I think it was partly seeing so many of our peers leave Limerick, either for Dublin or further afield, both before the economic crisis and after it. Our local perspective was that a different kind of regional development was possible, one that placed the development of compact regional cities, teeming with life and prosperity, at its core. A city that could hold on to its young people and offer a modern, sustainable, and European quality of life. A city that could play its part in responding to the great global justice issue of our time: climate change.
Which brings me back to the new job. When Brian asked me to leave my job as a software engineer and take a hefty pay cut to come and work as his parliamentary assistant, I didn’t hesitate for a second. We have spent so much time over the last eight years, debating the future of our city and our country, and working to make it better. It’s time to take the next step forward.
I’ll be working both in Limerick and in Leinster House, trying to support Brian as best as I can with his legislative duties and his responsibilities as a public representative. Irish voters (rightly!) demand a lot of their TDs. A number one preference vote is a serious vote of trust, and we will have to work hard to repay that trust.
The efforts made to engage the public on this project have been significant and should be welcomed.
In drawing up the master plan, consideration should be given to how the development should be phased. In some cases this might mean that buildings might have an interim use that is different from their final use. This was successfully achieved in Grangegorman.
The development should be an exemplar, demonstrating that our regional cities are capable of significant housing growth in a manner that is sustainable and compatible with our obligations on climate change.
The development should developed as a car free development. Any car parking should be placed at the very southern fringes of the site, in a manner that will will allow future conversion of the car parking spaces to more productive uses. No vehicular access should be available on the North, East or West sides of the site. Significant and secure bike parking should be provided.
The majority of apartments in Limerick are 2-bed apartments. Consideration should be made to increase the diversity of apartment sizing, especially 3-bed and even 4-bed apartments which might be attractive to families. Currently 4-bed houses attract a premium in the Limerick property market.
The site should facilitate through cycling for the public from Roxboro and Careys Roads to Parnell Street. In general the site should be developed with excellent permeability for pedestrians and cyclists from all sides of the development.
Public/affordable housing should be mixed evenly through the development. It should not be possible to visually distinguish public and private housing in the development.
Consideration should be given to prevailing winds on the site and how they can play a role in cooling buildings. The development should include lots of trees and plants.
A specific biodiversity strategy for the site is needed so that insects and wildlife can thrive on the site.
The master plan should be ambitious in terms of how many housing units and square metres of office space can be delivered. However phasing should allow for a portion of the site to be developed relatively quickly.
Grangegorman built a playground on their campus as an early part of the development. This helped to encourage the public to come in to the development and provided footfall and community amenity at an early stage.
This January I will be starting an MSc in Transport and Mobility in TU Dublin.
I’ve been a bit of a transport nerd most of my adult life, from being on the national committee of Rail Users Ireland when I was in Dublin, to being involved with Limerick Cycling, Liveable Limerick, An Taisce, Get Limerick Moving, and the Irish Pedestrian Network once I moved back to Limerick.
After so many false starts, starting with the excitement ahead of Transport 21 in the early ‘00s and continuing through the ‘00s and ‘10s, I think we’re finally at the stage where we’re realising how we can use transport as a tool to transform our economy, our society, and our environment.
Enabling the sustainable mobility of our population will have untold benefits. Our economy will have a great future once we can decouple its growth away from carbon emissions and gridlock. Our society will benefit from becoming more compact and more connected, both with each other and with places of work, education, and entertainment. Providing top quality facilities for people to walk, cycle and take public transport will improve our cities, towns, and villages. Supporting active transport will have a real impact on the health of our population.
Transport currently makes up 20% of Ireland’s emissions. We need a pathway to get this down to zero, and quickly. Electric vehicles are not a panacea and we need to find ways of prioritising walking, cycling, and public transport to grow our economy and increase social mobility without the limiting factors of carbon emissions or traffic jams.
Mobility affects many areas of life. Solving mobility means considering where we build houses, offices, shops, and schools. It means properly considering cells of activity in communities to make sure they are properly served. It means applying inclusive human-centred design principles to make mobility accessible to all. It means efficiently using all the arms of the state to deliver effective solutions.
There may not be a semantic difference between the terms “transport” and “mobility”, but I prefer to think that “transport” involves the outputs of investment: the cycle lane, widened footpath or tram service. I like to think of “mobility” as the outcomes or the “how it works” for people: it’s the safe cycle to school with a friend, a convenient commute to a new job, an easy trip to a hospital appointment, a Saturday adventure with a grandchild. There’s always a temptation to focus on the hard engineering of transport but considering mobility requires you to think of the person making their journey, and trying to make it as attractive and effortless as possible.
It’s going to be a balancing act travelling to Dublin to do this course while maintaining my commitments to work as well as the voluntary commitments I have in Limerick. But I really feel it’s worth it, because with the inevitable national shift away from funding roads to funding public and active transport about to get underway, we need access to the latest research and best practice in Limerick. Many of the mistakes made in the east of the country haven’t yet been made in the mid-west, and I believe we can use a relatively small investment in mobility as a force multiplier for economic growth and social inclusion outside Dublin.
Pedestrians should be top of the transport hierarchy but this can be difficult without a dedicated organisation to advocate for their needs. Neasa Hourigan was so frustrated last year by the inaccessibility of Dublin’s streets for pedestrians, especially walking with her daughter who has a visual impairment, that she set up the Dublin Blockers Twitter account to document some of the barriers Dublin’s pedestrians face in simply trying to get around. She later formed the Irish Pedestrian Network to try and formalise a group to advocate for pedestrians, inspired by the recent success of various cycling advocacy groups.
Neasa came to Limerick in September and there was good attendance for her meeting in Narrative 4. There was a sense that we needed a group in Limerick to be a local presence for the Irish Pedestrian Network, to be a voice for better facilities for pedestrians in Limerick City, and throughout the towns and villages of County Limerick.
A lot of people who attended the meeting in September got involved in the campaign to improve the plans for O’Connell St. The fact that we were unable to persuade councillors and officials to accept that even part of our main street should be reserved for pedestrians makes the establishment of Limerick Pedestrian Network even more urgent. Now that the council has passed plans for O’Connell St, it’s time to formalise a voice for pedestrians.
There will be a meeting on Monday 11th November 2019 in 2 Pery Square at 7pm to try and establish a steering group. The task of the steering group will be to properly establish the Network over the next six months, reaching out to different groups to make it as inclusive as possible, and linking in with groups who are already working in this area. No matter how we travel, almost all of us start and end our journeys as pedestrians. If you’re at all interested in helping to give a voice to footpath users, especially those with mobility needs, I hope you’ll consider coming along.