DRAFT bylaws have been prepared to cut the speed limit in the heart of Cork city centre to just 30 kilometres an hour.
But city officials hope to avoid the controversy sparked by a similar move in Dublin by conducting a very focused round of public consultations.
They said there will be direct contact with groups like the Cork Business Association and Cork Chamber before the laws are adopted.
Officials say the reduced limits will allow the city derive the maximum benefit from the huge investment in public infrastructure in the city centre in recent years.
“Experience in the UK and mainland Europe has shown that this measure will add to the attractiveness of the city centre for visitors and shoppers,” they said.
“The city centre speed zone will be signposted and combined with the newly improved public realm, the new speed limit will be mainly self-enforcing, particularly at busy shopping periods.
“The 30km/h speed limit will ensure that traffic speeds will be kept low even during off-peak periods so that high levels of pedestrian and cycling safety and comfort are maintained.”
There are also proposals to adjust the speed limit on the South Ring Road following the construction of the Kinsale Road interchange, and to adjust the speed limits on the three major approach roads to the city – the Lower Glanmire Road (N8), the Commons Road (N20), and the South City Link (N27) – to “reflect the quality and capacity” of the roadways.
It is understood the speed limits will be staggered to allow motorists drive faster in certain areas.
The plan to reduce the city centre speed limit has been in the pipeline for years. But councillors were told, this week, that public consultation can finally begin after the Department of Transport released funding for new road signs.
The draft bylaws have already been agreed by the gardaí and the National Roads Authority.
The round of public consultation will be advertised in the coming weeks, and once the feedback is received, a report will be prepared for council before the limits are introduced.
Meanwhile, six city schools have also been selected to pilot a reduced speed limit zone project.
The limit will be reduced from 50km/h to 30km/h within a 500-metre radius of each school. It will be in force Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm, including school holiday periods.
The overall aim of the project is to encourage school children to walk or cycle to school.
If the pilot is successful, the scheme will be rolled out to all city schools, subject to funding.
Cllr John Buttimer (FG) welcomed the speed limit initiatives but said he has concerns about the school speed limit remaining in place during school holidays.
“These initiatives will only work if they meet the needs of all stakeholders,” he said.
“We need wide engagement and focused consultation with the public so that we can get the right feedback from specific groups who may be affected by these proposals.”
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