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Your letters, your view
Another serious, but avoidable, car accident occurred last Friday, June 3, at the infamous diagonal yellow box by Dennehy’s Cross church, on Wilton Road. The road had to be closed off as a result, causing, yet again, inconvenience to all road-users, not to mention the trauma, injury, and insurance costs for the unfortunates involved.
Numerous accidents, many serious, have occurred at this perilous concoction, which was designed by Cork City Council engineers several years ago.
This system is confusing and dangerous, and continues to cause accidents and near-misses to this day.
The dysfunctional yellow box is an integral part of the equally perilous and dysfunctional bus lane on Wilton Road, imposed by the NTA and Cork City Council against the wishes of the Wilton community.
Garda statistics show that 100 or more gardaí have attended accidents, directly associated with the bus lane, since its imposition in 2003. Many of these accidents have occurred where the bus lane meets the notoriously dangerous junction at Wilton Gardens, described by Chief Superintendent Michael Finn as “clearly unsafe” in a letter in January, 2013.
Residents and road-users have also been highlighting the dangers of the bus lane and the junction, for several years now, but, despite the statistics and the regular accidents, the council have ignored the warnings and have refused to take corrective action.
The bus lane was shoehorned onto an unsuitably narrow, 9.3-metre roadway, without the required impact survey, resulting in many problems for residents, not least that cyclists are forced onto the footpaths. This is dangerous for pedestrians. Because of the narrow lanes and narrow footpaths, entering and exiting homes is hazardous.
Freedom of Information documents show that Cork City Council senior management gave several solemn commitments to the Department of Transport, in 2002, that the implementation of the bus lanes would include “dedicated cycle tracts and improved footpath spaces for the safety of pedestrians”. The documents show that these commitments, given when seeking funding of a staggering, but unexplained, €172m, for nine bus lanes, were ignored on Wilton Road, on implementation. In fact, an existing cycle lane was removed to funnel-in the bus lane.
Rampant speeding is another legacy of the bus lane. Speed surveys carried out on Wilton Road, in 2011 and 2014, by Cork City Council, at the behest of the Wilton Residents’ Association, show it to be one of the most dangerous roads in the city. Annually, more than 8m vehicles traverse the roadway and 20%, or in excess of 30,000 per week, or a staggering 1,500,000 per year, break the 50kph speed limit. Speeds in excess of 70 to 100kph were regularly recorded, with three vehicles exceeding 135kph on November 2, 2014, alone!
As a result of the volumes and excessive speeding, noise recorded by the council in 2008 show that levels exceeded 75dB, which is considered extremely hazardous by health professionals. Also, pollution levels of particulate matter, due to high-traffic volumes, especially of diesel vehicles, are considered highly toxic by the World Health Organisation, particularly for the young and the elderly.
Yet, for some inexplicable reason, council officials, despite the stark results of their own speed surveys, as well as the evidence of senior gardaí and local residents, defy reason and continue to ignore and misinterpret the basic data, by using inappropriately crude averages, which deny and downplay the scale and the extent of the problems.
The refusal to acknowledge the issues, and to take action, results in massive waste of public monies, due to the unnecessary and continual deployment of the gardaí, and the emergency services, in dealing with accidents. Equally, it exposes all residents and road-users to trauma, injury, and health issues, as well as substantial insurance and ancillary costs, on a daily basis.
The recent report in The Irish Examiner regarding the upcoming sale of part of the lands held by the Dominicans, at Ennismore Retreat House, will be met with sadness by many who have visited these grounds on retreat, as well as by the local residents, who know it as The Mile Walk.
What is not clear, from the report, is what the future holds for this pilgrim path, or, indeed, for the mature woodland that surrounds its boundary walls.
Perhaps your paper would extract some answers.
It is an encouraging relief to see that sanity and common sense have prevailed and that the Christy Ring Cup final will be replayed.
However, this is in contrast to the horrible disgrace of not having replayed the Meath versus Louth football match of some years ago, when a Meath player blatantly threw the ball into the opponent’s net and the ‘goal’ was allowed to stand.
With the major increase in cases of domestic and physical violence, spousal battery, child sexual abuse, rape, anti-social behavior, etc., there is need, in my opinion, for the Minister for Justice to appoint a social worker in each garda district, to work in conjunction with the force in on-the-spot psychiatric cases, and to assist the courts in dealing with such cases. While the gardaí have to deal with these problems, and have done so to the best of their abilities, I feel that the recruitment of a social worker would be very beneficial, not alone to the community and gardaí, but most especially to the victims and their families. I know the HSE have social workers who can help, but there is usually a time lapse before this involvement. What I am calling for is a social worker who will be on the scene with a garda to assess the situation from the sociologist’s point of view. The garda should not be expected to deliberate on family disputes. Counselling should be organised on a local, on-the-spot basis and should be readily available.
In a related issue, I welcome the family judges sitting in special family courts, who have a certain consistency of approach, based on a developed philosophy. These would mediate and reduce the areas of conflict. I compliment the State for this sensitive court environment in which to deal with these matters. Therefore, I feel, there is no excuse for not recruiting social workers and deploying them in each garda district. It should be established as a priority need. Over to the Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, TD, to deliver accordingly to each garda district, and my thanks in advance.
Citizens are being left bereft by private, vested interests.
The public treasury was opened and used to secure error-laden private banks and developer-builders as special needs, and, as a result, public health-provision, educational provision, state infrastructure, among others, all have suffered consequent funding deficits. These also suffered, because of governmental conduct relating to the subsequent economic crash.
In the boom, the talk was of ‘transport hubs’ and ‘spatial strategy’, when there was urgent need to address the leaking, national drinking-water supply infrastructure and sewage provision.
Development of rail infrastructure was a good idea and it could have helped many commuters, not the least in suburbs around Dublin and regional cities and Dublin Airport, yet motorways dominated the boom-time infrastructure agenda.
Our archaeological repository seemed of low consideration. We had needed great consideration of possible effects on food-lands and local communities and upon geological sub-strata.
Now, we have to speak of an emptying-out from rural space of population and of declining commerce, which is hardly the desired spatial strategy outcome, no more than of gangs of thieves on rural theft sprees.
By April, 2016, 449 developer-builders had exited the Nama process, of which 44 had paid back loans to par, in full, as agreed. The same outcomes aren’t indicated toward in-debt personal mortgages.
We now learn that, allegedly, some developer-builders may be acquiring and holding land, expecting values to rise, at the same time as rack-landlords raise rents, contributing to a situation of growing homelessness. This, even as vulture-funds get involved in renting-highs and of buying distressed debt bundles, including private homes and small businesses, from private baled-out banks.
Private, vested interests seem perennially to trump our pubic good and apparently have access to our treasury. Government bounds to their side, whilst being dilatory about homelessness.
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