Deputation Seeks Further Help From Council On Belgooly Traffic Problems
Writes Leo McMahon
Working in co-operation with Cork County Council, traffic challenges in Belgooly can be successfully addressed, a deputation from the local Residents Association Network (BRAN) told members of Kinsale-Bandon Municipal District (MD) at a recent meeting. The deputation comprising Susan O’Connell and Barry Murphy pointed out that Belgooly, near the start of the Wild Atlantic Way, was on a commuter and tourist route (R600) to and from Cork which was busy from 6.30am to 11pm. The village had experienced a changed demographic with significant growth in housing and more school going children.
While the village had an excellent road surface, it was the last straight section before Riverstick, making it difficult for pedestrians to cross the main R600 road, especially near the popular walkway and by the junction near The Huntsman. There was a lack of pedestrian access via a footpath from Cramer’s Close and Riverbank and no footpath on the church side.
Susan O’Connell said her own son was nearly been knocked down by a truck and there had been several other near misses at the existing pedestrian crossing, as previously highlighted at a public meeting. On that basis, there was need to flag the upcoming crossing at the Cork end of the village because motorists didn’t see it in time.
Members and officials were circulated with the report ‘Impact of Using Different Types of Traffic Calming Measures in a Small Rural Village’, which was the subject of a project for the Young Scientist Exhibition by Belgooly resident and Bandon Grammar School pupil Charlie O’Callaghan which was conducted from October to December 2016.
The deputation also noted that the council carried out a speed survey in December and January 2016-2017.
The Council survey, said Barry Murphy, found that 62% of motorists travelled above the 50kph speed limit while the findings of Charlie O’Callaghan detected more traffic violations (161,157) in Belgooly than were reported in Garda statistics for the whole country (141, 844). The deputation pointed out that a petition signed by almost 200 people, a video produced by BRAN and three meetings held about the issue confirmed ongoing concerns in the community. Initiatives proposed by BRAN were: a road safety awareness event, a poster competition in Belgooly Central School, liaison with the Road Safety Authority, fund raising to support road safety hardware and assistance at the pedestrian crossing. Barry Murphy said BRAN was seeking help from the council to:
1) Repeat the speed survey to check the effectiveness of the GATSO system; 2) complete a road safety audit or forward a copy of one if completed; 3) forward a copy of its December-January speed survey; 4) collaborate on community funding initiatives; 5) carry out a safety review of the pedestrian crossing and 6) give feedback on the meeting with the area office with a view to reviewing potential engineering traffic calming solutions.
Overall, the deputation speakers stressed that BRAN was ready to play its part in raising awareness of road safety, part fund measures. The community was a vibrant one, eager and willing to work in co-operation with the Council. Cllr. Kevin Murphy (FG) said a Go Safe van and not GATSO was due to operate in Belgooly from September and this didn’t work, other measures will be considered.
Susan O’Connell said the locally done survey showed a 20% differential to the council one conducted over a quieter period at Christmas so a fresh baseline survey was perhaps required and added that a Go Safe van alone would not resolve footpath, pedestrian access issues. Lack of a footpath on one side of the village was a more immediate concern being on a school route. Parents with infant children couldn’t trust using the hard shoulder and therefore opted to cross the busy road to the footpath on the other side.
Cllr. Aidan Lombard (FG) said Belgooly had more of the feel of a wide tarmac road rather than a village centre. The issues were not easy to solve with speeding in the village leading up to the crossing but measures were needed to help pedestrians. Senior executive engineer Charlie McCarthy said a more urban streetscape from the crossing through the village was desirable but there were issues such as the parking demand near the church. The council would look at doing traffic calming and pedestrian friendly works on a phased basis. Regular speed checks had a dramatic effect in Murragh near Bandon when introduced and once bedded in at Belgooly, perhaps another speed survey could be carried out to see the effect.
Area engineer Brendan Fehily said the survey conducted by the council was a proper baseline one professionally carried out and its findings were in a public document. Over 10,000 vehicles per day and close to 12,000 in summer months used the regional trunk road. There was need to strike a balance in measures taken and warned against anything that could result in people going up side lesser roads instead where people walk