Speed Camera Van for Belgooly Writes Leo McMahon
Speedsters beware! Belgooly and Riverstick are about to become Garda Siochana ‘Go Safe’ camera van locations in a bid to improve safety for pedestrians and road users. Members were informed of this at the monthly meeting of Cork County Council’s Bandon-Kinsale Municipal District (MD) in response to a motion arising from a recent public meeting about this and other issues of concern and it was agreed to receive a deputation from Belgooly Concerned Residents at the next MD meeting. Cllr James O’Donovan (FG) said members had very recently been informed that there will be a speed camera. Strangers to villages such as Belgooly and Ballinhassig were inclined to zip through these but in his opinion and from seeing what happened at Murragh near Enniskeane on the main road to Bantry, Garda speed patrols over a number of months was the most effective means of curbing speeding. Senior executive engineer Brendan Fehily pointed out that the MD had initiated this and predicted speed camera signs at each end of Belgooly would be effective. It was what ‘Go Safe’ was all about in areas with a speeding problem. Cathaoirleach Kevin Murphy (FG) and Alan Coleman (Ind) concurred. Senior executive engineer Charlie McCarthy said he and other council officials recently visited the location. Traffic calming from the Riverstick side of Belgooly was quite good and the non push-button crossing was being used properly but there was speeding up through the village going in the opposite direction. Statistics indicated there were more accidents with incorrect use of push button crossings along busy routes. Cllr Coleman concurred and voiced concern about any move to install the latter type. There was a lot of tarmac in the centre of Belgooly and with this section eventually needing resurfacing there would be opportunities for a package of further traffic calming and pedestrian facilities but he recommended first seeing the effects of the speed camera before anything more was done on traffic calming there. There was a conflict in the middle between parking for the church and more conventional village type footpaths and bulb-outs making the main road through it narrower, said Cllr Coleman. Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) wondered if it was a chicken and egg situation vis-a-vis the camera and the request for traffic calming. Mr. McCarthy replied that the council had to see if the speed camera had the desired effect, adding that to urbanise the village centre with traffic calming would require significant funding. However, he said he would be shocked if the camera van didn’t have a dramatic effect on speeding. Mr. Fehily said the council had done and spent a lot in recent years on traffic calming. There was also a footpath to the school resulting in more children walking. He would like to see paths on both sides and there was a huge issue regarding sufficient parking by the church. A ‘Go Safe’ van he felt should be tried first before spending over €15,000 on bollards and other measures which could also be restrictive and get damaged. He agreed with his colleague that it was possible the southern half of Belgooly would need a new road surface overlay and that would be the time to introduce more traffic calming measures in correspondence with local community groups. Both engineers stressed that Belgooly is along a significant inter-urban traffic route (R600) and in trying to manage volumes of traffic, (over 10,000 vehicles per day), safely it was important and not desirable to end up with drivers opting to drive along lesser and sometimes overgrown side roads used by walkers in order to avoid it. Senior executive officer MacDara O Hici said experienced road traffic engineers had examined the scene in response to an issue raised by the community. Works had already been carried out and there were further proposals which could be tried and assessed. There was no instant nor magic solution and there was now an opportunity to hear a deputation. Cllr Murphy asked that flashing lights in advance of the crossing be considered as done for schools but was told these are not standard for pedestrian crossings. The motion from all six MD members also sought a written response from the council as to why no further works will be done to the pedestrian crossing and for the possibility of putting a footpath from Riverbank estate to the village to be investigated. In reply to Cllr McCarthy, Mr. Fehily said black and white banding wasn’t required at a crossing and this had already been pointed out. The council was aware of a prospective housing scheme and if granted planning permission, the developer would be required to put in the pavement as far as the GAA club. Cllr Murphy concurred and urged the MD itself to press for a footpath on the church side of the village but Cllr Coleman said there would have to be alternative parking provided in conjunction with this. Three public lights had been put in as far as the pitch, a footpath extended to the school from the bridge on the Riverstick side and a crossing installed, so the council had taken action, said the engineer adding that as a resident of Belgooly with four children, he only wanted to see the village improve. After further debate, it was agreed to hear the deputation at its next meeting and consider all issues raised. * Chief Superintendent (West Cork) Con Cadogan confirmed to The Carrigdhoun that once all warning signs are in place at Belgooly, the ‘Go Safe’ speed camera van will be operating on the direction of an Garda Siochana on a shared basis in Belgooly and Riverstick. There will also be speed patrols and checkpoints by the Garda Traffic Corps. ‘Go Safe’ vans are privately run but operate on the direction of an Garda Siochana at accident prone locations.