Pressure mounts for a crackdown on speeders

Pressure mounts for a crackdown on speeders

12 July 2017

FRESH concerns have been voiced about the speed of vehicles using the Strangford Road in Downpatrick.

Residents and those who walk along the busy road are becoming increasingly apprehensive and have asked local politicians to raise the issue with Transport NI.

Last February, former Department of Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard ordered officials to carry out at a survey at the Strangford Road which he said had “become notorious for high speed and unfortunately too many collisions.” 

The former minister explained the survey would not only assess current traffic patterns, but examine what additional engineering and enforcement solutions could be deployed to improve road safety.

South Down MLA Colin McGrath — who recently met with concerned residents and Transport NI officials –  said parts of the footpath which run along the Strangford Road are narrow in places which poses problems for those pushing prams. 

He said overhanging hedges are an added problem and it is not uncommon for people to have to step on to the road to allow mums with prams to pass.

“People are afraid that as a result of the paths being so narrow, they could be struck by the wing mirror of a passing vehicle. In addition, people who live opposite Downpatrick Cricket Club are always nervous they could be struck by an overtaking car as they turn into their driveways,” said the MLA.

“It is my understanding there have been a number of accidents at this part of the town with one vehicle ending up on its roof. Speed is an issue and I have asked roads officials to extend the 30mph zone further back towards the former Down Council offices.”

Mr McGrath said there is an increase in “near misses” and recorded accidents at the Strangford Road due to speeding traffic. He explained while the figures haven’t increased enough to warrant safety measures at present “it is only a matter of time before this threshold is exceeded.”

He added: “During the recent site meeting with residents and roads officials it was confirmed the budget to carry out safety improvements has been ‘depleted’ which is a concern.”

Councillor John Trainor, who joined Mr McGrath for the recent meeting with residents, shares their concern and agrees the speeding issue needs to be addressed.

“People who walk along the Strangford Road and indeed residents who live at this part of the town need to be able to go about their daily lives in safety. This is one of the busiest roads in Downpatrick which not only carries a high volume of traffic, but is very popular with walkers and residents.”

He added: “It is sad that we have to put a price on local people’s heads when distributing funds for road safety work. The Strangford Road has seen an expansion of houses and an increase in road traffic and I worry that the perfect storm is being created which could potentially result in someone losing their life.”