Ireland- The Irish government have called time on reckless pedestrians. Following the recent spate of Dublin shoppers bumping into one another, Transport Minister, Martin Cullen, has announced that new speed limits -some as low as 5kph (3mph) will be imposed on pedestrians walking down busy city centre streets such as Grafton St and Henry St.
In a statement, Minister Cullen insisted, "Something had to be done. We had reports of over 10,000 city centre shoppers colliding with each other during the Christmas rush, resulting in many cases to them having their shopping bags knocked out of their hands. Some even reported gift breakage. It's truly horrifying the reckless speeds at which many pedestrians believe they can walk and then have the nerve to think they can get away with it".
Explaining how the new measures will work, he said, "It's really quite simple. We plan to deploy a number of plain clothes gardai with "special pedestrian speed guns" on every street in Dublin that has at least 6 shops on it including a Spar, Centra or convenience outlet of this nature. We will then be attaching special electronic tags to every single resident of Dublin. Should they exceed the given speed limit, a medium-strength electronic shock is promptly administered, incapacitating the felon momentarily, to allow gardai seize and question him".
"It's truly horrifying the reckless speeds at which many pedestrians believe they can walk and then have the nerve to think they can get away with it"
Each street will have its own speed limit ranging from 5kph (Grafton St.) to 15kph (D'olier Street). Theoretically, one is free to sprint across D'olier Street if one was so inclined. I myself have done so only once.
Supporters of the plan point to the "Swedish model" of pedestrian speed prevention. Since its inception in 2001, Stockholm has seen a 40% decrease in pedestrian collisions. Not only that but people appear to be much more self-content, reflected in 80% reduction in stress related suicides.
"opposition parties voicing grave concerns over the plan's practicality".
The German government has won similar acclaim for their "Volks-Uber-Bahns" or "Super-Walkways for People", enabling citizens in a hurry to walk in excess of 13kph down busy streets. This means the regular pavements are left only to those who favour a more leisurely, altogether less dangerous pace. It seems Ireland has a long way to go before they catch up, at least infrastructurally.
The proposal has stirred controversy in the Dail however, with opposition parties voicing grave concerns over the plan's practicality. Labour leader Pat Rabbitte said, "C'mon- Christmas is over now. It's bloomin' obvious the streets won't be half as busy. Do we really need this approaching spring? I'm afraid it's just another example of gross government misspending".
Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny said, "Again our gaga government seems plagued by myopia. I ask how can these new measures be properly and efficiently enforced? What about sections of the rural community coming to Dublin for a day's Christmas shopping on December 8th? They won't have their "special tags". Are they free to sprint around Dublin like raving lunatics? I don't see why not. Unless the government looks into ways of policing all of our citizens and not just the Dubs, it's totally and absolutely unworkable".
In addition to the measures, the National Street Safety Council have launched a series of vivid ad campaigns hoping to deter pedestrian speeding. One such ad shows a man walking home happily with a bouquet of flowers for his pregnant wife, when out of nowhere, a teenager walking extremely quickly bumps into him knocking the flowers to the ground at which point another speeding walker tramples on them leaving them in tatters. The end of the ad shows the man tearfully handing the shredded bouquet to his bemused wife behind the slogan, "could you live with the shame?" It's powerful stuff.
The new speed limits will come into effect on April 1st.