This is the Limerick Cycling Campaigns observations in the area of schools and Education on the Second draft of LSMATS. LSMATS is open for observations until Friday 10th of June 2022
We warmly welcome the inclusion of a section focusing on school trips as a priority for the Limerick metro area. Schools in Limerick are the key driver of congestion and unnecessary trips that hold us back from achieving our climate responsibilities and transport targets. Measures LU11 to LU14 while very welcome have some omissions whose inclusion would strengthen the current draft.
Design of New Schools
The local authorities will ensure that the detailed design of new schools will be undertaken in a manner which maximises the priority for pedestrians and cyclists in terms of access arrangements, and the location and quantum of car and bicycle parking.
Over the term of the previous government, Limerick City saw significant investment in school building projects, both in terms of refurbishments and new builds. As it stands the term of LSMATS running to 2040 will see minimal new school building projects. As a measure, this will have very limited impact. There is also the other issue that standards for new school buildings should really be developed at a national level by the NTA in consultation with the Dept of Education Planning and Building Unit and with input from An Taisce’s Green Schools. Without that important step being undertaken, measure LU11 will have very limited impact as it would fall to each local authority to implement their own interpretation of the measure rather than being directed properly by the Department of Education building guidelines. Despite it falling outside the scope of LSMATS we would like to note that we feel this co-operation between the NTA, DoES and Green Schools would be essential in ensuring all future school building projects are active travel-focused.
With a lack of new schools on the horizon in the Limerick Metro Area it is clear that we need to address the other side of the coin to Measure LU11 and look at how we both increase active modes and drastically reduce and inconvenience car journeys to school.
We would request that Measure LU11 is amended as follows to ensure it covers both new and current schools:
Measure LU11 (revised)
Design and use of Schools
- The local authorities will ensure that the detailed design of new schools and schools currently under planning permission will be undertaken in a manner which maximises the priority for pedestrians and cyclists in terms of access arrangements, and the location and quantum of car and bicycle parking.
- The local authority will ensure that all existing schools will be reviewed to ensure that traffic plans and road layouts on streets surrounding schools are adapted to remove car traffic at drop off and collection times with clear plans and KPIs for both increases in active modes and reduction/removal of motor traffic on a per school basis. The local authority will also redesignate any currently existing drive-thru lanes as active travel routes, removing car traffic access from public streets to internal school roads to improve safety outcomes for children.
Green Schools Travel
The NTA will continue to expand the Green Schools Travel Module in conjunction with An Taisce in order to promote alternatives to the private car for school travel across the LSMA through their broad range of behavioural change initiatives, such as walking buses, walkability audits, park and stride, cycle training, cycling days and other activities.
While we broadly support this measure we would point to the glacially slow pace of rollout of infrastructure changes surrounding schools to date. With the high level of funding available and the infrastructure funding strand of Green Schools falling directly under the NTA’s purview we would ask that there is a commitment added to this measure by the NTA to fasttrack funding and support for the Limerick Active Travel Office to deliver as quickly as possible.
We would also request that this measure replace “in order to promote alternatives to the private car” with “to identify and implement measures to reduce car access to the school gate and through school grounds.”
Other Behavioural Change Initiatives
The NTA and the local authorities will support organisations seeking to implement other
behavioural change initiatives in the LSMA, such as the Limerick Cycle Bus, and take their
feedback into account in decisions around infrastructural investment.
This is a welcome addition with the scope for some excellent co-operation between active travel advocacy groups such as Limerick Cycle Bus, Limerick Cycling Campaign, Limerick Pedestrian Network, the NTA and the Limerick Active Travel Office. We would ask that the measure is appended to include: “on both a set annual review and ongoing consultation as projects arise.” Consultation with Cycle Buses could be formalised with children feeding into Active Travel plans via meetings and school route cycles with members of the Active Travel Team.
NTA Safe to School Programme
Under our national Safe to School programme, the NTA and the local authorities will prepare a programme of works aimed specifically at providing
safe walking and cycling environments to schools in the LSMA, including:
- School Streets;
- School Zones;
- Reduced Speed limits;
- Park and Stride; and
- Additional cycle and scooter parking.
While all these are very welcome we feel that these must be frontloaded into the plan. As can be seen every day the most dangerous places our children can walk or cycle are the areas directly outside their schools. The use of Section 38s should be encouraged as the standard to reallocate road space away from cars in these areas.
We would ask that an additional bullet point is added to Measure LU14:
- The reduction and removal of cars from all Limerick Metro Area schools with reserved car access for children with mobility needs.
While the measures included in the new draft of LSMATS are very welcome and bring us far closer to where we need to be in terms of addressing the negative impacts of cars at schools the lack of targets or KPIs for this sector is worrying. Limerick car congestion is a very simple beast – as soon as schools close everything flows incredibly quickly.
Our traffic problems in Limerick are school traffic problems.
As Limerick is such a compact city nearly the entirety of the primary school population lives within a kilometre or so of their school. That we still have such a huge section of children in this age group driven to school is appalling and the very definition of an unnecessary journey. The removal of cars from the immediate school area and surrounding streets needs to be identified as a key target both to reduce unnecessary car trips and also to make safe the most dangerous places our children walk and cycle – outside their school gates. The reduction and removal of cars simply isn’t strongly articulated enough in this section and needs to be significantly strengthened.
We would like to see the following targets added to support the measures in this section:
- The delivery of all primary cycle network routes in the first 18 months following final publication of LSMATS.
- The delivery of all secondary cycle network routes and completion of all junction and roundabout works in the first 3 years following final publication of LSMATS.
- Annual surveys of all schools in the Limerick Metro Area examining changes in modal share, including the installation of air quality monitors near schools and sports grounds, and reductions in car traffic as key metrics.
The Limerick Cycling Campaign has collated its observations on the second draft of LSMATS under the following headings
The second and final draft of LSMATS is open for public consultation until Friday 10th of June 2022
- LSMATS needs stepped targets and an effective monitoring regime
- LSMATS needs to do more to meet climate goals
- LSMATS Transport and Public Health
- LSMATS Education and Schools
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