Is it foot-heavy drivers, or foolhardy pedestrians, who are the cause of near misses on pedestrian crossings?
That was the question at today’s (Wednesday, December 13) meeting of the Portlaoise Municipal District in Laois County Hall.
Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald asked the council, in the interest of safety, to install better warning signs at pedestrian crossings.
She mentioned the crossing at the bottom of the town, near Peppers Lane, where people walk straight out onto the road even when it’s dark.
She spoke of the crossing at the church, where she had witnessed a woman standing waiting to cross while four cars just drove on through without stopping.
At another crossing, near Shaws, she said a man she knew got quite a fright when a woman just walked out onto the road, and she also namechecked the crossing at Colliers Lane.
“It’s really dangerous, it’s an accident waiting to happen and the motorist will be at fault, the pedestrians aren’t stopping,” she said, asking the council to at least put up better signs at roundabouts.
Seconding the motion, Cllr Willie Aird said he had received two complaints about crossings on the Dublin Road, which are too dark at night.
“Pedestrians feel they have the right of the road,” he said, calling on the council to prioritise the issue as he echoed Cllr Fitzgerald’s words that it was “an accident waiting to happen”.
He also said that motorists unfamiliar with the town would not know where the crossings are.
Director of services, Mr Kieran Kehoe said that all local pedestrian crossings are in compliance with national guidelines and said the issue was “poor driver behaviour”.
He said that the crossings have flashing amber lights on them, which are clearly flashing at approaching motorists.
“Cars are driving through them and that’s driver behaviour,” said Mr Kehoe.
However, Cllr Noel Tuohy said the onus should be on the pedestrian, as the pedestrian is the one who’s going to be hurt if there is a collision.
“We have to reduce the chances of that,” he said.
In response to Cllr Fitzgerald’s motion, a written reply was furnished by Mr Farhan Nasiem, acting senior executive engineer. He said the road design department will review pedestrian crossings in Portlaoise town and install additional signage as required.