The speed of traffic going through a West Cork village, despite a pedestrian crossing, is frightening local parents, reports Brian Moore
BELGOOLY residents are calling on Cork County Council to take action immediately before there is a fatal traffic accident in the busy village.
Mother-of-three Susan O’Connell recalled the moment when she thought her son was about to be run over by a truck as they crossed the road at a pedestrian crossing in the village.
‘On Monday, March 13th I was walking to the school with my three children – my youngest (2) was in a buggy and my other two children (7 and 5) were walking with me. We had a very upsetting experience and saw first-hand just how dangerous this road is currently,’ Susan said. ‘From where we live, we have to cross the main road, to get to the footpath. It was approximately 9am, and it was busy on the main road, with traffic coming in both directions. We initially found it difficult with all the traffic, some going at a considerable speed, to get from our side of the road to the footpath. A few minutes later, we were crossing back to the side of the road where the remaining footpath to the school is, and stopped and waited at the zebra crossing. Traffic to my right stopped to let us cross, and it appeared safe for us to go,’ she explained.
Susan could see that there was traffic coming in the other direction and, assuming that they were perfectly safe and could be seen, she began to cross on the pedestrian crossing.
‘My seven-year-old son and five-year-old daughter were a couple of feet in front of me and I was pushing the buggy,’ Susan said.
‘As we made our way across, a truck driving at what I can only guess was above the speed limit for the village, didn’t stop at the pedestrian crossing, nor did it appear to slow down. It missed my son by about 1ft. I screamed, and it was at this point that the truck driver either heard me, or realised that he had driven through the pedestrian crossing.’
The truck came to a halt further on, but the driver did not get out.
‘He didn’t get out, and I didn’t get his registration number as I was concerned for my son and in a bit of shock. I raised my concern with the Council and the gardaí,’ said Susan. ‘I also mentioned it to my children’s teachers to raise awareness that the children can’t always rely on the vehicles stopping, even at the pedestrian crossing.
Susan said her neighbours, and other parents at the school, have since remarked how dangerous the road is, and even the zebra crossing is unsafe.
‘Numerous people have told me of incidents where vehicles haven’t stopped to let people cross, and of speeding vehicles through the village. These are often the large, commercial vehicles,’ she told The Southern Star.
‘It was a dreadful fright to get, but at least we were lucky only to be shaken by the incident, and nobody was injured or worse on this occasion.’
Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) was shocked to hear of the near-fatal traffic incident in Belgooly, but it is an issue that has been coming up regularly at meetings of Cork County Council and local district authorities.
‘There is no excuse for dangerous driving, especially in a busy village and at a pedestrian crossing by a school,’ Cllr Murphy said.
‘The Council has conducted a traffic speed survey, the results of which have been handed over to the gardaí, who we feel should do more to in this area. We are looking at traffic claiming measures, and we will do everything possible to slow the traffic down, but people must understand and slow down when travelling through the village,’ he added. Inspector Ger Lacey of the Bandon Traffic Division said the gardaí were working to solve the issue in Belgooly. Insp Lacey told The Southern Star: ‘We have been monitoring the situation in the village with unmarked cars, and speed monitoring vans have been deployed.
‘However,’ he added, ‘it is our opinion that the main problem is that motorists are failing to stop at the pedestrian crossing. While the crossing is well signposted and well lit, we are looking into ways of making the crossing even safer with more signs.
‘Motorists have to keep their speed within the limits while passing through Belgooly or indeed any built-up areas, especially with a school located in the village. It is inexcusable not to stop at a pedestrian crossing when somebody is crossing the road.’