THE more a Portlaoise councillor drives or walks around the town, the more she thinks “a serious accident is waiting to happen”.
In an effort to prevent such an incident, cllr Catherine Fitzgerald called on the council to install better warning signs at pedestrian crossings in and around the town.
Replying to her request at the December meeting of Portlaoise Municipal District, acting senior executive engineer Farhan Nasiem said: “Road design will review pedestrian crossing in Portlaoise town and install additional signs as required.”
Pressing her case, cllr Fitzgerald said: “The more I drive or walk around the town, the more I feel that there’s a serious accident waiting to happen. Peppers Court crossing is one such bad crossing, and at the pedestrian crossing along the Dublin Road (Killeshin Hotel). A lady was waiting at it to cross and four cars just drove on without allowing her to cross. Years ago, people knew the rules of the road and how to cross at pedestrian crossings. People are now just walking across the pedestrian crossings without stopping to look up to see if cars are coming.
“The Killeshin Hotel crossing is really dangerous and there’s an accident waiting to happen there. I feel people need to be re-educated on how to cross at pedestrian crossings. We also need more signs to warn motorists that there are pedestrian crossing ahead.”
“There’s not one pedestrian crossing in Portlaoise lit up,” said cllr Willie Aird.
“I was always thought that when you come to a pedestrian crossing that you stop, put your foot out and wait for the cars to stop before you cross. Now people are just walking across without waiting to see if the traffic will stop for them. If you talk to anyone nowadays they’ll tell you that they have the right to walk across the pedestrian crossing without stopping to see if cars are coming. I’ve seen some very close calls at pedestrian crossings. People coming into the town don’t know where the pedestrian crossings are, especially at night.”
Director of services Kieran Kehoe said that all the pedestrian crossing in the town adhere strictly to national guidelines and that the problem at pedestrian crossings “is driver behaviour”.
He said the council would have no difficulty in assessing the issues raised by councillors and “will develop a programme over the next few years” to address the issues if necessary.
Mr Kehoe said that he was “not aware of any accidents, but I have witnessed near-accidents. That was because of driver behaviour”.
Cllr Noel Tuohy said: “There’s an accident waiting to happen at the crossing along James Fintan Lalor Avenue. Pedestrians are going to be hurt there, not the motorists.”