The staff and children at the Peter Pan preschool in Delvin have been highlighting to the county council the need for measures to slow down traffic on the N51 and provide a safe crossing to their premises.
Rita McGrath, owner and manager, expressed disappointment that the issue was not debated at a council meeting in February, even though Cllr Una D’Arcy had brought it up.
“Last week we started a petition and we have made posters to highlight our needs, rights and named the local councils in our area who have a moral and legal responsibility to listen to the voices of the people who elected them to their office,” said Ms McGrath.
Cllr Una D’Arcy added: “The N51 carries 4,500 cars a day past this small business. That is measured at Athboy by the NRA,” said Cllr D’Arcy.
“As you approach Delvin there is footpath on the left hand side and not on the right. And it’s the first stretch of straight road, so frustrated drivers are inclined to accelerate and pass at this point.
“I raised the issue as a motion, hoping that other councillors would see the need to engineer a safe crossing point. Children cannot judge distance or speed, so if we would like to encourage children to be fit and active and independent they require safe crossing places and footpaths.
“Delvin is a busy village and growing. Delvin GAA have ambitious development plans and the nearby schools are growing in numbers. There are lots of small independent retailers and the council should be investing in the pedestrian safety of the whole village.”
Hundreds of people have already signed the petition and it is available in all the local businesses.
“Rural communities are being told that the council will be investing in the repair of their existing stock of footpaths but there will always also be a need for new footpaths; and there must be a strategy to meet rural needs, especially when the country is benefiting from a road infrastructure that is sending 4,500 vehicles along it... and the N52, by the way, is carrying more than 5000 vehicles through Delvin.
“So I hope everyone signs the petition and makes this an issue on the doors when canvassers call. Delvin deserves better than silent council meetings when road safety is raised,” Cllr D’Arcy.
A longer version of the following story was published in the Westmeath Examiner of February 23 last.
Cllr Una D’Arcy had a motion on the agenda proposing that the MMD (Mullingar Municipal District) review the N51 outside Delvin, close to the location of Peter Pan Montessori Preschool, and that it consider measures to slow traffic and create a safe crossing point for pedestrians. Alternatively, the motion continued, the MMD could create a footpath to replace the grass verge. The formal written response to Cllr D’Arcy’s motion stated that the preschool is within a 50kmh Speed Limit Zone, and that enforcement of the limit is a matter for An Garda Síochána.
“The existing footpath on this road, albeit on the opposite side of the road to the preschool, sufficiently caters for pedestrian requirements in this area,” the reply continued, adding that on top of this, the MMD’s Transportation Department considers that the location would not qualify for a pedestrian crossing. Cllr D’Arcy clarified that she was looking for an “engineered measure”, something to change driver behaviour. “It’s become a place where people are constantly overtaking,” she said, pointing out that there is a long straight stretch of road there.