People power wins on road safety

Well done to every one of the 5,000 or so who signed the petition demanding a change to the layout of one of the county’s most dangerous junctions - leading off the Killarney Bypass on to Lewis Road. The public pressure to get something done about it looks like it has finally paid off, and there’s finally some kind of move underway to improve safety at the site.

It’s about time. How long has the bypass been open? Long enough for anyone who’s ever driven it to know that the junction at Lewis Road is potentially lethal at all hours of the day. Unfortunately, there has been a number of accidents at the site, all of which have seriously impacted on the community.

A couple of months ago, Killarney mayor Niall Kelleher opened the petition and by last week, thousands had added their names to it, demanding improvements at the accident blackspot.

The petition was presented to Shane Ross and Transport Infrastructure Ireland, and now there’s funding to help fix the problem.

That’s great news, of course - or at least it will be if the problem is ever actually fixed. The last thing we need for the Lewis Road junction is a report telling us what everyone already knows. What’s needed is a new layout that will keep safe the thousands of drivers and cyclists who pass the area every day.

Hopefully that will be the final outcome - and sooner rather than later. But why did it take so long? Why does it always seem to take years of campaigning and years of avoidable incidents - even deaths - before whoever is in charge of these things finally agrees to do something about it?

Safe roads are not just a priority - they’re a right. We should all have the right to drive or cycle our roads, or walk on our roadsides, in the knowledge that they’re designed specifically to keep us safe as much as they are to shift vehicles from point A to B.

Safety is in everyone’s minds this week, after the tragedy in Glenflesk and the horrific road crash that saw four killed in Wexford. Eight people have lost their lives on Kerry roads so far this year - up from seven in 2016 - and more than 140 nationally.

Every single tragedy is different of course, but it should be incumbent on the authorities to minimise as far as possible the role that roads and junctions have to play.

That it should have to come to a community raising a petition to ensure their own safety really isn’t good enough.