The chief executive of the Roads Service (Dr Malcolm McKibbin) has been asked to write to the noble Lord in response to this question.
Letter from Dr Malcolm McKibbin to Lord Laird dated November 2006.
You recently asked Her Majesty's Government a Parliamentary Question about whether an assessment had been made of the need for traffic-calming measures for the Ballyhackamore area of east Belfast. As this issue falls within my responsibility as Roads Service chief executive, I have been asked to reply.
First, I should explain that the Roads Service is committed to play its part in achieving the targets set by the Northern Ireland Road Safety Strategy through the implementation of road safety engineering measures, and in this context we give a high priority to the introduction of traffic-calming schemes in residential areas.
However, the Roads Service receives many requests for traffic-calming measures and, although the funding allocated to this type of work has significantly increased in recent years, demand still outstrips our capacity to meet all such requests, and priorities have to be established. The prioritisation of work within any particular area is never easy; however, I can assure you that the Roads Service does attempt to prioritise all schemes in a fair and equitable manner concentrating the available finance in those areas where the need is greatest.
In helping to prioritise areas for the provision of traffic-calming measures, Roads Service officials take account of a number of factors including: collision history, volume and speed of vehicles, and environmental factors such as the presence of schools, playgrounds, shops et cetera. Of these factors, the highest priority is given to safety, resulting in those sites with an accident history being treated before those with a reasonably good safety record. Implicitly, this assessment process takes cognisance of the overall cost of road traffic collisions to society in general. This approach has led to a substantial reduction in collisions and personal injuries at treated sites over a number of years.
With regard to the Ballyhackamore area of Belfast, I can advise that Roads Service has carried out a number of traffic-calming assessments, although the only site treated to date has been Wilgar Street.
Our local officials have also recently carried out consultations on proposals to provide traffic calming features in the following streets located in the Ballyhackamore area:
Belmont Church Road
I understand that a number of objections have been received, and these will have to be considered fully before a decision is taken to proceed with the traffic-calming measures.
In addition, preliminary assessments have also been carried out on the following streets, with a view to possible inclusion within our three-year programme of works, subject to their being favourably prioritised against competing locations: