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Traffic Calming Leyland Farm/Meadows, Ballycastle: Maebh's Near Miss

My 4 year old daughter Maebh was almost hit by a car on Thursday 6 September when playing with her friends and brother and sister. It was a very near miss with a big and heavy Volvo Estate car travelling at excessive speed.

We live in a driving culture where 30mph is considered a minimum speed, as soon as drivers turn on the straight towards Leyland Road when exiting this development they accelerate without thought or regard for children playing. Also, when returning, the driver may travel at a sustained speed along the 210M road until braking at the last minute at the first T junction.

It is worth looking into the length and straightness of the sole access road for an estate of this size and think through the regulations with regards to Planning and Road Service to take measures to reduce the speed of traffic flow to simply save lives.

This is an absolute necessity that has to be done NOW, not at an end of year budget spend. To drag this out over time may result in an easily avoidable road death.

It is impossible for children to remain in their gardens to roller blade, play ball games and ride bicycles for example. Most gardens are actually open to the road with no walls or fences.

It may be considered a domino effect due to the greed of housing developers being unchecked as a consequence of apathy within the town planning process coupled with a lack of 'joined-up thinking'. The upshot of which is the failure to provide adequate protection in the form of safe linking walk ways and play areas away from traffic.

It is a fact that the children residing in these housing areas do have to play in the streets, walk to school along unsafe roads, and cross them without pedestrian crossings.

It is a disgrace that estates such as Leyland Farm/Meadows exist in our modern times. Many other countries plan and develop housing areas and whole towns with the primary goal to keep people and traffic apart. Ballycastle is a small town where it would be relatively easy to provide safe walkways to the majority of schools. There is also land adjacent to many housing areas that could be a safe place to play.

Please learn from my daughter's near miss, treat it as an alarm to act now. She is one of many that would be safer should some simple changes be made.

A father has warned that someone will be killed unless action is taken against speeding cars in Ballycastle.

Philip Robinson spoke out after his four-year-old daughter Maebh had a 'near miss' outside their Leyland Mews homes when she almost stepped into the path of a car driving out towards Leyland Road.

Philip said the stretch of road is notorious for speeding vehicles, and even travelling at 30mph is too fast in such a built up area.

“We have a big estate here, with a lot of traffic going in and out. On this straight stretch where we live there are no deterrents to make you slow down so drivers have a tendency to just 'floor it'," he said.

While Maebh was not injured in the incident, she was left very frightened and Philip is now calling for traffic calming measures to be introduced on the stretch of road, which will force drivers to slow down.

In a strongly worded letter sent to Councillors, MLAs and the North Antrim MP, Philip has branded the situation in the Leyland development a 'disgrace'.

“Many other countries plan and develop housing areas and whole towns with the primary goal to keep people and traffic apart.

“Ballycastle is a small town where it would be relatively easy to provide safe walkways to the majority of schools.

“There is also land adjacent to many housing areas that could be a safe place to play.

“Please learn from my daughter's near miss, treat it as an alarm to act now.

“She is one of many that would be safer should some simple changes be made."

However, Roads Service have since indicated that they view the area as a 'very low priority' for traffic calming and it has achieved target speeds by incorporating design features such as bends, curves, mini-roundabouts and junctions.

But as Philip has pointed out, these features do not exist on the straight stretch of road outside Leyland Mews and Moyle Enterprise Centre.

He also said that many other 'near misses', including collisions between cars in the area, have gone unreported.

He now plans to launch a petition and erect temporary signs reminding drivers to curb their speed.

The issue will be discussed at Moyle District Council on Monday, September 24, where it is expected to call for an urgent meeting with Roads Service.

After hearing about the incident, SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham restated his support to a campaign to reduce the speed limit on urban residential streets from 30mph to 20mph.

“Road injuries are amongst the leading causes of loss of life and disability worldwide, and regionally, a reduction in road related death and injury is a major aim of public policy," he said.

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