Why are we all in such a hurry to kill ourselves ..and the planet?

Dear counsellors,

Many thanks for your consideration.

I am a resident of Co. Louth. I have a young family who school in Co. Louth. I work in Co. Louth and choose to cycle to and from work. I wish to spend my life here, to grow old here, to enjoy life and for my family to thrive here. I wish to see speed limits that are conducive to this plan. With current speed limits the above can all be taken away from me if a motorist isn’t looking, is distracted,  or makes a genuine mistake…but at speed.

I am a member of the Louth W.A.T.C.H club, which stands for Walking and Tandem Cycling for Health. This club encourages those with vision impairment, who are blind, and those with physical disabilities to use the road space of Co. Louth for exercise and leisure. It is not only the lack of cycle lanes that makes this unnecessarily unsafe, but motorists speed. One of the aims of this club is to re-imagine this road space not just for motorists and cyclists, but for all members of society. This includes slowing motorist down, both urban and rural.

I am a member of Dundalk Cycling  Alliance. We not only petition for safer cycling in Dundalk and the surrounds, we have demonstrated how this might work, where cycle lanes should go, how greenways might help and much more. One of the consistent impediments to active transport that is reported is that of safety. For adults, children, leisure cyclists, commuters and more we need to slow motorists down to encourage more people onto the roads on their bikes.

I am also a member of Irish Doctors for the Environment and chair the Climate and Health Alliance. We are in a syndemic of climate change, multimorbidity & noncommunicable diseases and poor mental health. The Irish population is one of the least healthy in Ireland. There is no future capacity to deal with the disease (cancer, heart disease, diabetes and on) that our unhealthy lifestyles have locked in. However, these unhealthy lifestyles are a result of unhealthy environments that we haver created. One of the few triple wins that sees wins for planet, patients and pocket is active transport. Parking climate change, one of the most devastating health and economic costs that can befall the state is that of road traffic accidents. We need a suite of measures that will improve the health of the Irish population while also meeting our climate ambitions. Slowing motorists down would be a meaningful start.

There is ample evidence from the literature to worked examples in the UK and through Europe that slowing motorists down will not only reduce emissions, encourage active transport but will also save lives.

I ask for ;political courage to enact this and to make Co Louth and attractive place for people to live and thrive in Co. Louth now and in the future.

Many thanks for your time and consideration.

Dr Sean Owens

Clermont Health


Co Louth