Introduction of Periodic 30km/h speed limits outside schools

Initiative details

Speed limits and speeding in the vicinity of schools.

In Ireland many of our ‘Front of school’ zones tend to be busy and congested. Where school bus transport is not available for example, children often travel several kilometres to their schools from rural localities in the private family car. We also have the habit of very short and often unnecessary (less than 1km) trips by car to school; parents frequently cite traffic and speed as a reason for the car trip. In essence it’s a self-propagating habit; the more who drive, the more who feel it’s dangerous and so the drive level ensues.

Wicklow County Council are conscious and concerned regarding their school going population. We are aware of studies detailing that pedestrians have a 90% chance of surviving a car crash at 30km/h or below, but that the probability of a pedestrian being killed rises by a factor of 8 as the impact speed of the car rises from 30km/h to 50km/h. Existing speed limits in the vicinities of County Wicklow’s schools varied from 50km up to 80km per hour. Wicklow County Council were keen to address this lack of equity in shared spaces where vehicles and vulnerable road users mix on a thrice daily basis.

We felt there was no justification for drivers to travel at high speeds in the vicinity of schools. Changes were proposed to reduce speed, to reduce risk and to make the front of school environment a safer place for all. Various options were looked at, including the enforcement of fixed speed limits or the introduction of periodic speed limits in school zones which would require drivers to reduce their speed.

It was agreed that the on roads outside schools that would not be subject to a fixed speed limit of 30km/h, periodic speed limits of 30km/h should be proposed to Elected Members*, as anything that addresses the notion of reduction in speed must be considered for the most vulnerable road users.

The members of each local authority are called 'Councillor’s, or ‘Elected Members’. Councillors are directly elected in local elections, to represent their district at a local level. The number of councillors elected to each local authority depends on the population of the local authority area. In total, Wicklow have 32 Elected Members.

Initiative date


Who was/is your target audience?

Policy makers
Public authorities
Children 0-16
Car drivers
Educational staff
Public transport
Van drivers
Lorry/truck drivers
Micromobility riders


Create awareness
Education in school or in community organizations
Improve vehicles and infrastructure

Organisation details

Wicklow County Council
Local Public authority

Contact name

Maura Campbell

Telephone number


Project activities

If you work together with external partners, list the most important partners and briefly describe their role.

A countywide review of speed limits that commenced in January 2021 was carried out in accordance with the ‘Guidelines for Setting and Managing Speed Limits in Ireland’ issued by the Department of Transport Tourism and Sport for the application of speed limits in Ireland.

The process included an extensive consultation with the Transport Infrastructure Ireland, a state agency in Ireland dealing with road and public transport infrastructure, An Garda Síochána, adjoining local authorities and municipal district councils. Following this process the draft bye-laws were advertised for public consultation.

Submissions received were considered and a report was presented to each of the Municipal District Councils and following those meetings the final draft of the Special Speed Limit Bye-Laws was brought before the members of Wicklow County Council at the meeting on 13th February 2023 where the new Special Speed Limit Bye-Laws were approved and adopted.

The County Wicklow Road Traffic Special Speed Limit Bye-Laws of 2023 are due to come into effect on 1st June 2023, with the periodic limits due to come into effect 1st August 2023.

Wicklow schools were supported by Europe’s Federation of Environmental Education (FEE) Irish partner Green-Schools with their Slow Down campaigns and raised awareness of the benefits of slower speeds. The campaign was also backed and supported by Ireland’s ‘Love 30’ Campaign.

Please describe the project activities you carried/are carrying out and the time period over which these were implemented.

In Ireland on a five-year basis, all local authorities are obliged to review speed limits across their respective county. In 2021, Senior Management in Wicklow County Council proposed a series of speed limit changes to Elected Members. With many established levels of 30 km/h zones in the urban settings, the move to introduce 30km/h periodic speed limits outside schools across the county was proposed. The setting of speed limits is a reserved function of the elected members, any changes would have to be passed and adopted by Elected Members before they could be implemented.

Wicklow County Council have five Municipal Districts in total. To the north, the district of Greystones was the first to adopt the motion. When the county wide speed limit review process commenced, it was felt that the changes adopted in Greystones should be carried out across the board and be implemented across all five municipalities. In essence, the benefit to the urban districts piqued the interest and ultimately the support of the rural districts also.

In February 2023, Wicklow County Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the motion to reduce speed limits every one of the 102 schools in County Wicklow to 30km/h on a periodic and bespoke basis. August 1st, 2023 will see a historic first for Ireland with the new periodic speed bye laws coming into place. These changes would not have been possible without the support and backing of the Elected Members. It was very timely that a year to the day earlier a series of schools within the County expressed a desire for 30km/h limits.

During the summer of 2023, a suite of new solar panel signage will be installed at every school in Wicklow. The signage will indicate on a bespoke basis the periodic speed limits for each school. This comes at a cost of €800,000 which was deemed a significantly worthwhile investment coming from Wicklow County Council senior management’s own budget. Modifications of approaches to a series of the schools will be carried out to ensure the facilitation of achievable vehicle speeds at the 30km/h level.


What has been the effect of the activities?

Community confidence from our school population, accompanied by delight that periodic 30km/h will become the new norm for all schools in Wicklow. We know this from communications with Green-Schools Travel working on the ground in Wicklow schools encouraging active travel and informing schools of the changes that will come into force when the children return to school at the end of August 2023.

• The ‘Extension of the urban 30km/h zones’ encapsulates 48 schools.
• 54 schools will benefit from the newly adopted periodic 30km/h limit.
• 102 schools in total will benefit from these significant changes.
• The reach extends to a primary school population of 15,900 students aged 4 to 13.
• The reach extends to a secondary school population of 12,750 students aged 13 to 18.

The new 30km/h speed limit bye-laws come into place for the beginning of the next school year.

• Drivers will be required to adjust their speed to the new 30km/h limit when they pass through the school zone during the activated hours.

• Drivers proceeding at the new lower limit will make the school gate environment a much safer, quieter and less intimidating place for all those in the vicinity.

• The safety of children is paramount for us as a county, it is our intention that the new signage sends a clear message to all motorists that they need to slow down.

• Traffic counters (With bi-directional speed capture) will be installed on a scheduled basis to assess the efficacy of the new school 30km/h zones.

• We anticipate a driver behaviour change, and will react accordingly where the speed limit is exceeded via additional infrastructural changes and adaptions.

• We also anticipate a modal shift change, where parents’ confidence in walking, cycling or scooting their children to school becomes a more attractive option.

Wicklow County Council wish to highlight our commitment to the Irish Government’s vision zero and our aim is to assist that vision and bring Ireland one step closer towards fruition of zero road deaths.

The Government’s Vision Zero message is an integral part of Ireland’s Road Safety Strategy 2021 – 2030, which is ‘a long term goal aimed at eradicating road traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2050’.


In October 2022, public consultation opened to allow the public to submit observations, comments or objections to the ‘draft’ speed limit bye-laws for the county. These covered national, regional and local roads and the proposed changes these new bye-laws would implemented. These draft speed bye-laws detailed the proposed radical changes to speed limits outside schools.

329 public submissions were received.

In one of the more urban District of Greystones, close to 50% of submissions received specifically targeted and focused on the request for periodic 30km zones around schools – demonstrating to us the sentiment of those living in the area who also recognised the importance of implementing these changes and support for same.

Green-Schools are close allies in the world of active travel and environmental education in County Wicklow and indeed throughout Ireland’s 31 local authorities. Each Local Authority in Ireland has the benefit of a Green-Schools Travel Officer and more recently a targeted team of Safe Routes to School Infrastructural Officers. These 40 officers are all informed with regard to the periodic 30km/h for all schools. This precedent enables these officers the opportunity to cite a large Local Authority who put these wheels in motion and provide a real time example of periodic 30km/h speed limits in the vicinity of all schools.

Green-Schools Travel have openly supported and congratulated our unprecedented move which in turn compliments their work in encouraging active modes of travel on the journey to school. Wicklow 30km/h School Speed Limits – Green-Schools (

“Green-Schools Travel are supporters of the Love 30 Campaign and are delighted to congratulate Wicklow County Council on their significant and unprecedented action to introduce a county wide speed limit of 30km/h in the vicinity of all the schools in Wicklow.
Wicklow are the first county in Ireland to introduce 30km/h speed limits at all schools on the island of Ireland which will see schoolchildren living and attending schools in Wicklow benefit from this wonderful move.”

Improvement in Road Safety

Wicklow County Council hold a wealth of data on speed limits and actual driver speeds across all of our municipal districts. This baseline data provides a strong platform for assessing the success and efficacy of the speed limits and associated infrastructure and entry treatments.

The introduction of the 30km/h periodic speed limits takes place at the end of August 2023, aligned with the aforementioned baseline data and a schedule of traffic monitoring across the county we will be in a position to assess the reductions in speed and road safety improvements in the school vicinities.

That data will inform us in a very short space of time if further engineering intervention is required to reduce traffic speeds.

Was the impact felt at local, regional, national or even international level?

At a local level, there has been significant engagement with the schools themselves as well as the local councillors from the area, advocating for the need to make these changes and the need to get support and buy in.

At a regional and international level, we are advising others who are currently conducting speed limit reviews and providing our insights and expertise on how they can navigate and implement these changes.

We feel that it is important to bring our changes to the European audience which in part is an element of our reason in applying to the European Road Safety Charter Awards. We feel this move should be known in an international context and we are extremely grateful to the huge support received from the Elected Members in bring this project to reality.

We would be delighted to share the changes at national and international events. As a county, we believe we have had a huge part to play in assisting national and international partners to follow our lead and endeavour to respond positively to invites and opportunities to do so.

How was the effect measured and evaluated?

We are waiting for the new speed limits to be come into effect, following which on a scheduled basis we will then evaluate and measure the efficacy of the implementation.

We are confident that the measures will prove effective in making drivers slow down and will act immediately where issues arise.

As mentioned previously, we will be able to use speed limit data gathered so far which records speed limits across the county. This baseline platform enables the rapid assessment of the success for each location in gauging the vehicle speeds outside the schools.

In the event of accidents or injuries in these areas, the statistics inform us of a reduction in severity in injuries.

How does it complement other activities?

The introduction of the new speed limit byelaws will complement two facets of involvement and partnership with Green-Schools.

Green-Schools Travel and the more recent Safe Routes to Schools programme.

Green-Schools Travel have supported and continue to support Ireland’s Love 30 campaign. The assist schools in campaigning for lower speeds and conduct Walkability and Cyclability Audits with and for schools working on the International Green Flag programme. Speed is often a contributing factor in parent’s reluctance to walk or cycle to school or to allow their children to do so independently. Green-Schools conducted a national Speed Week initiative in 2022 and were supported by Wicklow County Council by the placement of 24-hour bidirectional traffic counters enabling them to compare their own data with ours.

Safe Routes to School was developed by the National Transport Authority (NTA) and Green-Schools. The programme provides support for schools to increase walking and cycling as the preferred travel mode where possible.

The programme is designed to encourage as many pupils and students as possible in primary and post-primary schools to walk and cycle. The addition of 30km/h periodic speed limits at Wicklow’s schools provide and compliments the action by Safe Routes to School in providing a safer environment and in facilitating more children and parents to walk, scoot or cycle to school.

A total of 932 schools across the country applied for the Safe Routes to School programme, representing one quarter of Ireland’s schools.

The programme is split into rounds and we are delighted to work with the Safe Routes to School staff on round one and round two schools. Following intense consultation and design works for the Round One schools are due commence in July/August 2023.

Please briefly explain why your initiative is a good example of improving road safety.

We are committed to implementing as many elements as possible of the Government’s Road Safety Strategy 2021 – 2030 and by introducing these measures, we are playing our part in actioning points outlined in the policy, including Action Point 79 ’examine the feasibility of 30kmh speed limit or lower in school vicinities and report on progress’.

At present, we are now assisting other counties who are undertaking speed limit reviews with advice on how we advanced the matter.

How easy would it be for other organisations/groups to implement a similar initiative?

Shortly after our new speed limit went public, we have been and continue to assist several other Local Authorities who are currently undertaking their mandated speed limit reviews. We are openly sharing our experiences and learnings with them. Support for the introduction of the changes was abundantly clear from the outset and should be seen as a welcome initiative in other counties.

How have you shared information about your project and its results?

In parallel to our speed limit review process, the Department of Transport are themselves conducting a National Speed Limit Review. Our Senior Engineering staff have worked closely with the National Speed Limit Review Group in sharing our experiences and achievements to date. We are hopeful that our county wide periodic 30km/h in the vicinity of schools will feature in the final National Review document.

The new speed limit bye-laws and the school vicinity move in particular has been shared and discussed at length at meetings in all five municipal districts. The details and information has been shared across all local media.

When the bye-laws are in place in August 2023, further targeted and dynamic promotion will take place highlighting the changes that have been adopted.

Information about the introduction of changes was disseminated by the Love 30 Campaign Group Love 30 who campaign for lower speed limits across Ireland and seek to have 30 km/h in those places where vulnerable road users and vehicles meet on a regular basis. An Taisce, The National Trust for Ireland via their Green-Schools Environmental Education Unit have also been a beneficiary and disseminator of the information. Green-Schools Travel are the Country member representative for the international Federation of Environmental Education (FEE) and they themselves members and supporters of the European Road Safety Charter.

School principals and their Boards of Management were consulted on the project and were engaged from the outset. The schools in turn advocated with parents on the proposed changes to achieve buy-in on the proposals to implement 30km/h periodic speed limits outside schools.

Which events, media and/or communication mechanisms were used for the dissemination of approaches and results?

The public consultation process was advertised across local media and promoted across social media encouraging the public to take part and submit their thoughts and observations.

Elected Members each received a letter with details of the speed limit review proposals, outlining the proposed changes. They were encouraged to provide feedback and their suggestions were incorporated into the draft proposals before it was formally adopted ensuring a very fair process that offers full representation to all of Wicklow’s constituents.

Once the new limits are in place, we will create promotional materials to highlight the road safety, environmental and social benefits of those changes. We will share the materials across our social media channels and website.

We will look to partner an ambassador school who will benefit from the introduction of these changes and have them advocate on our behalf to encourage motorists to abide by the new periodic speed limits. To date we have one confirmed ambassador school.

We will seek and create publicity around the changes through local press including the local print and online media and local radio. In addition we will target national press including Ireland’s main TV channel RTE. RTE’s children’s new show ‘News2Day’ have expressed interest in filming at one of our ambassador schools. On May 24th for example they filmed one of our county schools in the context of road safety and infrastructure surveys conducted by the students themselves and assisted by Green-Schools Travel staff.

Are the initiatives and its results well known at the local level – or even beyond (regional, national, international)?

The introduction of the new 30km/h bye-laws have been communicated widely across the county by several press and social media outlets.

• East Coast FM Radio
• Regional News including the Wicklow People, Bray People , Wicklow News Net etc
• National news: The Irish
• Irish Government National Speed Review
• Other Local Authorities across Ireland (National)
• Region wide social media within the municipal districts including Bray Open Forum
• The Greystones Guide
• Green-Schools website news
• Road Safety Authority
• Love 30 Campaign Ireland
• 30km/h Ambassador Secondary School – Scoil Chonglais, Baltinglass
• Elected Member’s Social Media platforms
• Schools and Parents Associations
• Tidy Towns Groups