Calls for a speed limit at the Skye – Raasay ferry junction “not considered necessary”

The current speed limit of 60 mph on the A87 at Sconser ferry terminal is the subject of a passionate debate. Photo credit: Willie Urquhart.

Calls for a lower speed limit on the A87 at the Sconser ferry junction have been backed by the local constituency MSP.

In response to growing local concerns over road safety, Kate Forbes MSP wrote to Transport Scotland earlier this year to ask them to conduct a speed survey on what is presently a 60mph limit.

In a letter to the Free Press last week Anne Gillies, the chair of Raasay Community Council, said it was “blatantly obvious” to all regular ferry users that the junction was dangerous.

The latest available figures, from March 2013 to March 2018, record no personal injury accidents 250 metres either side of the junction for the ferry, but it is understood there have been numerous near misses caused by sharp braking.

Kate Forbes said: “Even when I’ve not been catching the ferry to Raasay, on every journey to the north of Skye I will pass the junction for the Sconser ferry.

“There have been several times where I have had to slam my brakes on, particularly when I’m driving southbound on the A87, either because visitors have slowed down to enjoy the picturesque view across the sea or because they are making a sharp turn in to catch the ferry.

“We must not also forget that Raasay children get the bus here each school day – which involves crossing the road en route to Portree High School.

“I wrote to Transport Scotland earlier this year and was pleased that they agreed that Bear Scotland would undertake a review around this junction.

“Given the continued popularity of visitors to Skye, which will inevitably result in an increase in the number of vehicles passing this point on the A87, a reduction in the speed limit would be a helpful first step to addressing road safety issues here.”

Raasay Community Council Chair Anne Gillies believes that “radical action” is required to ensure the safety of children around the trunk road. Willie Urquhart.

In her letter published in last week’s Free Press, Mrs Gillies said: “Without any form of supervision Raasay and Sconser children have to cross this 60mph trunk road at this point with its restricted vision and complex distractions.

“We believe the situation requires urgent, radical action.”

Transport Scotland has said a speed limit review, published in 2012, concluded that a 60mph speed limit is appropriate for the location.

The agency said that as there have been no material changes, a review of the speed limit “is not considered necessary”.

Police Scotland reported to Transport Scotland that motorists were generally in compliance with the speed limit and records show there have been no injury accidents recorded there in the past 10 years.

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “Road safety is a key priority and that is why we assess its performance across the trunk road network annually, including on the A87 at the Sconser ferry terminal. Where appropriate, further investigations and mitigation measures are carried out to ensure an evidence-based approach to how we prioritise resources across the country as we aim to deliver the Scottish Government’s 2020 casualty reduction targets.

“While we have no current plans to review the speed limit at this particular location, our operating company Bear Scotland is currently investigating ways to improve visibility and the possible relocation of signage.”

Transport Scotland have, however, promised a traffic survey and pedestrian crossing count will take place shortly in the vicinity of the ferry terminal junction of the A87 to identify any issues faced by pedestrians, including school children, and drivers.

They say this will be used to assess whether any infrastructure improvements are necessary to improve facilities for pedestrians to cross at this location.

Article by Keith MacKenzie