People will go to all sorts of lengths to jazz up their cars, and although the additions might look cool, they’re not always practical.
23-year-old Christopher Fitzgibbon learned that the hard way, when he spent £3,000 to lower his car suspension only to discover he couldn’t get over speed bumps.
The young driver decided to drop the height of his VW Passat until the bottom of the car was just four inches off the ground, and the alteration cost more than the car itself – which Christopher bought for £2,500 in March 2016.
Though the car manufacturer had presumably ensured the car was perfectly driveable before it left the factory, Christopher claimed he made the alterations to improve stability and, more importantly, ‘look fresh’.
He’s forked out a grand total of £13,000 to keep his beloved car on the road in just three years – including £5,000 on just one year’s insurance.
But unfortunately freshness couldn’t save the 23-year-old when it came to making his daily commute.
The straightforward route to Christopher’s office, which travels through his local village of Galbally in Limerick, Ireland, is now covered in speedbumps, and with his car just four inches off the ground, it can’t make it over without getting damaged.
The first speed bump was installed in September last year, but now matching bumps have been created on the two other entry roads into the village.
The young driver has suffered £2,000 worth of damage trying to scrape over the traffic calming measures, impacting the tow hitch, shock absorbers, drop links, springs and bumpers, and he’s furious at the council for installing more of them.
These new ones have been up for about eight weeks and they’re just absolutely ridiculous because they stop me from driving through the village.
And it doesn’t matter what speed I’m at either – I could be driving at 5km per hour or 80 km per hour and it wouldn’t make a difference.
I feel discriminated against because I’m driving a modified car – it’s lowered, so it’s four inches off the road – and I’m being denied my right to drive on these roads.
To avoid further damage, the maintenance worker has to use surrounding roads to get to his office. As a result, the length of his commute is doubled.
Christopher can no longer drive to the Post Office, pub or shops, either.
The 23-year-old continued:
I used to drive through the village to get to work – but now I have to drive around Galbally, which adds on 15 miles in the morning and 15 in the evening.
That’s an extra 30 miles a day, 150 miles a week, 600 miles a month, and 7,000 miles a year – all because of speed bumps that are too high for my car.
I know I’m not the only person these bumps affect – my boss has complained to me about them, but he doesn’t want the attention.
The car enthusiast complained to the council, but he was met with a frosty reception as the road engineer called him ‘frivolous’ and ‘vexatious’.
Mr Fitzgibbon wants Limerick City and County Council to pay for the damage – but the officials have said his continued correspondence is causing ‘considerable disruption’ to its staff.
Limerick City and County Council also disputed Christopher’s claim that the bumps are six inches high, and insisted they are around half that, at 75mm.
A spokesperson said:
The speed ramps/cushions that were placed in the Galbally this year were put in as per Limerick City and County Council’s Traffic Calming Policy Document are only 75mm high and were placed on the R662.
We have received no other complaint in relation to them.
A traffic survey carried out prior to installation indicated high levels of speed through the village and non-compliance with existing speed limits. The introduction of the measures has resulted in a safer village for all.
Similar speed cushions were introduced in other areas of the county without issue.
I’m not sure the council will budge on this one – Christopher might have to give up his ‘fresh’ look and go back to driving a regular-height car if he wants to shorten the commute!
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.