The London borough of Southwark has this afternoon announced it will not attempt to impose speed limits on cyclists as part of its adoption of a 20 mph limit across the borough.
While lower speed limits are to be welcomed as reducing road danger for vulnerable road users such as cyclists, there was concern that attempting to apply the limit to cyclists was beyond the council’s legal powers, and would provide police with another excuse to harass cyclists in light of the Met’s disproportionate attention to cyclists in Operation Safeway.
Cycle campaign charity CTC pointed out that the Road Traffic Regulations Act gives local authorities the power to impose new speed limits only on motor vehicles, not cyclists.
Following road.cc’s stories on this issue yesterday and this morning, Southwark Council issued the following statement.
Councillor Mark Williams, cabinet member for transport: "The council sees the establishment of a 20 mph borough as significant step forward in ensuring the safety of all road users not least cyclists and pedestrians. To achieve this we feel that all vehicles should limit their speed to 20 mph.
"The report published on the 18 July to determine the statutory objections relating to a borough-wide 20mph speed limit makes it clear that orders made under Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 can apply to motor vehicles only and as such any prosecution by the police for breaches of the speed limit under that Act would be limited to motorised vehicles only. Accordingly the traffic order will be amended to make reference to "motorised vehicles" only.
"The council does not have powers to prosecute cyclists who travel in excess of 20 mph and recognises that dangerous cycling is a matter for the police alone. Nor are we seeking to " target" cyclists for enforcement, rather to reflect the concerns raised by pedestrians about the problems caused by a small minority of cyclists whose speed endangers other road users."
In addition, the council’s head of public realm, Des Waters said in an email: “We have been looking again at our whole approach to cycling, with people from Denmark and the Netherlands and we are planning on bringing forward a new approach to increase cycling in Southwark later this year.”
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.