Campaigners call for blanket 20mph speed limit zones in Chester

Council voted in November to reduce residential area speed limit from 30mph - but only on street-by-street basis

by Simon_MacMichael   January 25, 2012  

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Cyclists in Chester have joined forces with road safety campaigners to call for the blanket implementation of a 20mph speed limit in residential areas throughout the city, rather than adopting a street-by-street approach to the issue.

In November, the Conservative-controlled Chester West and Chester Council voted to adopt 20mph zones throughout residential areas last year, but plans to consult with residents in individual areas ahead of consultation.

Simon Brown of the Chester Cycling Campaign told Chester First: “Many council areas across England have now adopted a default 20 mph limit for their residential areas and have seen the consequent benefits in reductions of children and young people, elderly and cyclist casualty figures in their areas.

“For example, Warrington and Wirral Councils have both adopted this approach. There is now plenty of evidence that a ‘whole area’ approach rather than a ‘piecemeal approach’ is effective at making areas where people live much safer and more pleasant by significantly reducing traffic speeds and modifying driver behaviour.

“Unfortunately Cheshire West and Chester Council, despite recognising the benefits of lower speeds for vulnerable highway users, have left it to local lobbying on a street by street basis to implement 20 mph speed limits,” he continued.

“This is not only costly in terms of councillor, officer and council time to deal with but is wasteful as areas across the borough are gradually included in the lower speed areas, as signage is put up and then changed as areas change.

“Not only that but sporadic and piecemeal 20 mph limit areas do not have a great effect on driver behaviour either.”

Next Monday 30 January at 7pm, Rod King from the road safety campaign group 20’s Plenty, will be addressing the Cheshire West and Chester Council’s city community forum on the issue at the Westminster Building, University of Chester, Parkgate Road.

When the proposals for 20mph zones were voted through by Chester West and Chester Council last November, one Conservative council member, Eveleigh Moore-Dutton, quoted in the Chester Chronicle, said that while she backed 20mph zones in general, she felt there were areas where the existing speed limit of 30mph should be retained.

“I am in favour of 20mph speed limits,” she maintained. “I think they bring great benefits but I’m also a passionate and pragmatic believer in localism which means that we use the evidence that comes from people’s proven desires, coupled with the evidence of need, to ensure that 20mph speed limits are introduced in the areas where they will be most effective and where they have community support,” she added.

Labour Councillor David Robinson pointed out that in the four months since the current council had been installed in May last year, on 30mph roads in its area “we have had 201 casualties in four months - 23 were pedestrians, 32 were cyclists and sadly there were two fatalities.

“In other words a quarter of those casualties have actually been vulnerable road users.”