Cardiff could join a growing number of cities across Britain in introducing a 20mph speed limit in residential areas. News that transport chiefs in the Welsh capital are looking to bring in the lower limit follows the launch of the GO 20 campaign by Brake and other charities during Road Safety Week, and comes in the same month that councillors in Birmingham backed a motion to implement a 20mph limit across the city's residential roads.
Ralph Cook, Cardiff City Council's cabinet member for transport, has told his staff to carry out a feasibility study into implementing a 20mph zone across the city, reports Wales Online.
The website adds that Welsh Transport Minister Carl Sergeant has urged local authorities across Wales to adopt the lower limit, ands says the Labour controlled council likely to vote on any proposals some time next year.
“If it was up to me it would be on all residential streets that are not main arterial routes. That would incorporate every school, district shopping centre and park,” Councillor Cook explained.
“My view is that if we cut it to 20mph and try to enforce it one way or another – either through penalties or peer group pressure – it needs a few years for people to adapt and adopt it.
“Personally, I reckon every road – except arterial roads – in the city should be 20mph, I cannot really think of any reason why not.
“But my views are not the only ones that are going to be implemented – we need to provoke a discussion.”
The debate on any potential reduction of the speed limit has already started, with concerns expressed over the effectiveness of any such limit if it is not supported by other measures aimed at calming traffic speed.
That in turn gives rise to the issue of how much it might cost to bring in any changes, with Wales Online stating that a blanket 20mph zone marked out simply by road signs might cost £1,000 per kilometre, while specific 20mph zones restricted to particular areas and supported by traffic calming features such as speed humps could cost £60,000 per kilometre.
According to Jane Lorimer, deputy director of Sustrans Cymru, simply putting up 20mph had only a negligible effect on motorists, with average speeds only falling by between 1 and 2mph.
“If we are trying to change the culture of streets we need a more significant speed reduction,” she maintained. “In Cardiff we would be looking at it as a step towards people using the streets differently and the car no longer being king," she continued, adding that it was vital to ensure the support of local communities were given to any plans.
However, IAM spokesman Tim Shallcross believed that targeting 20mph zones around locations such as schools was key to getting motorists to cut their speed.
“A blanket speed limit just put up on the cheap with a few signs is not a good idea and its unlikely to be well observed, unless it’s backed up by cameras, which could lead to suspicions that it’s a revenue raiser,” he insisted.
Meanwhile, members of Birmingham City Council voted in favour of a motion earlier this month that will see 20mph zones introduced throughout England’s second biggest city, eventually extending to all residential roads.
However, questions surround whether the police have adequate resources to enforce the limit, reports the Birmingham Post.
According to the newspaper, currently there are 246 streets in the city’s 2,500km road network that are subject to 20mph limits, phased in over the past two decades.
The motion debated earlier this month was tabled by Liberal Democrat Councillor David Willis, who said: “It’s regrettable that it’s taken almost 20 years to create a 20mph zones. We simply cannot wait a further 30 years.
“The current procedure of generating a Traffic Regulation order for a single road is slow and bureaucratic. It must surely be far easier to implement a traffic regulation order on a group of roads in a community following consultations with residents regarding the design of a suitable scheme.”
However, Tom Cuddeford, deputy chairman of the West Midlands Police Federation, said that cuts to the road policing team, which has seen its complement reduced from 150 to 90 officers, meant that police resources were stretched.
“We are going through all these cuts and while officers will do their best when asked,” he stated.
“The road policing unit has been cut very severely over the last couple of years and are spread more thinly. That is obviously our concern. It is unlikely they will be able to pro-actively target these zones.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.