20mph speed limit mooted for Cardiff, councillors in Birmingham vote to adopt it

Welsh capital and England's second biggest city set to implement lower speed limit

by Simon_MacMichael   November 29, 2012  

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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.”

 

10 user comments

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Cyclist in control of the brief in Cardiff. Good ol' Mr Cook.

posted by mattheww385 [45 posts]
29th November 2012 - 10:59

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Enforcing 20mph isn't really an issue. Once enough motorists abide by it we all have to. Realistically 25mph is what people will settle on when sheer weight of traffic isn't dictating 20mph anyway. It's still a vast improvement on the 35-40mph lots of motorists think is acceptable at present.

As I've said before - banning smoking in restaurants and iPads were 'never going to work' - until they both did.

I hope by 2016 we'll all be wondering about why it took so long to slow everyone down - and all the deaths and expensive traffic calming measures it cost over the years to reach the only cost effective and logical solution.

Silly me. You're probably right....

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posted by MercuryOne [1011 posts]
29th November 2012 - 11:36

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20mphh limit sounds good, BUT...

how will it be enforced, if it is through traffic calming, ie pinchpoints, humps and the like i can actually see it being less safe for cyclists. The driving obsession with overtaking cyclists, regardless of whether it is safe to do so will come to the fore!

If it is going to be done it has to be done in such a way that doesn't create a roadscape that is less safe than it currently is for all road users. which means considering not just cars, or pedestrians but also cyclists.

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posted by mrmo [1007 posts]
29th November 2012 - 11:41

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noticed that a lot of us states also have 20 (ish) mph
speed limits in residential areas.

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [664 posts]
29th November 2012 - 12:29

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mrmo wrote:
20mphh limit sounds good, BUT...

how will it be enforced, if it is through traffic calming, ie pinchpoints, humps and the like i can actually see it being less safe for cyclists. The driving obsession with overtaking cyclists, regardless of whether it is safe to do so will come to the fore!

If it is going to be done it has to be done in such a way that doesn't create a roadscape that is less safe than it currently is for all road users. which means considering not just cars, or pedestrians but also cyclists.


This.

It seems that if you just put up 20mph signs, then drivers take no notice. You have to put in all sorts of humps and chicanes - which are terrible on a bike (I commute on fixed so am particularly concerned about being squeezed into kerbs or humps). The "3 humps" systems they put across roads seem to encourage drivers to either drive too far left or in the middle of the road to straddle them.

I've never seen a speed camera in a 20mph zone. Do they work down to this speed?

posted by SteppenHerring [153 posts]
29th November 2012 - 12:37

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therevokid wrote:
noticed that a lot of us states also have 20 (ish) mph
speed limits in residential areas.

France has used 30 kmh (18.6 mph) limits in residential zones for years.

posted by cookdn [13 posts]
29th November 2012 - 13:21

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What is the point of a 20mph zone?

There are a few nearby and they don't work. I've experienced people accelerate harshly before braking equally harshly to make the speed bump. Just like people only brake for a speed camara before resuming "normal" speed. As for 4x4 that simply ride over any traffic calming measure...

The UK needs to take a chill pill/learn to relax and stop being so impatiant.

Better late than dead on time.

posted by Yorkshie Whippet [271 posts]
29th November 2012 - 13:32

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Don't forget that public vehicles will have to drive at 20mph, or the drivers risk losing their jobs

buses, council vehicles, police cars, off-duty ambulances

it shouldn't take that long to normalise these limits

even less time if the police decide they can want to be part of the enforcement process

posted by fluffy_mike [79 posts]
29th November 2012 - 16:29

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Of course, now every delivery driver will take longer to drop off all of their goods meaning that freight companies will need to put more trucks on the roads and charge us all more Thinking

I hate the fact that the only way to do things in this day and age is by force. Take for example the news last night that in the Medway area to stop children getting fat they are going to ban take-aways from opening near to schools! Fine, I'm all for making sure people aren't obese but why does it have to be enforced before it happens. Why can't people be responsible?

Same on the roads. I doubt anybody actually has a problem with traffic moving at 30mph, but because everyone decides to go at 40mph instead those of us who do stay at or below the limit get basically penalised. Grumpy Dave Sad

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posted by Municipal Waste [190 posts]
29th November 2012 - 21:01

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Yorkshie Whippet wrote:
What is the point of a 20mph zone?

There are a few nearby and they don't work. I've experienced people accelerate harshly before braking equally harshly to make the speed bump. Just like people only brake for a speed camara before resuming "normal" speed. As for 4x4 that simply ride over any traffic calming measure...

The UK needs to take a chill pill/learn to relax and stop being so impatiant.

Better late than dead on time.

Patience, that long forgotten word it seems. I couldn't agree more Yorkshire Whippet. All we ever seem to hear is about faster Broadband, 4G the new faster mobile connection, faster cars to get stuck in traffic, drivers trying to get home 2 minutes earlier, faster trains to cut the travel time to London down by 20 mins. Pay extra on Amazon to get a faster delivery next day by 9am! Faster planes I could live with though Wink

posted by Andyd64 [13 posts]
30th November 2012 - 17:58

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