Oxford police set to toughen enforcement of 20mph limits

New ACPO guidelines set drop enforcement limit from 32mph to 24mph

Police in Oxford are planning tougher enforcement of the city’s 20mph speed limits, a road safety measure that has already been credited with a reduction in crashes, according to the Oxford Mail.

Oxford police currently only issue tickets to drivers doing more than 32mph in 20mph zones, but from next month that looks set to drop to 24mph under new guidelines from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

The head of the Thames Valley Police’s roads policing department, said it was “extremely likely” it would adopt the new guidelines.

He said: “This will help change the attitudes of those who get caught breaching 20mph limits and in turn change their behaviour, which is critical in making roads safer for all who use them or live near them.”

The changes mean drivers pinged doing between 24 and 31mph would be offered the choice of £100 fine and three licence points, or a £95 speed awareness course and no points.

Between 31mph and 34mph they could be fined and over 35mph could find themselves in court.

Oxford has proven itself to be particularly in need of the safety benefits brought by lower speed limits in built up areas. Cyclist deaths and serious injuries in Oxford doubled from 2001 to 2011, after 20mph zones were introduced but before they began to be enforced.

Accidents fell by 18 percent after the zones were brought in.

The 20’s Plenty for Us campaign group today said that the country was in transition toward 20mph becoming the normal residential speed limit.

The amendment to ACPO guidelines comes as a result of requests from Parliamentary Under Secretary for Transport Norman Baker for tougher policing of 20mph limits and the City of London recently voted overwhelmingly for all roads to have a 20mph limit.

Founder of 20’s Plenty for Us, Rod King MBE, said: “The 30mph national limit has been rejected as inappropriate by many of our largest conurbations for where people live, shop, work and travel to school. We are in transition to 20mph limits being the norm with exceptions where a higher limit is justifiable.

“Authorities must recognise that ‘It’s time for 20’ and that ‘There’s a place for 30’. This needs to be done by setting 20mph as the normal built-up speed limit and then repeater signs showing where it’s right to have another limit.  This signage rule change is both cheaper and gives drivers a consistent message.”

20's Plenty say that lowering urban and residential speed limits to 20 mph has been found to increase a urban journeys by just 40 seconds maximum, on average, but to decrease child pedestrian accidents by up to 70%.

However, not everyone is happy. The Oxford Mail spoke to plumber Kevin Wallington, who was caught speeding in his 20mph street. 

He said: “They are just trying to get revenue off people. They shouldn’t be monitoring a 20mph hill with 10 coppers when they could be catching pickpockets in Oxford or burglars, and keeping law and order.

“They are raking it in like we are some kind of fat cash cow.

“They will be taxing us for breathing fresh air soon.

 “It actually takes your concentration away from the road if you are looking at the speed dial to make sure you are below 20.”

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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