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Tonbridge to implement town-wide 20mph speed limit to encourage more cycling

MP backs temporary measures which may become permanent

Tonbridge is to impose a town-wide 20mph speed limit in a bid to encourage active travel. The Kent town will initially implement measures temporarily, but it is hoped the changes will reduce congestion and air pollution and ultimately be made permanent.

The changes are being made thanks to emergency active travel funding from the Government and will be introduced through an Experimental Traffic Order, which will involve changing the speed zone before monitoring the impact.

Kent County Council (KCC) said it would run a consultation before making the 20mph limit permanent. It says studies have previously shown that 20mph zones increase walking and cycling levels by about a fifth.

Tonbridge county councillor Michael Payne said: "As part of the Emergency Active Travel Fund from the Government, I am delighted that we have successfully made the case within Kent County Council for part of the £1.6million funding from the first tranche to be spent on a town-wide 20mph zone in Tonbridge.

"This should benefit cyclists and walkers alike, as well as making our roads safer for residents and all road users.

"As Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport I have long campaigned for safer roads in Kent. Reducing speeds to 20mph should be one of the best ways to achieve this locally in Tonbridge."

Tom Tugendhat, the Conservative MP for Tonbridge and Malling, backed the plan.

"Achieving a town-wide 20mph zone in Tonbridge is what many want," he said.

"Those of us with young children, with difficulty getting around, or who just like to wander down a safer road, welcome this change.

"As more of us choose to cycle it will help reduce speeding and make more people confident to leave cars and buses and take to two wheels."

Earlier this month, the Welsh Senedd backed plans to make 20mph the default speed limits in residential areas in Wales.

In response to this, South Wales East Senedd member David Rowlands, from the Brexit Party, somewhat facetiously argued that the only way injuries and deaths on the roads could be eliminated would be "for us all to return to walking."

"This constant reduction in speed could be applied to our motorways,” he said. “A 30mph speed limit on these would save far more lives."

Deputy transport minister Lee Waters cited a Welsh Government report which found that even a 1% drop in average speeds was likely to bring about a 6% drop in casualties.

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