20mph speed limits on residential roads are becoming more common across the UK, although they are still rare in Surrey. Why is this?
Our neighbours in White Rose Lane presented a petition at the end of June to the Woking Borough Council/Surrey County Council Joint Committee for a 20mph speed limit. This was extremely well argued on the basis of use by pedestrians and cyclists, especially schoolchildren, and the narrowness and serpentine nature of the road. In discussion, the 20mph limit was supported by the vast majority of WBC councillors.
SCC argued against it on the basis that there had been no relevant accidents, they could not afford the necessary speed calming measures (different speed bumps, gates, etc.), that average speeds at 24mph were too high to make a 20mph speed limit effective (!!!), and that the best solution would be to build a pavement, but SCC could not afford the infrastructure or compulsory purchases anyway.
A motion was still put to approve the 20mph speed limit, irrespective of infrastructure. This looked likely to be passed. However, on an interjection by the Woking CEO on a procedural point, the motion was changed to requesting an assessment, which was passed. It will be interesting to see when this is followed up by the Committee.
SCC seem generally to oppose 20mph limits and will seek to block most applications. SCC has a policy that furthers this opposition which says no limits should be implemented without the appropriate calming measures (which they cannot afford!).
The national government supports 20mph limits; the statistics on injuries and deaths are overwhelmingly persuasive. However, recent research has shown that 20mph speed limits are breached fairly frequently and certainly more so than 30mph, and that infrastructure is necessary to ensure compliance.
It can be argued that, although infrastructure is to be welcomed, it is the message of the expectation of the responsible driver to respect the 20mph limit that is most important. The Highway Code demands that drivers drive at an appropriate speed, but the psychological and legal messages of a 20 vs 30 limit should not be ignored if more play-streets, pedestrian and cycling journeys are to be encouraged.
We know some residents are in favour of 20mph speed limits in parts of Byfleet, West Byfleet and Pyrford. Should your Association support 20mph speed limits in appropriate residential roads and seek to change Surrey policy by removing the infrastructure condition and supporting 20mph limits?
Let us know your views by commenting below…