Friday, 14 October 2011

Residential Roads - what speed limit should we have?

So what should the speed limit be on Langdale Way, School Lane, Ship Street, The Willows or indeed any of our residential roads whether or not there is a Primary School on them?  To all of us our children are very precious.  Would changing the speed limit help protect them and other vulnerable road users?

As a matter of law the speed limit at the moment is 30mph.  Now there are a few places on our residential roads where you could, at a push exceed 30mph if you wanted to..  However most of the time, most of us drive around 20mph or less - that's what is comfortable and reasonable bearing in mind all of us, whether adults, children, young, old, drivers, walkers, cyclists share the same road space and we need to look after each other.

The Coalition government is to make it easier for highway authorities to designate 20mph speed limit zones in residential areas.  It has been something of a scandal that the costs of changing a speed limit, going through the legal hoops of publishing traffic regulation orders and then changing the signage has run into £1,000s when most of us would imagine a £50 traffic sign would be all that was needed.

In March this year I got CWaC to change its proposed Local Transport Plan - which sets out our highways policies for the foreseeable future so that when the Council seeks to change a speed limit it must engage in consultation with all relevant parties - such as the emergency services, and in the case of changing speed limits on local roads that the consultation takes place with the local residents.  You wouldn't have thought this was controversial - however at least one Labour Councillor on CWaC wants to impose a blanket 20mph limit on all residential roads in the Borough without consulting anyone.  He thinks consultation with people is 'weak!'  Certainly that was the language he used about this policy in the Council Chamber anyway.  I'm sorry Cllr Robinson you may not realise that in Frodsham we had something of a revolution in our local elections in May - and those that won did so on the basis of wanting to have a dialogue with the community.   I'd like to think blanket policies and diktats wasn't the way anyone would seek to do things any more. 
Frodsham Town Council is to consider the principle of 20mph speed limits on Frodsham's residential roads at our next meeting.  This discussion may well lead on to a council sponsored community wide debate as to whether we would support having a lower speed limit.  Initial indications are that the police would not be putting significant resources behind policing such a lower limit and we know from work done in Frodsham and elsewhere that the people who tend to drive faster on our residential roads are usually local residents!

So would the community welcome a 20mph limit on our residential roads?  Would we support the change, and the costs in doing so - such as putting up the signs and publicising the traffic regulation orders?  Knowing that enforcing the speed limit change won't be a police priority - does that alter things?  You can't drive more than  20mph on many of our residential roads - would that mean changing the standard 30mph limit would be a waste of time in any event?  And then which roads are our residential roads...

However is the bigger prize the change in mindset and improving road safety and protecting the vulnerable.

Everyone is welcome to participate in the debate - please join in!