20mph trial gets the thumb-up … but more support needed

Amanda and 20mph sign

There was a lively discussion on the Queen Edith’s 20mph trial at the Cambridge South Area meeting on Monday night. The meeting was held at the Cherry Hinton Village Centre for the first time, and was well attended, with many people there specially for either the 20mph item on the agenda or the policing session.

Mr Richard Preston from Cambridgeshire County Council Highways Dept was there to report and listen, and at my request, the police stayed on for the discussion.

Despite disappointing speed tests showing that drivers have not changed their behaviour much, here was general support for continuing with the lower 20mph limit, but there were also emphatic demands for two things that would make it work much better:

  • better signage (painted areas on the road or flashing signs)
  • police enforcement

There was a request for the lower limit to be extended to the whole of the estate, a change which councillors are happy to take on board. We limited it to Gunhild, Godwin and Wulfstan Ways initially, on the grounds that these roads had schools – but the point of a trial is that you can learn from it and make changes.

Mr James Woodburn of the Cambridge Cycling Campaign presented some very useful evidence, explaining how Portsmouth had brought in 20mph speed limits across 94% of the overall road length. They had taken a much more holistic approach, getting police buy-in from the beginning, making signage really prominent and giving much more information about the trial before it began. The result had been very good adherence to the lower speeds.

We asked Inspector Kerridge what enforcement there had been and what the police could offer us for the future. He didn’t give us a direct answer about what enforcement there had been (I suspect none) but explained the police had needed to do some research first about the viability of enforcing a 20mph limit. But he did say: ‘Can we enforce 20? Yes we can!’ and explained the approach he would like to take (talking to people and advising them if they were driving at over 20mph, following that up with a letter, before actually ticketing), while making it clear that the police would not enforce every 20mph limit without local requests to do so in areas where infringement was a particular problem. So: halfway there.

Mr Preston from the County Council told us more signage would cost about £500 (the cost of a painting gang) and that interactive signs could cost up to £5,000. The County had initially been trying not to clutter the area up with too many signs and taken a low-key approach – but in v iew of our comments would look favourably on local requests for more signs … if funding could be found. That may mean we have to fund them from Area Committee funds.

Mr Preston will report back on what we said on Monday to a joint county/city transport committee, and it is expected that the lower limit will remain. We evidently have more work to do on securing the better signage and police enforcement, but Monday’s meeting was a constructive sharing of what’s needed to improve the scheme. Thanks to all those who came along to speak, especially Claire from Godwin Way and Jim and James the Cycling Campaign, and to everyone who sent in surveys, or made comments on the Queen Edith’s  Facebook page.

Oh … our trial appear to have made the news!

BBC News

BBC News (Cambridgeshire)

2 thoughts on “20mph trial gets the thumb-up … but more support needed

  1. John Lawton says:

    Over in Market Ward, and specifically Maid’s Causeway / Newmarket Road West, Brunswick & North Kite R.A. recently ran a fortnight of Community Speedwatch sessions, for approximately 3hours per day. these used the flashing radar operated road sign, and we logged speeding vehicles. Well worth doing as it does raise awareness, does slow (some) of the traffic down, and makes you feel that you are doing something to fight back against speeding. I’d recommend your residents’ association(s) if you have them, to go for this scheme. BruNK are happy to come and talk about our experiences.

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