September Song JP Cooper
A pilot scheme could pave the way for Hampshire County Council to introduce 20mph speed limits on more residential streets to improve the quality of life for residents, as well as their safety.
A report considered by Councillor Mel Kendal, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, at his Decision Day on 3 April, has gained approval for the development of five pilot residential 20mph schemes. The proposal has been developed in order to test the feasibility for wider implementation across the county, in response to regular requests for 20mph speed restrictions from residents and community groups.
The Department of Transport (DfT) have recently made changes to the regulations associated with 20mph limits and zones meaning that, in many cases, schemes can be implemented with less signs and traffic calming measures than before.
Guidance from the Department for Transport (DfT) makes it clear however, that there must be a robust cost-benefit case for any 20mph limit proposal and that the limits can be considered for residential roads in cities, towns and villages where through traffic is low, the community supports the move and the streets are being used by pedestrians and cyclists.
Councillor Kendal commented: "I can see the benefits that this could bring to residential areas and, in turn, the local and wider community as more residential roads are restricted to 20mph speeds but, given speed enforcement of 20mph limits is likely to be a low priorty for the police, its success will depend on local residents and it will be important that there are opportunities for them to be involved from the start, with a view to them taking some ownership of the scheme in their area. This would be very much in keeping with Government thinking under the Localism Act."
Although 20mph limits have been a long standing priority for the County Council, to date the costs associated with introducing 20mph speed limits and zones, has led to priority being given to locations where there is a history of accidents resulting in injury.
The changes introduced by the DfT make it possible to potentially bring in lower cost 20mph speed restrictions to more residential areas, with less focus placed on an area's accident history. The changes include allowing speed limit symbols to be painted on roads more often as repeater signs in 20mph zones. This gives greater flexibility to reduce the costs of implementing the speed limit.
Additionally the range of specified traffic calming measures permitted has been expanded to include repeater signs and mini-roundabouts, reducing the need for road humps or chicanes in many cases.
It is proposed that £200,000 is set aside to progress a pilot scheme, including selection of the five locations to be included in the pilot. If the proposal is agreed, a list of potential locations will be prepared and these will be assessed for suitability, alongside areas that have been identified through town access plans.