We have waited some time for an update on the policy around road speeds in Cheshire East. Obviously the pandemic has slowed local government but now we have a draft policy to consider and are being consulted on – yes, you have until January 31 2022 to respond so click here:
Rather than cover the whole document in detail I intend to focus on the proposals for the introduction of 20 mph limits and zones as they would affect Bunbury significantly if implemented. Just to clarify, a limit is a sign with the mandatory speed displayed, while a zone is an area within which a given speed limit is uniformly applied. So limits might apply to a stretch of road while a zone would cover several linked streets, etc.
First, the document has little to say about rural areas or villages. It is very urban focussed. The definition of rural is ‘everywhere outside the urban are.’ (Glossary of Terms page 32). The term ‘village’ occurs 8 time in the document but that exaggerates the level of discussion involved.
The purpose of the Speed Management Strategy (SMS) is twofold:
- Provide a safe highway network and
- One that promotes ‘active travel’ – (walking and cycling)
This is to be achieved through:
- Education – changing behaviour
What are the criteria for the implementation of 20 mph zones/limits?
- The potential for active travel. They suggest that putting in a 20 mph area can be a means of encourageing more walking and cycling. However, the example they give is a … residential areas surrounding town centres with a high person movement value in the movement framework.
What does that mean? How do you judge ‘person movement value..‘
Where there is evidence of lots of people walking. Special consideration where pavements are narrow and one hopes where they are missing altogether.
Are they close to the road creating a visual narrowing or set back with gardens in front? Schools need traffic to drive slowly. Community facilities – village hall churches and shops all create greater footfall and the potential for more traffic/pedestrian ‘interaction’.
4. Traffic Speed
This section more or less states that if the mean traffic speed is close to the existing speed limit e.g. 30 mph, then there is no point in doing anything. The traffic must be travelling at 24 mph or less before it is suitable for a 20 mph limit! You might be able to use traffic calming (engineering) if the mean speed doesn’t exceed 28 mph.