Monday, 22 April 2013

20’s Plenty for Us Welcomes Overhaul of UK Speed Signage Rules

The Department for Transport are changing traffic sign regulations. Fewer repeater speed limit signs would make wide 20mph limit implementation cheaper. Even more places are expected to agree to 20mph limits for their communities.

On 16th April at the Traffex conference, Graham Hanson, DfT Head of Traffic signs policy announced a “radical overhaul” of legislation. Plans include significantly reducing ‘repeater signage’. Local authorities could have sole discretion over signing speed limit changes and intervals. Changes will be consulted on shortly. Laws would alter in March 2015.

Due to the success and popularity of wide-area 20mph limits which are now normal in so many of our cities(1) 20’s Plenty for Us have been calling on DfT to recognize the ‘transition’ phase. The UK is moving from the old default of 30mph set in 1934 to slower speeds. 20mph should be accepted as the appropriate limit for most residential streets and where there are high numbers of vulnerable road users.

20mph is prominent in the DfT’s Setting Local Speed Limits Guidance from January 2013 where Local Authorities are reminded of a ‘priority for action’:-

“Traffic authorities are asked to keep their speed limits under review with changing circumstances, and to consider the introduction of more 20 mph limits and zones, over time, in urban areas and built-up village streets that are primarily residential, to ensure greater safety for pedestrians and cyclists….”

A major cost element of 20mph limits is currently repeater signs. 20’s Plenty for Us say these are superfluous since most government organisations recognise 20mph limits as best practice for most roads. It makes sense to let local authorities sign a 20mph default – eg York is a 20mph city unless otherwise stated - and use repeater signs only on 30mph roads and above (2). In Portsmouth 94% of roads are 20mph. Changes will mean hundreds fewer signs for new 20mph places with significantly reduced costs and visual clutter.

Rod King, Founder and Campaign Director of 20’s Plenty for Us commented :-

“This is a triumph of common sense. It would cut 20mph limit costs. With recent more flexible mixing of zones and limits, easing of Traffic Regulation Order red tape and recommendations within latest guidance on wide-area 20mph limits, we expect near universal adoption of 20mph limits for residential roads. A tipping point will be reached when the de-facto standard national speed limit will be 20mph. International observers have seen how the UK is taking a ‘progressive and pragmatic’ route to the implementation of 20mph limits for residential roads. Fewer repeater signs is another important milestone.”

1 Bristol, Bath, York, Oxford, Cambridge, Brighton & Hove, Newcastle, Liverpool, Islington, Camden, Lancashire, Warrington, Wigan, Portsmouth.

2 Current regulations require any speed limit other than the ‘national’ limits of 30mph and 60mph to have regular repeater signs.

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