DfT makes it easier for councils to create 20mph zones

Norman Baker, the minister responsible for walking, cycling and local transport, has announced measures to reduce time-consuming and costly bureaucracy for councils wanting to use 20 mph schemes. The measures have been welcomed by road safety campaigners.

The rule changes by the Department for Transport, part of the Traffic Signs Policy Review, mean that councils can use signs painted on roads as an alternative to expensive upright signs, cutting street clutter as well as costs.

It will be cheaper and easier for councils to put in place variable speed limits outside schools when local residents want these schemes.

Baker said:

“If councils and local communities want to put in place 20 mph schemes on residential roads or use common-sense measures such as variable speed limits outside schools, then they should be able to do so without spending time and money satisfying unnecessary Whitehall diktats.

“These changes will reduce costs for councils wanting to use 20 mph schemes, allowing them to act faster in response to the needs of their local residents while still ensuring that drivers know what speed they should drive at.”

Many UK towns and cities have introduced 20mph signs but the key word is ‘zones’. 20mph zones are areas where a number of speed-reducing measures are put place, and is not just the installation of upright 20mph signs.

The changes announced by the DfT expand the list of specified traffic calming measures allowable in 20 mph zones to include repeater signs and mini-roundabouts. This would allow zones to be introduced with fewer road humps or chicanes where appropriate. These latter measures are disliked by motorists but are effective at slowing down some motorists (many 4WD vehicles power over speed humps)

Councils will now be able to request council-wide authorisations for measures to be used in 20 mph schemes without getting approval from Government in each case.

The Traffic Signs Policy Review is due to publish its final report later this summer.

Rod King, founder and director of the campaign group 20’s Plenty for Us, welcomed the DfT’s announcement:

“For some time we have been lobbying central government to ease the technical requirements for signage which was very much designed around earlier, isolated 20mph zones. This is an excellent example of how community values and aspirations across the country are nudging government to rethink its rules to enable that change to take place. Our campaign for 20mph speed limits as the default on residential roads has the support of the majority of the electorate.”

20’s Plenty For Us campaigns for a 20mph default speed limit in residential streets without physical calming.

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