Monday, 04 July 2022

Finally, villagers get wish for 20mph speed limit

Finally, villagers get wish for 20mph speed limit

WHITCHURCH has become a 20mph zone after more than 10 years of campaigning.

The limit applies to all the roads in the village centre, including High Street, Eastfield Lane, Manor Road and the section of Hardwick Road before the village entrance sign.

The parish council has been asking Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, to reduce the 30mph limit for years, citing pedestrian safety.

Residents have also backed it, with 90 per cent of respondents voting in favour as part of the 2019 village plan.

The county council finally agreed and spent about £5,000 on introducing the scheme, including the cost of a public consultation and
signage.

On Friday, councillors performed a ribbon-cutting ceremony by the entrance to Whitchurch by the toll bridge as the new speed limit came into force. Jim Donahue, who chairs the parish council, said: “The need to reduce speeding in the village is a key issue for the community that was first highlighted in our 2009 village plan and again in the 2019 village plan.

“It is only in recent months that a change of highway policy has enabled us to gain approval for this change after more than 10 years of requesting it.

“We understand that we are one of the first villages where this change has been implemented ahead of the broader initiative to roll out 20mph across the county.

“We also understand that we are the first village to get the speed limit changed across all streets in the community.” Councillor Donahue said the primary reason for reducing the speed limit was pedestrian safety.

He said: “We have a school in the village and a lot of parents have to walk across High Street or park on Hardwick Road, which has a lot of people speeding down it.

“It is more convenient for people to walk in the village — we are a very active transport community with a lot of people using the
pavements.

“The reduced speed limit is especially important in a village like Whitchurch where it is used by so many drivers to access the river crossing every day. About 7,000 cars per week travel across the bridge.

“Our residents regularly walk over the bridge to shop in Pangbourne and parents and children are encouraged to walk for the school run so pedestrian safety is a real concern.

“The village is also popular with cyclists and walkers on the Thames Path.” Cllr Donahue said the 20mph speed limit should be achievable on the High Street where the median speed was already below 25mph but it might be more difficult to achieve at the Hardwick Road entrance to the village where it changes from the national speed limit of 60mph to 20mph.

He said: “We will continue to monitor the evidence. We are concerned that there might be a need for traffic-calming measures.

“We will do some traffic surveys and we will be working with Goring Heath Parish Council because it wants to try to reduce the speed between Whitchurch and Goring Heath up the hill from 40mph to 30mph.”

Cllr Donahue said the next project was to see whether it would be worth introducing residents-only parking as many people parked there before using the train or going shopping.

“We are looking at different options,” he said.

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