Tuesday, 09 August 2022

20mph speed limit would cut congestion and help air quality

A SPEED limit of 20mph could be introduced across Henley.

The town council is set to agree to spend £30,000 on implementing the scheme, including a public consultation exercise.

Members have been pushing for years for a lower speed limit in addition to the 20mph zone already in place in Market Place.

The council’s transport strategy group says it would help ease traffic congestion and improve air quality.

Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, has no funding available so the project would be funded from the town council’s transport strategy budget and contributions from developers.

The £30,000 would cover the cost of the consultation, signage and the necessary traffic regulation order.

A report to the council’s town and community committee said: “The installation of a town-wide 20mph speed limit would improve safety but also keep traffic in the town moving as slow-moving traffic equals less stop time.

“20mph zones are designed to be ‘self-enforcing’ due to traffic-calming measures which are introduced along with the change in the speed limit. Speed humps, chicanes, road narrowing, planting and other measures are typically used to both physically and visually reinforce the shared nature of the road.

“20mph limits are most appropriate for roads where average speeds are already low and the guidance suggests below 24mph.”

Deputy Mayor Will Hamilton said: “We should jump on this and make it work. The idea is to have moving traffic rather than stationary traffic. If traffic is at 20mph it will move at a constant speed.”

Councillor Ian Reissmann said: “It’s the right thing to do and we should take the opportunity while the county council is on side to go ahead and do it.”

But Councillor Simon Smith said: “It’s a waste of money to me. The majority of traffic does not travel over 20mph anyway. Who is actually going to enforce that limit?”

He asked for statistics on the number of pedestrians that had been knocked over by vehicles. Cllr Reissmann replied that there had been three deaths in the early 2000s but none since.

He added: “To say it’s not policed is untrue and it also makes a rather negative assumption about people that nobody takes notice of speed limits unless they are going to get caught. The majority of people are law-abiding.”

Councillor David Nimmo Smith, who is also the county council’s cabinet member for transport, said most of the money would go on signs.

“Some of the roads can be left as they are, some of them might have to have things done to them,” he added.

The transport strategy group has suggested a range of other measures, including the removal of street furniture such as road signs and a “kill your engine, not your neighbour” campaign.

The committee agreed to allocate £30,000 from the transport strategy budget but this requires the approval of the finance strategy and management committee.

Once the funding is in place, the county council will be asked to carry out the consultation and, if the community approves, to implement the traffic regulation order.

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