Measures to reduce time-consuming and costly bureaucracy for councils wanting to use 20 mph schemes were announced recently by Regional and Local Transport Minister Norman Baker.
This is a good move – not enough in my view but it is in the correct direction. The main changes are: expanding 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; and, allowing local government to use speed limit symbols painted on roads more often as repeater signs in 20 mph zones and limits. Upright signs will still be required to indicate the start and end of 20 mph schemes.
I think that each level of government should be able to set the speed limits for their own roads; the proviso being that drivers should be able to know what the speed limit is.
Norman Baker says that city and county government will now be able to request council-wide authorisations for these measures to be used in 20 mph schemes on residential roads where cost-benefit analysis has shown that such schemes would be worthwhile. This will mean that councils can apply these measures without getting approval from the national government in each case.
So despite the coalition’s rhetoric about decision making going to the local level. The national government still retains the final approval.
The national government wants cost-benefit analysis to be used to give them assurance that at least some thought has been given too proposals. Reduced singage is welcome too. However, the ETA has for years – since it invented the 20’s Plenty Campaign in the nineties – said that the speed limit for a road with no white marking is 20mph and therefore no signs are needed.