Friday, 16 May 2014

Rat running made worse by 20mph zones . . .

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Rat running made worse by 20mph zones

Cited at:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/10834659/Rat-running-made-worse-by-20mph-zones.html


Councils have been advised several times by ministers to consider introducing 20mph limits next to schools and on other roads heavily used by cyclists and pedestrians Blanket 20mph zones appearing in towns and cities across Britain can make the problem of ‘rat runs’ worse, the president of the AA has claimed.

Councils have been advised several times by ministers to consider introducing 20mph limits next to schools and on other roads heavily used by cyclists and pedestrians, with the latest guidance issued last year.

But motoring groups are becoming increasingly concerned by the widespread appearance of the speed restriction on entire networks of roads, often in town or city centres.

As well as unnecessarily slowing the progress of traffic through busy areas, the restrictions can encourage make residential streets even busier by encouraging drivers off the main roads, they claim.

Edmund King, president of the AA, said it is “generally accepted” that speed limits are needed on certain individual roads for safety reasons, for example outside schools and hospitals, but blanket restrictions can cause a new problem by diverting more traffic into residential areas.

“Neighbourhoods face differing challenges from traffic: some may need to slow down their own residents and reduce the risk of accidents, others have a ‘rat-running’ problem that a 20mph speed limit on its own won’t address,” he explained.

“If a blanket 20mph zone sets main roads at the lower speed, the incentive to stick to main routes and not take a short cut along residential streets is lost.”

A new poll of AA members found that more than two thirds believe residents should be consulted before 20mph limits are imposed on their street, while more than half said those in neighbouring streets should have a say.

Councils should limit the use of speed limits to the highest-risk areas while using other restrictions, such as chicanes or flat-topped speed bumps, to discourage rat-runners on residential streets, the AA said.

The survey also found that 41 per cent of AA members agreed with the use of speed cameras to enforce 20mph limits, rising to 61 per cent in areas where a specific problem has been identified.

“There is a lot of fear among drivers that, with 20mph being a relatively unfamiliar speed, widespread speed camera use will make them look more at their speedometers than at what is happening on populated streets in front of them," Mr King said.

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