In Cambridge City Centre a 20 MPH speed limit now applies to all roads, apart from Victoria Avenue, within an area bound by the inner ring road (East Road though Lensfield Road to Fen Causeway) and the River Cam. The inner ring road itsself retains a 30MPH limit. The Cambridge Historic Centre (20 MPH Speed Limit) Order 2010 imposing the new “zone” came into force on the 12th of April 2010. Despite it now being four months after the order, signage marking the area has only gone up in the last week or so and is currently being tweaked.
At the West Central Area Committee on the 26th of August 2010 the County Councillor for most of the area covered, Liberal Democrat Sarah Whitebread, proposed adding a new policing priority to get the police to enforce the new speed limits.
Police Sergeant Jane Drury looked worried when this suggestion was made. She turned to her boss, Inspector Steve Kerridge, and said:
Sorry to put you on the spot Sir, but we’re not enforcing it yet are we?
While waiting for the Inspector to gather his thoughts and stand up the Sergeant expanded her comment saying:
I am under the impression the new 20MPH limits are a trial and we’re not enforcing it because if we enforce it we don’t know if the signage alone is sufficient or if we need to enforce.”
When Inspector Kerridge spoke he waffled a lot about the fact enforcement of 20MPH speed limits had been discussed a lot at area committee meetings, but he didn’t deny what his Sergeant had told councillors and the public. He appeared not to be completely ruling out enforcement action should councillors make it a priority, saying there were approaches which could be taken.
Following the police’s statement that they were not enforcing the new limits as part of the “trial” Cllr Whitebread failed to get support from any of her her fellow councillors and enforcing the new 20 MPH limit was not set as a police priority.
No councillors questioned if publicly stating the new zones were not going to be enforced by the police was part of the plan, or might change drivers’ behaviour.
During the open forum a member of the public, Andrea Ryan, spoke to suggest better signage of the 20MPH “zone” where it starts at the city end of Victoria Avenue; she told the committee the signs were too close to the roundabout at a point where drivers would be concentrating on dealing with the roundabout. She asked councillors to consider prioritising enforcing the speed limit, especially in relation to buses, on Short Street and Emmanuel Road.
County Officer Mr Preston spoke to say the signage complied with regulations.
Cllr Hipkin asked for more information on the police’s view of enforcement. The inspector told the committee that the East Area had raised it as a priority and said that in that area “we are currently having discussions with them regarding speedwatch and traditional options available to us”.
Cllr Whitebread asked about busses, particularly on Maid’s Causeway. The police inspector responded to say they had a good relationship with Stagecoach. Cllr Whitebread asked if Stagecoach had educated their drivers about the change; the answer to this question wasn’t known.
A County Council officer who introduced himself as the “Park and Ride Manager” said that he had staff undertaking speed checks and they had spent twenty days monitoring Maid’s Causeway and Trumpington Street.
Member of the public Mr Lawton spoke to compare the city’s 20 MPH signs with the kind of speed limit signs seen elsewhere. He noted the 30MPH limit in Histon was signed with the speed limit signs mounted on large bright yellow rectangles. He suggested the county council had been “rather grudging with the profile given to the new limits”.
The Leader of the Council, Liberal Democrat Sian Reid told the committee she hadn’t seen the signs in question (by which I believe she meant the 20 MPH limit signs at the Maid’s Causeway / Victoria Avenue roundabout). She added that she had been campaigning against the proliferation of signs, and defended the county council who she said were treading a fine line [between signing the area and introducing clutter]. Cllr Reid then made a really bizarre contribution to the debate she said:
I’m not sure signs work. I’m not sure people see information and obey it.
Cllr Reid didn’t offer any suggestion of how she expected drivers to learn of speed limits which were in-force if not through signs. If what she was saying was a clunky way of suggesting speed reduction in the City Centre ought not be by speed limits at all, but though changes to the road environment to discourage speeding, then I would agree with her entirely.
Tackling Speeding Buses
In a section of the meeting discussing air quality in Cambridge, County Council officers reported they were actively doing speed checks on buses every week. They said that they obtained details of many buses going at 25 MPH and the fastest one they’d got was going at 29 MPH (Presumably in the new 20 “zone”). They then reported these instances to the bus operators, who they said disciplined drivers.
As there is no joined up government, and the City Council is responsible for licensing taxis whereas the county regulates buses, it appears the county officers take no action with respect to speeding taxis.
- Enforcement of the previous 20 MPH limits in the city centre
- Police obtain equipment to enforce 20 MPH zones (after resisting councillors’ attempts to get them to enforce the old 20 MPH limits).
- Councillors ask police to tackle speeding
- Debating a blanket 20 MPH limit for residential streets.