Consultation on 20MPH Limit for Most North Cambridge Streets

Friday, July 5th, 2013. 4:17pm

20 MPH Limit Signage Proposed

Example of 20 MPH limit signage proposed in consultation

Cambridge City Council are consulting on a 20MPH speed limit for most streets in North Cambridge.

My Response

I want to see Cambridge’s roads made safer, particularly for cyclists and pedestrians. I do not however think that the proposed 20 MPH zone scheme is the best use of resources. I am concerned that councillors, and their officers are proposing something they see as an easy way of being seen to do something.

I would rather see:

  • A focus on enforcement against careless and dangerous road users, for example those driving while using mobile phones and cyclists without lights cycling on main roads in the dark.
  • Improving safety, and encouraging cycling, at specific junctions; such as the Carlyle Road to Jesus Lock crossing where cyclists and pedestrians need to be able to cross Chesterton Road more easily; Milton Road / Arbury Road junction where allowing cyclists to move during the pedestrian all stop phase would be helpful, and the Green End Road / Green End Road junction.
  • Maintenance of existing infrastructure such as markings and signage, particularly for shared use cycle paths which has been allowed to deteriorate across North Cambridge.
  • Where 20 Limits are put in; I would like this to be associated with significant changes to the road environment, the aim being to reduce speeds without the need for enforcement and to emphasise the need to drive with particular care in the area. Rather than a blanket 20 limit, I would like to see focused changes to the environment of roads such as perhaps Chesterton Road from Victoria Avenue to Hertford Street being made a “park road”, painted red, and priority given to cyclists and pedestrians. I am disappointed this area has been excluded from the considerations for a 20 MPH limit due to the historical designation of the road as an “A” road. Similarly I would like to see a focus on dramatically changing the feel of Chesterton High Street, deterring, and slowing traffic there, and having the effect of improving the environment there, than diluting effort and just dotting signs across a wider area

Disproportionate Impact Following Enforcement

My primary concern in relation to new 20 MPH limits is disproportionate impact on people following enforcement of a new limit. Many rely on their cars and losing a licence can have a massive impact on people’s freedom and ability to work. I am concerned that we will see people losing their licences having done something which is not particularly dangerous such as drive down Gilbert Road at 23 MPH a few times.

I would like to see the position to be taken by local magistrates in relation to enforcement presented to, and considered by, councillors prior to a decision being taken.

I note the West/Central Area Committee resolved to write to the Police and Crime Commissioner about 20 MPH limit enforcement. I think this correspondence ought be put to councillors making the North Area 20 MPH.

The West/Central Area Committee has flip-flopped on the idea of a local speed awareness course to be offered to those breaking the 20MPH limit. I think it would be unfair to institute a local scheme which visitors to would be required to return to the city to benefit from; I think any such scheme ought be national, as I understand it now is in relation to offences in relation to other speed limits.

If funds are to be spend on a “just signs” approach to installing 20 MPH limits I think there needs to be clear assurances from the police and courts that the proposals are sufficient to enable fair enforcement so that the experiences from elsewhere in the city where the police have judged signage to be legal but insufficient to fairly enforce in relation to does not recur.

Specific Questions

I responded to the specific questions in the consultation to say:

  • I disagree in principle with 20MPH limits on residential and shopping roads in Cambridge.
  • I disagree with installing the proposed 20MPH limit on the North Cambridge roads specified in the consultation
  • I disagree with a 20 Limit for Arbury Road, Gilbert Road, Green End Road and Kings Hedges Road.
  • I support a 20 limit for Chesterton High Street, but would prefer it was installed with a significant change to the road environment aimed at reducing speeds rather than just putting up signs.

How I Use Roads

The online survey asked a odd question of how I use roads. I responded:

I live in Cambridge so use the roads to travel on.

Any travel I do starting at home, be it on foot, by bike, driving or being driven involves use of the roads.

On the Consultation

I would have rather seen the consultation run in a more discursive manner, with responses published online as they came in, enabling more of a debate. Views of councillors, and key organisations such as the police, could have been sought early on.

Speeds have Increased When 20MPH Signs Only Installed

Previous experience in Cambridge has shown speeds have increased when 20 MPH signage is introduced without changes to the road environment.

Some of my previous articles on the subject of 20mph speed limits:

4 comments/updates on “Consultation on 20MPH Limit for Most North Cambridge Streets

  1. Richard Taylor Article author

    The consultation results are being presented to Cambridge City Council’s Environment Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday, 8th October:

    Only responses to the specific questions are summarised in the report; other contributions appear to be ignored.

    There is nothing in the report from Magistrates. While the police have responded there is nothing on details of enforcement, specifically if there are plans to offer speed awareness courses.

  2. Richard Taylor Article author

    I observed the Cambridge City Council Environment Scrutiny Committee on the 8th of October 2013 where approval was given for the go-ahead on the scheme; with additional consideration, separately, of a 20 MPH limit for Victoria Road.

    I used the public speaking slot to make some of the points I’d made in my consultation response, but which didn’t make the report summarising the responses.

    I asked about speed awareness course arrangements but councillors were not able to tell me about those.

    I also suggested Chesterton Road / Chesterton Lane along the river Cam opposite Jesus Green be considered together with Victoria Road on the grounds traffic following the inner ring road around the city will use one or the other so they need to be considered together. I noted the busy cycle and pedestrian route crossing from Carlyle Road to Jesus Green and suggested this area would be a good one for safety improvements. I’ve made this suggestion before a number of times and have tried to keep the area on the list of places where councillors are considering safety improvement schemes. I’ve also suggested seeking to deter traffic from this stretch of Chesterton Road / Lane by giving it a “park road” feel; integrating it better with the riverbank and Jesus Green.

    Cllr Ward said Chesterton Road / Lane would not be considered for 20 MPH as there were not lots of consultation responses suggesting it. My view is this is not a sensible response as the consultation stated that as an A road it wasn’t eligible for consideration; and also there are relatively few permanent residents of the stretch of road in question (there are university halls, a private student hall, a hotel, an office block, and even some of the houses are college accommodation) which might be expected to result in few consultation responses. I think the Liberal Democrats pay too much attention to the views of immediate local residents when they should be, as in this case, thinking more strategically. Those using, and crossing, the road come from a much wider area.

    I think our councillors often wrongly treat consultations as referenda; it shouldn’t matter if a good idea comes in as a result of a consultation from one person or many.

  3. Richard Taylor Article author

    Cambridge Cycling Campaign also spoke on enforcement at the Cambridge City Council Environment Scrutiny Committee on the 8th of October 2013:

    Following the statement by Cambridge Cycling Campaign Cllr Ward said he thought the 20 MPH zone was a good value for money way of getting more people cycling; noting the cost of the scheme was only that which had been spent elsewhere on individual junctions.

    I also recorded councillors’ deliberation and unanimous vote in favour of going ahead with the project:

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