After 3 years of discord and negotiating Brighton came to an end in January and drivers in Brighton and Hove are starting to notice the outcome. The Transport Committee has approved a phased introduction of 20mph speed limits for residential and shopping streets in the city.
Local taxi drivers feared passengers would think they were deliberately increasing fares by driving at a slow pace and lobbied the Transport Committee. The GMB professional drivers also have some reservations about the scheme. Mick Hidreth, the GMB’s national organising secretary said that while they supported any attempts to improve road safety: “To put in a total 20mph limit on the whole city 24 hours a day will have an adverse effect on our members especially in the evening when there is no traffic about.”
The minority Green Party-led council scheme will cost up to 1.5 million pounds and, once completed, will be one of the most comprehensive road schemes in the UK. Only major roads that lead in or out of the city will be exempt from the scheme and keep their 30mph speed limit.
Other cities beginning to introduce a limit of 20mph in their centres are Bristol, Liverpool, Oxford, York, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. Some boroughs of London will also participate in plans of lowering the speed limit.
Driving around Brighton and Hove you will have noticed the new lower speed limit starting to be enforced around Sackville Road and Old Shoreham Road and spreading out from there in the Phase 1 area [http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/downloads/bhcc/transport/2012.11.27_-_20mph_-_Phase_1.pdf]. Signs, road markings and poles will be popping up over a period of 4 to 6 weeks although the new limit will not become legally enforceable in that time period.
Brighton and Hove Council hope the programme will improve the street environment for all road users and reduce the number and severity of collisions and casualties on the road. The hope is that safer roads will encourage more cycling and walking for shorter trips in the city centre. Thereby reducing congestion and fumes.
Green Councillor and chair of the Transport Committee Ian Davey commented that: “We are delighted this important scheme has been given the green light. I am mindful of taxi drivers’ concerns but in reality any increase in journey times is likely to be minimal and we need to balance them against the significant road safety benefits we hope this will bring across the city.”
Driving as such a pace gives new learners more time to make decisions as they approach any complicated or unfamiliar situations on the road. Low speeds also mean smaller fuel consumption so the 20mph limit will also be more economical.
The council plan to make the new lower speed limit enforceable in April 2013.