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Tonbridge to implement town-wide 20mph speed limit to encourage more cycling

MP backs temporary measures which may become permanent

Tonbridge is to impose a town-wide 20mph speed limit in a bid to encourage active travel. The Kent town will initially implement measures temporarily, but it is hoped the changes will reduce congestion and air pollution and ultimately be made permanent.

The changes are being made thanks to emergency active travel funding from the Government and will be introduced through an Experimental Traffic Order, which will involve changing the speed zone before monitoring the impact.

Kent County Council (KCC) said it would run a consultation before making the 20mph limit permanent. It says studies have previously shown that 20mph zones increase walking and cycling levels by about a fifth.

Tonbridge county councillor Michael Payne said: "As part of the Emergency Active Travel Fund from the Government, I am delighted that we have successfully made the case within Kent County Council for part of the £1.6million funding from the first tranche to be spent on a town-wide 20mph zone in Tonbridge.

"This should benefit cyclists and walkers alike, as well as making our roads safer for residents and all road users.

"As Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport I have long campaigned for safer roads in Kent. Reducing speeds to 20mph should be one of the best ways to achieve this locally in Tonbridge."

Tom Tugendhat, the Conservative MP for Tonbridge and Malling, backed the plan.

"Achieving a town-wide 20mph zone in Tonbridge is what many want," he said.

"Those of us with young children, with difficulty getting around, or who just like to wander down a safer road, welcome this change.

"As more of us choose to cycle it will help reduce speeding and make more people confident to leave cars and buses and take to two wheels."

Earlier this month, the Welsh Senedd backed plans to make 20mph the default speed limits in residential areas in Wales.

In response to this, South Wales East Senedd member David Rowlands, from the Brexit Party, somewhat facetiously argued that the only way injuries and deaths on the roads could be eliminated would be "for us all to return to walking."

"This constant reduction in speed could be applied to our motorways,” he said. “A 30mph speed limit on these would save far more lives."

Deputy transport minister Lee Waters cited a Welsh Government report which found that even a 1% drop in average speeds was likely to bring about a 6% drop in casualties.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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David9694 | 3 years ago

Great  - other towns please copy. 

dog_film | 3 years ago

Only works if it is enforced.

Adrian Berendt replied to dog_film | 3 years ago

Enforcement definitely needed.  In the short term this includes Community Speedwatch, which is effective.  In the longer term, mandatory ISA and black boxes in new cars from 2022 will mean greater compliance.  It's even more reason to implement lower speed limits now, so that ISA helps people to drive at an appropriate speed where people and motor vehicles mix.      

hawkinspeter replied to Adrian Berendt | 3 years ago

Adrian Berendt wrote:

Enforcement definitely needed.  In the short term this includes Community Speedwatch, which is effective.  In the longer term, mandatory ISA and black boxes in new cars from 2022 will mean greater compliance.  It's even more reason to implement lower speed limits now, so that ISA helps people to drive at an appropriate speed where people and motor vehicles mix.      

Great, so now we'll have to listen to "Ride on Time" blaring out of all the car windows. Personally, I prefer the original Love Sensation.

oldmixte | 3 years ago

Rospa on 20 mph speed limits, an interesting report.


20mph limits are most appropriate for roads where average speeds are already low, below 24mph, and the layout and use of the road also gives the clear impression that a 20mph speed or below is the most
Although a high proportion of urban roads are suitable for 20mph limits, RoSPA does not believe that 20mph speed limits are suitable for every road in a local authority area. They should be targeted at roads that are
primarily residential in nature and on town or city streets where pedestrian and cyclist movements are high (or potentially high), such as around schools, shops, markets, playgrounds and other areas. Roads which are not suitable for 20mph limits are major through routes.

Adrian Berendt replied to oldmixte | 3 years ago

Take care with the RoSPA report - there are lots of errors.  I have pointed these out to RoSPA on more than one occasion and they produced a new briefing in February 2020, but it's still wrong 

E.g., it quotes an old report highlighting the  fatality risk of "2.5% at 20mph and 20% at 30mph (8x)", but the latest studies generally quote 10% and 50% (5x).  Either way, the risk of a pedestrian dying in a collision at 30mph is a multiple of the risk at 20mph. 

It's also completely wrong about the difference between 20mph speed limits and 20ph zones.  In practice, there's almost no difference these days

The passage you quote refers to the 1999 law change.  The current consensus from public health and road safety organisations is that 20mph is the right speed where people and motor vehicles mix (e.g. the Stockholm Declaration signed by the UK Government, amongst other in February 2020).  The current speed on a particular road doesn't determine the appropriate speed limit, but rather shows the amount of intervention needed to bring speeds down to appropriate levels.

The RoSPA statement about which streets should be 20mph does NOT mean excluding major through routes.  The DfT guidance is that 20mph should be implemented on residential streets, town and village centres etc AND on major roads, where there are (or could be) lots of pedestrians and cyclists.

The quote from the DfT guidance is:

1) major streets where there are – or could be - significant numbers of journeys on foot, and/or where pedal cycle movements are an important consideration, and this outweighs the disadvantage of longer journey times for motorised traffic.

This is in addition to:

2) residential streets in cities, towns and villages, particularly where the streets are being used by people on foot and on bicycles, there is community support and the characteristics of the street are suitable.

Hope that helps...


lesterama replied to oldmixte | 3 years ago
1 like

Luckily the A21 bypasses Tonbridge High St nowadays, so that is a good start

HiFi | 3 years ago

Although much larger Edinburgh is 20mph, has been for a couple of years, and it works. Drivers take about a year to recalibrate, they're very much creatures of habit, but it just takes a few early adopters to get in their way and they're forced into it.

Bob's Bikes | 3 years ago

In other news Tonbridge council tax payers will be forking out a lot of money for speed limit signs knowing full well that the speed limits will not actually be policed let alone be enforced.

Bmblbzzz replied to Bob's Bikes | 3 years ago

You'd need to ask the local police about that. The good news is that even without enforcement, experience of other towns shows that lowering the speed limit does reduce traffic speeds.

I love my bike replied to Bmblbzzz | 3 years ago

If you Google 'Vehicle Speed Compliance Statistics, Great Britain: 2017' you will find UK.Gov statistics showng speed limit compliance is poor.

LetsBePartOfThe... replied to I love my bike | 3 years ago

Maybe they should go for a 10mph limit then ( to achieve compliance to 20mph )    1

paulrbarnard replied to I love my bike | 3 years ago

Still 10mph over a 20 limit is way better than 10mph over a 30 limit.
It would be great if people were penalised more regularly for speeding as people seem incapable of policing themselves. Is it selfishness or stupidity?

Adrian Berendt replied to I love my bike | 3 years ago
1 like

Small caveat.  For 20mph, as there are only 9 sites, none of which are typical of 20mph streets, the data is not very reliable. Places that have introduced 20mph speed limits do see lower speeds and the reductions are greatest on roads which were previously faster.  E.g. where average speeds were previously near 20mph, speeds reduce by 1 to 2 mph - not huge, but still significant.  On faster roads average speeds fall more.  E.g. in Bristol and Portsmouth, they fell by more 6-7mph        

Adrian Berendt replied to Bob's Bikes | 3 years ago
1 like

The scheme is not costing Tonbridge council tax payers anything.  It's being funded from the Government's Emergency Active Travel Fund.  Although speed limits are policed, reduced funding for police forces has meant less enforcement, and more funding for enforcement is needed.    Having said that, even without active enforcement, average speed do reduce when 20mph speed limits are introduced. 

HarrogateSpa | 3 years ago

Well done Tonbridge, enlightened thinking.

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