Speed Limits in Town Centres

Since returning from a holiday in the US, the most striking thing to notice is the proliferation of 20mph signs throughout Oxford. Many minor streets have been made 20mph zone. As discussed in a previous post (20 mph speed limits) I’m generally in favour of this policy and I’d like to see it extended to other roads within the ring road.

As expected, it hasn’t made that much difference as drivers don’t seem to follow the rule. The local paper took a speed gun to one road with a new 20mph limit and found 90% were exceeding 20mph. 50% exceeding 25mph (when prosecutions can start) and a significant proportion exceeding old 30mph speed limit. The fastest recorded car was doing 41mph.

Cyclists have a reputation for riding through pedestrian lights when they are red, but, I’m sure the % is not as high as 90%. Also, in terms of relative danger cycling through a red light when no one is there, is not in the same league as doing 41mph through a built up area.

Lower speed limits do help to reduce fatalities and serious accidents, but, the difficulty is that it is not enough to put up a few 20mph signs there needs to be some kind of enforcement. Enforcement that penalises those doing 40mph much more than those just over 25mph.

Maybe over time, speeds will reduce, it will be interesting to see. Perhaps 20mph zones will become far more common over time. I think if enforced it would encourage more people to cycle, especially young children.



See also: 20mph speed limits

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