Azara Blog: Cambridge city centre speed limits to be reduced to 20 mph

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Date published: 2005/04/20

The Cambridge Evening News says:

Streets in Cambridge city centre could become a 20mph zone under a plan to slow traffic down.

Roads including Downing Street, St Andrew's Street, Silver Street and King's Parade will be included in the 20mph zone if city residents give it the okay.

A joint committee of city and county councillors this week agreed to consult the public on the idea before making a decision.

Councillors and traffic chiefs have been talking behind closed doors for some time about having a low-speed zone in the city centre. A recent survey showed the average speed on most of the roads in the proposed zone was already close to 20mph.

It is hoped in time the zone would be widened to include all the streets in the centre of Cambridge.

City councillor Jenny Bailey, who is responsible for transport, said: "There have been a number of people pushing for it including the Cambridge Cycling Campaign and some of the shopkeepers.

"It will be a nice thing to have in the town centre because people can be tempted to race through. I don't think it will affect many people during peak time because the congestion keeps people down to 20mph anyway, but during off-peak times in the early morning and late evening it will stop dangerous speeding.

"I think residents will be in support of it. There are a few people with souped-up Fiestas who just try to see how fast they can go, but Cambridge streets are just not the place for that - they were never designed for cars."

Tennis Court Lane would have road humps as part of the scheme but traffic chiefs decided the rest of the roads would not need traffic-calming measures to ensure people keep their speeds down.

The public consultation will take place between May and July, with a final decision on whether to go ahead with the plan expected from councillors in October. The new speed limits would come into force next year if the public approved of them.

Coun Bailey added: "It has to be self-policing because the police do not have the resources to enforce it. However, if there is a place where we get a lot of complaints then we would ask the police to come down with a mobile speed camera.

The usual silly comments from Bailey. Why should the Cambridge Cycling Campaign (a small minority) be deciding policy for Cambridge yet again? The idea that a few "souped-up Fiestas" are destroying life in Cambridge because they are going 30 mph when there is no traffic around is a joke. Fortunately in this case there is nothing wrong per se with a 20 mph speed limit, and most people already stick to that because most people drive at a safe speed rather than at a speed limit, as even Bailey seems to recognise. Some of the worst offenders are not private motorists, but taxis (and sometimes buses) careering down Silver Street during the middle of the day (when the road is closed to private cars). Of course the LibDem Cambridge councillors only hate private cars, so that is always going to bias their remarks.

The worst thing about this whole episode is that local government is going to waste money yet again on a fatuous "public consultation". Needless to say the cyclists, and other car haters in the chattering classes, will be over-represented in the response, but since the people who run this town are all in the chattering class they of course want this bias to exist so their prejudice can be reaffirmed by their fellow travellers. Blessed be the day when Blair resigns so that the people of Cambridge can kick the LibDems out of power in the city.

On the other hand, maybe it is just as well that local government is going to spend a lot of time and effort on this proposal. It means they have less time to spend on doing even more damage elsewhere (the normal course of events).

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