Azara Blog: Cambridge speed limits set to drop

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Date published: 2005/06/10

The Cambridge Evening News says:

Cyclists are calling for a blanket 20mph speed limit to be imposed across Cambridge city centre.

The Cambridge Cycling Campaign is keen for a 20mph zone to be introduced from the centre of town to Chesterton Road in the north, Fen Causeway in the south, East Road in the east and Queen's Road in the west.

Cambridgeshire County Council has just announced a series of proposals to introduce more bollards and one-way streets in the city centre, and planners have also floated the possibility of a 20mph speed limit in Bridge Street, Emmanuel Street and Silver Street.

But the Cambridge Cycling Campaign wants to see 20pmh restrictions in place right across the historic centre.

James Woodburn from the Campaign says: "We have two problems with the County Council's proposal: The first is that their zone is too small. The second is that its boundary is jagged and complex.

"We believe that the limit is far more likely to be observed if its boundary is straightforward, coherent and easily remembered. We think that the County's criteria are out of line with current analysis and current national accident data and it is time for them to be reviewed."

But Richard Preston, the council's Cambridge Projects manager, said: "The Campaign's plans ignore the speed management policy of the Council.

"We have the same aspirations as the Campaign but it is not practical to bang down 20mph speed signs all over the city, especially in areas where traffic moves faster than that."

He said this would amount to blanket coverage and said the zones must be "self enforcing".

Mr Preston added: "We would like to expand but we do not have the money or resources at the moment, and neither do the police to enforce these measures. We also need to make sure the first scheme is working before we make plans to extend."

The current (so-called Stage 4) proposals suggest a 20 mph limit inside most of the so-called core area of Cambridge. There are few roads in this area where you could actually safely drive 30 mph in any case (most of the day). The Cambridge Cycling Campaign is a typical special interest pressure group which thinks the rest of society should cave in to their demands. If these cyclists are so useless that they cannot cope with current traffic on Queen's Road, Chesterton Road, etc., then perhaps they should not be on the road in the first place. Of course Preston rather gives the game away. The bureaucrats want to remove cars from the entire city and are making life more and more difficult for drivers as part of this game (except for taxis, because rich people are given a free pass in Cambridge). The bureaucrats will carry out this attack in stages because they have to justify their existence. Once they have finished with the core area they will turn their attention elsewhere.

Not surprisingly, these proposals (which cover much more than the suggested 20 mph speed limit) are undergoing another of the usual fatuous public consultations. This one comes complete with an even more idiotic set of questions than normal. Take question one, which is typical: "The proposals would reduce traffic levels: strongly agree; agree, disagree; strongly disagree". Well obviously the proposals are going to reduce traffic, they are closing off roads to cars. Needless to say the bureaucrats will take the obvious answer as support for their proposals, but it is no such thing. What the question should by saying is "The proposals would reduce traffic levels at an acceptable cost." And the calculated cost should include not only the cost of implementation but also the operational cost, and the latter should include the cost to the public (i.e. drivers) and not just the county (including keeping all these transport planners permanently hired by the county council). No where in the pamphlet being distributed is there any mention of cost. This is typical of the ridiculous poor level of public discourse in the UK. Just mention alleged benefits, never mention costs. That way you can "justify" anything you want (road closures, expensive drugs for free, small class sizes, etc.) without having to justify it.

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