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Cutting rural speed limit to 40mph too costly, says Cumbria council

Cumbria County Council says bringing in 40mph speed limits to rural roads could be too costly – and clutter the countryside with signs.

Robert Betton photo
Robert Betton

The Department of Transport is consulting with local authorities and other interested bodies on new guidance which would restrict speed limits on A and B roads in country areas.

The lower limit – down from 60mph – has been welcomed by road safety campaigners and environmental groups, but the county highways authority voiced fears of how the new restrictions would be funded.

“There would be additional expense for extra signs, engineering for traffic calming measures and also enforcement in terms of speed cameras,” a council spokeswoman said.

“In this difficult economic climate we need to assess affordability and necessity before making any changes to highways restrictions.

“Our preference at this stage, as one of the largest rural road networks in the country, is to focus efforts on driver education as there’s simply too big a road network to try and enforce these types of restrictions.”

The spokeswoman added that extra road signs would also ‘carry the risk of too much clutter’ in scenic rural areas.

Ralph Smyth, senior transport campaigner for Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said the idea should be supported.

“Since the last speed limit guidance was published, deaths on rural roads have tragically increased from half of all road deaths to over two thirds. While the UK has made urban areas safer with the roll-out of 20 mph zones, we need to do something similar in the countryside.

“If we want to have an enviable safety record in our countryside, whether for drivers, dog walkers, cyclists, riders or wildlife, it’s time for 40 mph zones to become the norm on minor rural roads. We are delighted the Government has listened to us and is encouraging highway authorities to pilot these zones.”

Cumbria police declined to comment on the idea.

Meanwhile, an idea to introduce more 20mph zones in urban areas – also in the new government guidance – has been met with approval.

There are a number of the lower speed limit zones already in place in Cumbria, and the county council is in the process of introducing a scheme for Kingfisher Park, off Warwick Road, Carlisle.

Residents in the area had campaigned for three years for a 20 mph limit, with 150 signing a petition in favour.

Last month the council agreed to introduce the scheme at a cost of £1,600.

Robert Betton, councillor for Botcherby, applauded the residents who had fought for the 20 mph zone, and said he hoped the Government’s proposals could save other areas the same battle.

“These zones are very important both for people’s safety and because it makes it more enforceable if people are driving at speed,” he said.

Elsewhere in the county, residents in Haverigg have begun their own campaign for a 20 mph zone. It is being backed by pupils from Haverigg Primary School, who run a ‘20 is Plenty’ campaign

A spokeswoman for Cumbria County Council said: “Cumbria would welcome the approach that 20 mph speed limits/zones can be introduced if speeds are already at or below 24 mph without the need for additional traffic calming – this will reduce costs.”

Have your say

In reply to the comment about the aircraft doing 400m/p/h.

All air traffic is strictly controlled and is not allowed to exceed the speed or altitude that is instructed, so if the pilot felt that he or she could go faster because they felt it was appropriate and they were educated enough to handle the speed, they couldn't so it's really an argument for having speed limits that are not discretional.

Posted by Runway heading and all that on 27 July 2012 at 15:09

And who is going to police this?

Posted by RW on 26 July 2012 at 18:57

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