Call for 20mph speed limits across district wins council support

The 20's Plenty campaign aims to reduce the speed of roads across Hertfordshire, including St Albans

The 20's Plenty campaign aims to reduce the speed of roads across Hertfordshire, including St Albans, from 30mph from 20mph. Picture: Colin Hodges - Credit: Colin Hodges

New schemes to transform cycling and walking in central St Albans could see the creation of a dedicated cycleway, extended 20mph speed limits and changes to how vehicles access some residential streets.

The proposals reflect the grassroots support for change to transport, as highlighted by the creation of groups like 20's Plenty for St Albans District, which wants the speed to become the default limit.

This week SADC unanimously passed a motion calling on County Hall to prioritise 20mph speed limits across the district, and for both councils to work on detailed plans on the scope, funding and implementation of these schemes.

The motion was presented by Green Party Councillor Simon Grover and drawn up in conjunction with 20’s Plenty campaigners.

Cllr Simon Grover said: “Twenty million people in the UK already benefit from wide-area 20mph zones, and they are always popular. The county council has the budget for this, so I look forward to them moving swiftly to the design stage."

20’s Plenty for St Albans District spokesperson Colin Hodges added: "We are delighted that this motion has been passed and look forward to continuing to work with SADC and the local community to help develop wide area 20mph zones that will provide safer, less polluted, more sociable streets for St Albans, Harpenden and local villages.

"We trust that Herts county council will recognise the high level of community support that was behind this vote."

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District council leader Cllr Chris White added: "There is growing evidence that speed limits in towns, especially residential areas, are too high and it is something that residents write to me about frequently.

"I would like to see the county council adopt the approach in the motion wholeheartedly so that the norm becomes 20mph rather than 30mph. That will reduce casualties, make people feel safer and increase the numbers of people prepared to walk or cycle."

Meanwhile, the county council is consulting on its Active Travel Fund initiative, a £6.4m government grant to create safer, easier to use spaces for pedestrians and cyclists in a bid to improve health, air quality, road safety, the local economy and traffic congestion.

In St Albans, the county is proposing a dedicated on-road space for cyclists in Marlborough Road, which will be separated from the main road and footway by low-level kerbs.

There would also be junction enhancements to improve safety and improve access for people cycling southbound along the road, as well as changes to vehicle access to help create quieter and safer streets.

Elsewhere, in the Fleetville area, HCC is considering the creation of a low traffic neighbourhood to discourage rat-running, including new 20mph speed limits, more junction improvements, and changes on how vehicles access and travel to and from the area.

This will include the roads bordered by Hatfield Road, Sandpit Lane, Beechwood Avenue and the railway line, but not anywhere south of Hatfield Road.

Paul Spelzini, of PBSAUG (Potters Bar and St Albans Transport Users Group), added: "We think HCC may have missed an opportunity here, as the four-mile long A5183 cycle route which we would support and is well used by Verulam Cycling Club was turned down. These proposals will cost the taxpayer some £6M in all, whilst buses get a derisory £1.4M a year by comparison.

"Marlborough Road is a busy traffic link for HGVs, deliveries and uphill, and (North) Fleetville is self-contained and less busy, but we don’t want to see the ring road included as that could create a bottleneck for bus services. Active travel is a cheap alternative to proper bus access as parts of this area fail to meet the 400m accessibility contour, as the Sandpit Lane service is infrequent and remote.

"Remember that active travel is of little use to some disabled people or those without a car, and also includes walkers, not just cyclists, so we would like to see a sponsored tourist hop-on hop-off minibus in the city’s heritage area proposed for later this year from Abbey Station for UK tourists."

Comments on the Active Travel Fund initiatives are welcome until March 16, with feedback used to shape how the schemes progress ahead of public consultation later in the year.

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