Plans for 20 mph speed limit in Cambridge approved for 2014

Margherita Cornaglia - News Reporter 12 November 2012

The new £460,000 plan for a citywide 20 mph limit in Cambridge has recently been approved, and will be set in motion early in 2014, following consultation of the project in 2013.

The plan involves introducing a new 20 mph limit scheme in the central areas of Mill Road and around Wulfstan Way. This is meant to clarify what Tim Ward, executive councillor for planning, called “the existing mess”. Indeed, he argues that the present lack of clarity that demarcates 20, 30 and 40 mph zones within Cambridge results in “normally law-abiding people … breaking the limit simply because they cannot remember which bit of the road is 20 and which bit is 30.

Although the plan has been widely supported, there has been criticism directed towards it. Tim Haire, deputy chairman of Cambridge Conservatives, argues that funds could better be spent on enforcing the present system.

However, the evident popular demand for the new scheme indicates that the use of the funds has been decided justly and democratically.

Ward stated that “some of the drivers for the Cambridge project are (a) people want it, (b) to save money”. Asking Cambridge residents their opinion on the project seconds Ward’s claim. A first year history of art student from King’s College claimed that “Cambridge roads are busy …These are historic streets, designed for historic modes of transport at historic speeds, and the recklessness with which drivers approach them at the moment is appalling.”

Furthermore, Ward reasons that “mopping up all outstanding desire for 20mph schemes across the city in a single project would be considerably cheaper.”

A second argument brought forth by a Telegraph study on Portsmouth, where a 20 mph limit was implemented, seems to show that imposing a lower speed limit will not necessarily result in less road accidents. However, this study was clearly selective, and merely brought forth aspects of the Interim Evaluation of the Implementation of 20 mph Speed Limits in Portsmouth report that seconded its point.

Ward states that “when we visited Portsmouth to talk to the architect of their scheme we were told that the police were originally opposed to the introduction of the new scheme, but after it had been working for a while were quite happy with it and enforced it as necessary.”

The arguments in favour of the new system clearly prevail, and, ultimately, Cambridge has nothing to lose in trying to implement it. Indeed, as stated by the aforementioned student, “anyway, it’s not like drivers need to get anywhere fast… Everyone knows only students are busy.”

Margherita Cornaglia – News Reporter