Positive Start for New Speed Restrictions
Posted by Andy Goddard
Posted in News
Alex Gidden on new speed restrictions in the city centre.
You may have noticed the locations for the new speed restrictions in Winchester City Centre that have begun to be marked out on the roads.
The scheme, endorsed by Winchester City Council on behalf of the County Council, will now see drivers limited to 20 mph on the central roads through the city.
It is hoped that the plans will be fully completed by the end of September, with signs being put in to show drivers they are entering the new limit area. There will also be markings on the road to show the affected areas.
Having spoken to a variety of people in the public, there appears to be some critics, but many admit the roads will ultimately, be a safer place.
Transport boss Sean Woodward believes the scheme will prove to have positive results once the signs are set up:
“By working with our partners Winchester City Council and listening to what the public have told us, a reduction in traffic speeds in the historic centre of Winchester will make the city safer and a more pleasant place to be.
“There will be a small amount of disruption when the new speed limit signs and markings are installed, but we ask that people bear with us as this should be very short-lived.”
A similar 20mph scheme in Portsmouth has seen a reduction in the number of speed and casualty incidents.
Winchester has had around 100 speed related accidents within the proposed area in the last five year. It is therefore hoped that the scheme will reduce the number and severity of incidents.
Local resident James, from Winnall told us he hopes the scheme will lower that figure:
“100 accidents is quite high so I think the council have done the right thing. Let’s hope we see that statistic reduced now.”
The Council believe that pedestrian safety will be increased, something that the public have been quick to acknowledge.
Chris Gordon from Morestead stressed the importance of pedestrian safety, believing it will give greater protection, especially for children:
“I can only seeing it frustrating me at times (as a driver), but as a parent with children walking around the city, it can only be a positive thing.”
There is also a belief that the 20mph limit will help to improve the flow of traffic within the area.
According to the council, it should reduce the stop-start conditions that currently occur on the roads.
Regular road user Nadia, from Colden Common supports this view, suggesting it could well help the traffic within the city:
“I can’t remember travelling much faster than 20mph anyway. I imagine it will help to make traffic flow better.”
Whilst there has been a generally positive reception to the new speed limit, there have been some concerns about the effectiveness of the scheme.
Katrina Underwood from Oliver’s Battery admitted that she finds it hard to understand the plans:
“I don’t know why they (the council) have done it. Maybe 20mph is good for residential areas but an inner city needs to at least be 30.”
Geoff from Kerrfield backed up this claim, raising his concerns that it could lead to mistakes from angry drivers:
“The busier roads could easily find themselves more congested which can only increase frustration for drivers – possibly leading to bad driving.”
Mainly self-enforcing, the plans have led to questions as to whether the limit is now too low for drivers, potentially seeing an increase in drivers speeding and subsequent fines.
Local taxi driver Chris Green wonders whether the new restrictions will make it difficult for drivers to honour, seeing an increase in those caught driving over the limit:
“I don’t think it’s a bad idea but whether they (people) stick to it is another thing. Does that mean there are more people paying fines, getting caught for speeding? That’s the concern.”
However, Hampshire County Council denies this, insisting they are not trying to catch motorists out with this new speed limit.
With city traffic averaging 24 mph before the new limit, the council see the effect on drivers being minimal.
They see the scheme as part of a long-term process to change the way the centre of the city feels to people.
Despite the concerns raised by some in our interviews out and about in Winchester, the overall feeling seems to be that more careful driving will lead to a safer Winchester for all of us.