Call for flexible approach to 20mph limit in Lewes

Flexibility around the implementation of the town’s 20mph speed limit has been proposed by Lewes Living Streets.

The group has come up with what it describes as a cheap, effective and easy to implement scheme which could be a model for other towns.

At present the Department for Transport guidance on 20mph requires that roads with a mean speed of more than 24mph should have physical measures to reduce speeds whilst those above can be implemented without but with repeater signage throughout the zone.

This can lead to a lot of extra sign clutter and unpopular speed humps, both of which push the cost of implementing the scheme up, says Lewes Living Streets. They are not on their own very effective in reducing speeds. It also means that the 20mph zones are added in patches with gaps in between, which is confusing to all road users.

The group, which campaigns to improve conditions for pedestrians, proposes that, with five roads leading into the town, a clear ‘gateway’ should be constructed on each with all roads thereafter being at 20mph with signs on the gateways to indicate this. The ‘gateway’ would be constructed to make people feel like they are entering a different zone. This could involve some narrowing of the carriageway at this point to slow traffic.

Before the ‘gateways’ there would be warning signs to alert motorists and these stretches of roads would always be a 30mph (this would require Kingston Road to be reduced from 40mph to 30mph in front of the 20mph area).

After the ‘gateway’ there would be no additional signs, except that in the early days of the scheme 20mph would be painted on the carriageway to get people used to the new speed limit.

On the road leading up to the ‘gateway’ and at points after it Lewes Community Speed Watch would monitor speeds and provide data on those breaking the limits to the police in order to reinforce the speed limits.

Lewes Community Speed Watch is already carrying out speed monitoring on the roads leading into the town.

Lewes Living Streets has proposed Lewes Town Council adopt the scheme under the Sustainable Communities Act, to allow the DfT guidance to be flexible and let it be put in place.

Kevin Moore, Chair of Lewes Living Streets, said his group was due to put the proposal to members of the town council’s Traffic Working Party yesterday (Thursday).