Petition calls for default 20mph speed limits on East Sussex's residential roads

Calls for a ‘default’ 20 mph speed limit are set to go in front of a senior county councillor next week.
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On Monday (June 5), Cllr Claire Dowling, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for transport and environment, is set to consider a Green Party-sponsored petition calling for the council to establish 20 mph as the default speed limit for all of its residential roads.

While a final decision will be made by Cllr Dowling, council officers are advising that such a move would “not be a priority” for the authority.

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In a report to be considered by Cllr Dowling, a council spokesman said: “There are over 1,000 kilometres of ‘residential’ roads in the county (comprised of more than 4,500 individual roads).

'Unofficial' 20mph sign'Unofficial' 20mph sign
'Unofficial' 20mph sign

“Although some roads would only require a Traffic Regulation Order and speed limit signs to introduce a 20-mph speed limit, many would require traffic management/calming measures.

“The types of measures required (which would need to be determined through detailed investigation, design, and a full consultation process) would make it very expensive to introduce a default 20-mph speed limit on all residential roads in the county.”

Although officers say the cost of these measures are not known, they estimate that it would be upwards of £15m.

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Officers go on to say that ‘signed only’ 20 mph limits — i.e. limits without the sort of traffic calming measures described above — have only been found to produce a ‘negligible change in driver behaviour’ and that they are not aware of any peer-reviewed research to the contrary.

Despite this, the report also asks Cllr Dowling to draw petitioners’ attention to the council’s new speed limit programme. This programme, officers say, will assess the potential for lower speed limits across all of the county’s A and B class roads, with the aim of bringing forward speed reduction works on at least 25 stretches of road over a three year period.

The petition, signed by more than 900 people at time of publication, also calls on the council to take into account “potential” deaths and injuries when it assesses speed limit reductions and to “include residents’ views on … decisions on road safety measures.”