Welsh Speed Limits

I happened to visit a South Wales town, which had little to recommend it. It was somewhere where some of my teachers from my school were born and brought up. I can see why they in ended up in Essex. The massive slag heap outside of the town rounded off the depressing nature of the borough. Fortunately to the North there was some of the most beautiful country you could want. Outside our small hotel was the quaintest of bridges with the River Usk running through the eight arches of the single track span. The traffic lights that controlled traffic flow must have frustrated during rush hour, or perhaps there is not one.

The one unusual aspect of the slag heap surrounded town was the number of 20 mph zones. These were not associated with school zones or narrow roads, but in the centre of the town near the university. The traffic obeyed the 20 mph limit which was very pleasing to see. We know that the Welsh assembly have, in my view, a very enlightened attitude to 20 mph speed limits. The power to set speed limits was devolved by the UK government in 2018. In May this year the assembly was supporting a default 20 mph limit in place of the 30 mph. This is in complete contradiction to the value that Suffolk County Council places on 20 mph zones, and the reduction in accidents that it can have.

An article on the BBC website reported, admittedly some time ago, that the Department of Transported had evidence to prove that a 1 mph reduction in average speed limit of vehicles reduced accidents by 6%. It also reported that, originally, the 30 mph limit was ‘pulled out of a hat’. This was in 1935 when there was substantially less vehicles on the road.

The chances of getting a 20 mph speed limit in this village, because of councils not being in favour of the benefits of such a move, are close to zero. They do not see the inappropriateness of the speeds of vehicles as they traverse the 0.81 km or so of road that passes though the village. So what would the effect of reducing the speed limit to 20 mph from the viewpoint of journey time? The 0.81 km in miles equals 0.503 in miles, say half a mile for our purposes. At 30 mph it would take 60 seconds to cover the half mile. At 20 mph it takes 1 minute to cover 0.33 of a mile so you are looking at an extra 30 seconds, approximately, added to your journey time. Hardly a massive impact!

Until the Suffolk County Council changes its view, we will continue to see inappropriate speeds being used by drivers through this village. However moves within the village to get a speed watch up and running may reduce the speeds for the periods that the volunteers are on duty.