Could 20mph be the norm?

20 mph signs.
20 mph signs.
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A call has been made for a default 20mph speed limit to be introduced in towns and villages across the county.

The Northumberland and Newcastle Society has debated the issue and eventually plans to put its case to Northumberland County Council.

Anthony Coon, chairman of its county committee, said: “There appear to be great potential advantages in establishing 20mph zones to cover the small towns and villages where the majority of the population of Northumberland live.

“The quality of life could be greatly improved if traffic speeds within these communities were to be restricted to 20mph.

“Traffic noise, danger and anxiety would be reduced; road layout and signage could be modified to meet local environmental objectives, and the quality of life for residents and the visitor experience for tourists would be enhanced.”

Mr Coon, writing in the society’s August newsletter, believes a 20mph speed limit could become the norm, as it has become in the majority of Newcastle.

He said: “In Newcastle, a limited network of main routes has been retained with 30mph (or higher) limits; this may not be necessary with the towns and villages of Northumberland because they are so much smaller, and most are bypassed.

“The objective should be to designate the whole of each village as a single 20mph zone. An exception to this principle might have to be made for villages such as Longframlington bisected by a main road carrying a lot of through traffic.

“In market towns such as Hexham, Alnwick and Berwick, housing, schools, industry and central areas could all be included in a single 20mph zone.”

He acknowledges there will be objections to a 20mph policy, with the cost of introducing the scheme and difficulties in enforcing it potential stumbling blocks.

“There is no point in a 20mph scheme which is not respected,” he admits. “There will need for wide consultation, and schemes will have to be self-enforcing wherever possible using traffic calming measures and camera-activated ‘slow down’ signs.”