Shared space better than speed limit

20mph zone sign
20mph zone sign

A 20mph limit in the centre of Alnwick is too simplistic a solution for balancing the needs of pedestrians and cyclists, according to Alnwick Civic Society.

In May, we reported that Alnwick Chamber of Trade was keen on introducing the reduced limit to provide a safer environment for shoppers.

The suggested area covered by the limit would be Bondgate Within from the tower, down to Narrowgate and the Castle, Fenkle Street, and Market Street, possibly up to Lagny Street to incorporate the area by Morrisons.

There was a mixed response from residents, with one of the prevailing opinions being that it’s not necessary given how busy the town centre is a lot of the time, which naturally limits speed.

Others pointed out that while they would not necessarily be against the reduced limit, speeding enforcement is really what’s required.

The volume of traffic and the parking situation were also highlighted as of greater concern than the speed at which vehicles are travelling.

In its latest newsletter, Alnwick Civic Society welcomed the debate, which reflects a growing recognition that something needs to be done about traffic in the town.

It says: ‘Progress will not be made unless the issue is acknowledged and we stand alongside those who agree that something must be done, and should be done soon, to make the town centre more accessible’.

But their preferred option is more comprehensive.

‘A shared-space scheme, based on traffic calming, will address some of these issues. These schemes differ from speed limits in that they use design principles (rather than enforcement) to influence behaviour. They should prove easier to operate, but are likely to be more difficult to design and implement well.

‘Experience shows that they do reduce traffic speeds, increase pedestrian access and improve road safety. They also serve a wider rnage of economic, environmental and social aims. They encourage business activity and are popular with the public and traders’.

They also believe it is a good fit for a historic market town like Alnwick.