It would apply to almost all roads in Newton Abbot and Kingskerswell
A default 20mph speed limit for almost all roads in Newton Abbot and Kingskerswell could be trialled.
The trial is one of the recommendations that a task group who looked at the ways in which vehicle speeds can be managed.
Recommendations they had put forward, which will be discussed by Devon County Council’s Corporate Infrastructure and Regulatory Services Committee next Tuesday, also include reviewing and refocusing the Road Safety Strategy and current Speed Limits Policy, that all new residential developments of over 50 houses to be designed to have a 20mph speed limit from now onwards and improving the approach and processes around Community Speed Watch to get more communities involved.
A default residential 20 mph limit trial in Newton Abbot and Kingkerswell is also recommended following the success of limited speed limits imposed in Portsmouth, Oxford, Bristol, Warrington, Islington, and Hackney.
Cllr Jackie Hook, who chaired the task group and who represents the Newton Abbot North ward, said that she was excited about bringing the trial forward and that it would hopefully make the roads safer.
She said: “People have a huge amount of frustration about speed limits and trialling a 20mph default speed limit in Newton Abbot and Kingskerswell is a bold move, but I am extremely happy with the proposals.
“There are huge numbers of complaints about the speed of traffic which leads to people not wanting their children to walk to school or elderly people being concerned about walking on the roads.
“Reducing the speed limit would hopefully have huge benefits. It would encourage more people to walk and cycle as the speeds on the roads would be less and therefore cut congestion and it would encourage more people to be more neighbourly.
“This is something that also has public support as no one refuses to sign petitions calling for a speed limit to be reduced, so we are really responding to their concerns and wishes. Speeding is a huge bug bear for so many councillors who get so many complaints about it, so I am hopeful that this will be supported.”
She said that the specific details of how the 20mph trial would work have not been finalised, but it was likely that while at present all roads are 30mph unless there is a reason for them not to be, that would change for all roads to be 20mph unless there was a reason for an alternative speed limit.
Cllr Hook added: “There are some roads where it would be unrealistic to cut the speed limit to 20mph, like Ashburton Road, where it can be hard enough to do 30mph at times, so we don’t want to put unrealistic speed limits that mean people losing faith in them. But there are some ‘A’ roads like East Street or Torquay Road that have narrow pavements where 20mph speed limits would be appropriate and realistic.
“We know that not everyone will drive at 20mph either, but if we reduce the speeds slightly and the speeds drop by five, six, seven miles per hour, that will make a huge difference.”
She said speed humps to control the speed were not on the agenda and that controlling the speed limit would be done by signage and possibly the police enforcing the limits slightly more than at present to start with, but that hopefully the limit would be self-policing.
Cllr Hook added: “I know there will be people who will say that you will be lucky to do 20mph in Newton Abbot anyway, and of course, there are times when it is very congested. But there are times when the roads are clear, so it is not a permanent congestion issue, and this should be a good news story and make the roads safer.”
Before any changes can be implemented, traffic regulation orders would be required to change the speed limits for each road, and therefore would require public consultation, and Cllr Hook said that it would probably be around a year before any trial begun, but that when it did, it would hopefully last for at least 12-18 months.
If the trial is a success, then it could be rolled out to other towns and villages across the county.
Cllr Alistair Dewhirst, who is the chairman of the Corporate Infrastructure and Regulatory Services Committee, who was also on the task group, and who represents the ward in which Kingskerswell is in also through his support behind the plans, saying that there is a great desire to go forward with.
He added: “We want people to live safer lives and use the roads, not their cars. In Kingskerswell, it used to just be one long road full of cars, but since the South Devon Link Road was built, there has been a huge impact in the village and now you use cyclists and pedestrians using the road and children walking to school, and the 20mph speed limit on the road has made a huge difference.
“We need to get behind this and make it a safer Devon for all. Getting everyone on board will take a while to filter through but it will improve everyone’s lives and the environment.”
Conclusions reached by the task group were that members had a sense that the approaches taken to respond to community concerns around speed were inconsistent and most importantly that the community did not feel listened to.
It added: “Taking inspiration from Transport for London, the Task Group has the ambition to reconceptualise the county’s approach to considering roads as part of the fabric of communities. This means looking at how road use and travel in general contributes to a community’s wellbeing or could do in the future.
“The Task Group’s recommendations are positioned to prompt positive approaches for the whole community and recognises that a combined approach towards managing vehicle speeds; one that involves speed limit policy, enforcement, engineering and influencing behaviour change, is most appropriate in managing vehicle speeds throughout Devon.
“The task group places on record its firm support for lower speeds, in particular in residential areas that could realistically be 20mph. Whilst recognising further work needs to be done on the best way to implement a change, the task group are committed to seeing the process to make residential roads 20mph become easier for residents.
“Noting the many examples of other authorities implementing default 20mph limits, the task group has called for a pilot in one part of Devon with a view to improving understanding about the benefits and ease of introducing default 20mph in other parts of Devon.”
Subject to agreement by councillors on Tuesday, the council’s cabinet and the police will be recommended to take on board the actions suggested.