We’re being asked for feedback on new 20mph proposals for the town as you know, yet the council has made no serious attempt to explain its reasoning for pushing the changes – or indeed to tell us how much it’s going to cost to implement them.
The only attempt at an explanation I’ve been able to find is a paragraph in the proposed Traffic Order document itself which states the idea is to ‘improve the amenity and maintain road safety’.
The wording of that phrase leads me to believe that even the council understands this proposed 20mph zone will do nothing to actually improve safety. But then Arundel is probably one of the safest places to drive, cycle or walk in the Northern Hemisphere, so that’s no surprise.
Indeed, safety has been maintained successfully in Arundel since the current speed limits were imposed in the mid-1930s. (Does the council think something is about to happen that requires new lower speed limits to ‘maintain’ safety in future? I can’t find anyone to tell me...)
Nationally, it’s recognised that 20mph zones reduce traffic speeds on average by around 1mph – or indeed fractions of 1mph in places such as Arundel where traffic dawdles anyway.
There have also been recent headlines about 20mph zones actually increasing the accident toll in some areas.
You’ll have spotted them, I’m sure.
Still, we must assume this isn’t about improved safety (as the TRO proposal wording appears to acknowledge), and that it’s all about ‘amenity improvement’.
So how exactly will our ‘amenity’ improve if there’s no meaningful change to traffic speed or improvement to safety – and just how much is that ‘improvement’ going to cost? This is what we need to be told.
To be clear, it’s not the prospect of 20mph limits per se that bothers me (we all know Arundel traffic moves slowly already), but the wasting of (presumably) tens of thousands of pounds taxpayers’ cash on a whimsical project which will make no demonstrable difference to anything at all. (Other than potentially criminalising anyone who thinks it’s a nonsense that you can’t drive at 30mph through Arundel ‘out of hours’ or ‘out of season’, when there’s not another car or pedestrian in sight.)
This is money that should not be frittered away.
If there’s any spare road safety cash swilling around, it should be spent on specific projects that might actually save a life. For example, installing traffic calming measures outside our schools, or in Ford Road where residents regularly complain about speeding traffic.
So why won’t the council come clean and advertise how much this scheme is going to cost, and what the (supposed) benefits really are? All we have been given is the vaguest of platitudes, and it’s really an insult to intelligence.
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