Protest over 20mph ‘danger’

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A protest petition is calling for a U-turn over new 20mph speed limit zones now in force in most residential areas in Dunstable.

The online petition urges Central Beds Council to have a rethink, saying the zones are putting road users in danger.

Now the petition, with 302 signatures, will be considered at a traffic management meeting on January 29.

The agenda includes the petition wording, which says the zones put the safety of road users “in further danger”.

The petition heading adds: “By abiding by the new speed limit, I myself and others are now contesting with people overtaking or driving far too close behind us who are either unaware of the speed limit due to poor documentation or are just plain ignoring it.

“I also find that travelling at 20 is an unnatural speed and very difficult to maintain, and I am now finding myself concentrating more on keeping my speedometer at 20 to avoid a speeding fine, than I am concentrating on the road ahead of me.

“I agree that some do drive far too fast exceeding the previous 30mph speed limit, and yes, I feel that these should be dealt with for causing dangerous situations.

“However, lowering the speed limit is not dealing with these people and is only putting sensible road users in more potential danger.”

The 20mph speed limits apply to almost all residential streets in the town, apart from major through-routes.

An officer’s report to the meeting says the zones were highlighted as the highest priority at local area transport plan consultation meetings, alongside measures to tackle rat-running. These were included in the plan for Dunstable as part of action to tackle rat-running and speeding.

The report says there is a national trend towards lowering speed limits, particularly in residential areas, and evidence indicates lower speed limits reduce the number and severity of road accidents.

It says it is anticipated that motorists will, over time, begin to accept lower limits and modify their driving.

The report says: “The 20mph speed limits have only been in place for a short period of time, so it is felt that it is far too early to draw any reliable conclusions about their effectiveness.

“Likewise, it would be premature to consider any remedial measures or the removal of the 20mph speed limits.”

The report recommends monitoring the zones and carrying out a full appraisal of their effectiveness after they have operated for 18 months.