From next year, all urban Welsh roads will likely go from a 30mph speed limit to 20mph. Spiffing
By PH Staff / Tuesday, 12 July 2022 / Loading comments
Have you driven at 20mph past a school or hospital recently? Well done you. This is an appropriate speed for avoiding the precious baby children or a chap on crutches. You might have been minded to go slower still, in fact. Tremendous. This is all part and parcel of what’s known as ‘adapting to the road conditions’, and it shows you are a sensible, considerate human being. What you will probably not have done before is drive at 20mph along what is clearly a main road that just so happens to be going through a town. You will have not done this because there is no earthly reason for doing so. Unless you happen to be in Wales from September 2023, that is.
Because from then on – assuming the Welsh parliament votes in the legislation’s favour today – any road that was previously a 30mph stretch in Wales will automatically adopt the lower 20mph limit. Which, if nothing else, is going to make some journeys excruciatingly slow. As any PHer living in Wales will tell you – particularly in the more heavily populated south – Welsh towns and villages are often not strung together on majestic stretches of national limit B road, they are situated along minor roads snaking their way up and down valleys. Getting between them at 30mph is not the work of a moment now. In the future it will likely take up all the time you’ve got.
Naturally the Welsh government think this is a splendid way of encouraging people to walk or bicycle, which is terrific news for young families or the elderly or for anyone with anything larger than a wallet to take somewhere or for anyone with somewhere to go that isn’t within a three-mile radius of their house. Of course, driving at 20mph, there is less chance they might greviously injure a precious baby child or a chap on crutches along the way – except the chances of that happening were already infinitesimally small because, as some opponents adroitly pointed out, people generally don’t let their precious baby children walk along main roads. And chaps on crutches don’t want to. They want to go in a car or on the bus. Because it used to be quicker.
Thankfully this nationwide wheeze – said to be the first of its kind in the world – will only cost the taxpayer £33m to adopt, money that definitely couldn’t have been better spent up upgrading the country’s woeful charging infrastructure or its public transport network. And, better yet, an even bigger made-up number says that it will only take a trifling 30 years to recoup that money (or better it) thanks to the savings achieved on projected (i.e. imaginary) hospital treatment. Also, the local population is totally behind it. Or a minority are, at least. The majority, perhaps sensing the massive imposition on their time for little to no tangible gain, voiced their opposition in the government-commissioned consultation.
Accordingly, and presumably begrudgingly, local authorities will be handed the power to make exceptions to the 20mph limit where it is not considered appropriate – a policy endorsed just last year by Neil Greig, the Director of Policy & Research at IAM RoadSmart, the UK’s largest independent road safety charity. “Improving road safety is key but a blanket ban on reducing 30mph speed limits to 20mph speed limits isn’t necessarily the best route,” he said, presciently. “Each situation needs to be decided on a case-by-case basis, with local considerations and consultation playing an important role.”
Of course, that loophole won’t mean every road not directly adjacent to a school or library or hospital or else in a legitimately built-up residential area will automatically remain 30mph. Each local authority – always a bastion of well-thought out and timely proposals – will want to be absolutely sure that its exception to the blanket rule is not in fact a meeting place for precious baby children or chaps on crutches. Obviously you should expect that process to be totally seamless and fast moving. Much like the rest of the future Welsh road network.
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