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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 21st January 2013

Report of the Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Innovation, Planning and Transportation

Safer Communities : Proposals to Consult on the Concept of 20 mph zones in Penarth and Llandough

Purpose of the Report

1.         To provide Members with information relating to the issues and processes involved in the creation of 20 mph zones and to recommend consulting on the concept of such zones in relation to the Penarth and Llandough areas in support of the Council’s approach to supporting safe walking and cycling and promoting sustainable communities.

Recommendations

1.         To carry out a consultation exercise with all relevant stakeholders in the Penarth and Llandough areas on the concept of 20 mph zones within Penarth and Llandough.

2.         That a full report indicating the response to the consultation exercise be reported back to Cabinet in due course, with suggestions of the possible next steps.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         In order to consult on the issue and establish feedback on the proposals.

2.         To allow the provision of sufficient information to enable the Cabinet to make a decision with respect to the issue.

Background

2.         The Welsh Government is responsible for determining local speed limits on the motorway and trunk road network, and since July 1999 the Road Traffic Regulations Act (Amendment) Order 1999 has given local highway authorities the powers to determine local speed limits. Welsh Assembly Government Circular No: 24/2009 (October 2009) “Setting Local Speed Limits in Wales” provides guidance to Highway Authorities on the setting of local speed limits. The implementation of 20 mph speed limits and zones where appropriate, particularly in residential areas, is encouraged and supported by the Welsh Government.

3.         It is generally accepted that lower vehicle speeds benefit all urban road users and reduce fatal accident numbers. Reducing traffic speeds on our streets is the single biggest measure that will make them safer, more vibrant and social places. If you are hit by a car at 35 mph, your chance of survival is 50%. If you are hit at 20 mph, your chance of survival leaps to 97%. A 20 mph speed limit can also encourage more people to walk and cycle thereby creating more social streets.

4.         20mph zones have a proven casualty reduction benefit and are usually used in town centres, residential areas and in the vicinity of schools. Their purpose is to create conditions in which drivers naturally drive around at 20mph largely due to presence of vulnerable road users. 20 mph speed limits and zones have gained considerable support across the UK and groups such as the national organisation ‘20s Plenty for Us’ campaign for 20 mph default speed limits, without traffic calming, where people live http://www.20splentyforus.org.uk/index.htm.

5.         However, managing speed limits is only one type of control that might impact upon the use of the roads themselves and consideration also needs to be given to the areas of public space adjacent to such roads and their use. New ideas for controlling such areas have been set out in the guidance relating to the creation of Home Zones (in the document A Manual for Streets) and ideally, therefore, local speed limits should be part of a holistic package of measures to manage speed, improve safety, and promote healthier lifestyles by encouraging walking and cycling. The reduction in speed limits proposed as well as having direct impacts upon casualty and survival rates would impact upon the perceptions of safety relating to walking and cycling which is important as such perceptions currently limit the take up of modal shift across all age ranges at a time when the problems associated with health problems such as obesity are increasing.

6.         A Consultative draft on Setting Local speed Limits was issued by the Department for Transport in July 2012. Whilst this is only a consultative document it does suggest amending previous advice that 20 mph limits without traffic calming should generally be restricted to single or small groups of streets. This reflects practice in a number of cities (such as Portsmouth), where this approach has been taken. The new circular will be linked to a speed limit appraisal tool, which will illustrate the effects of 20 mph zones with traffic calming and 20 mph limits with little or no traffic calming.

7.         Whilst this report deals with the concept of 20 mph zones, it needs to be recognised that any introduction of such zones, would require formal, statutory consultation with South Wales Police who currently enforce speed restrictions within the Vale of Glamorgan.  In the past emphasis has been very much on self enforcing zones, achieved by a variety of engineering measures such as the installation of traffic calming which may include speed cushions, speed humps, plateaux and priority narrowings.  Clearly, if the concept is to be looked at in more detail in due course, the need and extent of such measures would require discussions with the Police, bus operators, the emergency services and residents.  In the same manner, the needs of all highway users would need to be considered if and when any works on the highway are proposed.  Likewise, the impact of any 20 mph zone on the wider network would need careful assessment, as would the need to assess the merits of such a concept when compared to other highway and traffic priorities for the Council.

Relevant Issues and Options

8.         With the recent development of the Pont Y Werin over the River Ely and the Council’s commitment to delivering a network of walking and cycling routes to the bridge from within Penarth, it has been suggested that Penarth would be an ideal candidate for the introduction of a 20 mph zone. The proximity of Penarth to Cardiff means that many local cyclists utilise the existing Cardiff Bay Barrage and Pont Y Werin. With high levels of cycle usage within the town and strong local interest in cycle initiatives as evidenced by the membership on Pont Y Werin Steering Group, it is considered that consulting on the concept could have merit.

9.         While there are a number of principal transport corridors within the town which effectively serve as distributor routes, these are limited and vehicular flows along them are primarily controlled by external elements such as major highway junctions, and indeed by the generally high traffic volumes within the town. In reality therefore traffic speeds throughout the town are generally low and it is considered that the introduction of a 20mph zone would not have a significant detrimental impact upon vehicle speeds within the town.

10.      An area-wide 20 mph speed limit could also contribute to delivering wider policy initiatives which the Council is promoting such as improvements to health or greater use of walking and cycling for journeys to schools.  It also has the potential to improve community cohesion and recognise the community function of streets and not just as conduits for traffic.  20 mph zones within Penarth and Llandough could be viewed as a contributing factor in changing peoples travel habits encouraging a move towards more sustainable modes of transport.  In addition, it has long been an aspiration to improve and encourage greater pedestrian and cyclist movement between the Marina, the Esplanade and the Town Centre and the provision of a 20 mph zone could well encourage greater and safer movement between these areas, in turn, adding to the vibrancy of the Town Centre.  For the above reasons, consulting on the concept of zones in Penarth and Llandough is recommended.

11.      In addition, it is noteworthy that the Welsh Government is currently consulting on the Active Travel (Wales) Bill. The Bill seeks to facilitate and encourage walking and cycling as the most natural and normal way of getting about. The White Paper sets out proposals to require Local Authorities in Wales to:

·                Identify and map the network of routes within their areas that are safe and appropriate for walking and cycling; 

·                Identify and map the enhancements that would be required to create a fully integrated network for walking and cycling and develop a prioritised list of schemes to deliver the network; 

·                Deliver an enhanced network subject to budget availability and following due process;

·                Consider the potential for enhancing walking and cycling provision in the development of new road schemes.

It is accepted that this is not reflected in legislation at present but it does nevertheless indicate the direction of Welsh Government policy.

 

12.      I am recommending that before any work is undertaken on the feasibility of 20 mph zones within Penarth and Llandough, that consultation on the concept is merited in order to identify support or otherwise for the principle of such a proposal.  This consultation would have the benefit of highlighting any matters raised both in support and against such a concept, as well as suggestions for the way forward.  For this reason, the report does not at present recommend feasibility work, as this would be prejudging the consultation.  It also does not make any judgement as to the extent of any 20 mph zones.  I consider that the consultation should be very wide ranging and should involve all relevant stakeholders.

 

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if appropriate)

13.      The costs of carrying out consultation can be met from within the Departmental budget.  Any subsequent resource implications will be the subject of a future Cabinet report.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

14.      The provision of 20mph zones, alongside other sustainable transport initiatives such as improved walking and cycling routes can contribute positively to and encourage modal shift, which assists in reducing car journeys, congestion and carbon emissions.  The provision of slower traffic speeds can also assist in improving community cohesion.

 

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

15.      The guidance on the setting of speed limits and the introduction of 20 mph zones is set out in the Welsh Assembly Government Circular No 24/2009.

Crime and Disorder Implications

16.      There are no crime and disorder implications arising from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

17.      There are no equal opportunity issues arising from this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

18.      The proposal would support the Corporate Plan in its promotion of sustainability, public health, modal shift and the safety of residents in the Vale.

Policy Framework and Budget

19.      This report is a matter for Executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

20.      All Ward Members in Penarth and Llandough have been consulted.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

21.      Economy and Environment.

Background Papers

Welsh Assembly Government Circular No 24/2009

 

Contact Officer

John Dent - Major Projects Manager - Project Management Unit - Tel: 01446 704617

 

Officers Consulted

Operational Manager Legal - Committee Reports

Senior Accountant

Director of Visible Services and Housing

 

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas - Director of Development Services

 

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