Headlines: June 24th, 2009

Countryside campaigners fear a new road safety strategy could lead to more than a million new speed limit signs being put up across England. The Campaign to Protect Rural England bases its prediction on a statistical breakdown of the impact in each local authority area.

Its estimates for the number of signs and their cost have been reached following the Government’s decision not to impose a blanket 50 mph national speed limit but to opt instead to encourage local authorities to consider introducing lower speed limits locally, which, the CPRE says, require the installation of repeater signs about every 300 yards.

Ralph Smyth, CPRE’s Senior Transport Campaigner said: “Its piecemeal plans could require a million repeater speed limit signs that would deface the countryside and distract drivers while costing 300 million pounds.”

In its recent vision for the countryside, the CPRE set out plans for a step change in the number of people walking and cycling and in its report today it says it is particularly concerned that the Government’s strategy does nothing to improve safety on minor rural roads.

After its own research into best practice in Europe the Campaign is calling for a reduction in the national speed limit for rural single-carriageway roads to 50 miles an hour but with local councils having the discretion to keep the limit on their safest roads at 60. It also wants councils to have the power to introduce 40 mph zones on minor rural roads, based on the success of 20 mph zones in residential areas. These would not require repeater signs.

Ralph Smyth added: “We need a common sense compromise between imposing a new blanket limit and a million new signs, which cash strapped local authorities are unlikely to introduce anytime soon.”