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CTC's Response to the Dept for Transport Consultation Paper
(Deadline for submissions 18th Feb 05)

CTC has problems with the DfT 'Guidance Notes' as follows

· It retains the assumption that cars are the dominant road user in both urban and rural roads. In places where people live, work, shop etc, it does not allow for a shift of priority towards these “community” uses of street space, and to the movement of non-motorised users. Similarly, on rural roads it assumes that non-motorised users will be few in number – a self-fulfilling prediction which runs contrary to health, environmental and other policy objectives.

· It focuses primarily on casualty reduction without adequately reflecting the wider social, environmental and health implications of speed policy. Indeed, it presents “safety, accessibility and environment” as being in conflict. This is not the case. On the contrary, improving safety will increase accessibility – particularly for those who cannot or prefer not to drive (e.g. children and young teenagers, older people and/or those with physical, sensory or other disabilities) – by providing them with an alternative to the private car. It will also increase the likelihood of people choosing to use local shops and other community facilities within walking or cycling distance, in preference to making longer car-dependent journeys to more remote destinations. So, tackling speeds will not only encourage people to switch to more sustainable and healthier modes of travel, but will also improve sustainability, and the viability of local economies, especially in rural areas, by reducing the need to travel.

· It doesn’t support the more progressive local authorities in introducing lower speed limits – it leaves them to defend themselves against local media opposition.

· De facto it leaves the whims of local police officers in charge of speed limit setting. Police are not necessarily trained to consider the implications for local communities or the wider policy impacts, or the effects on non-motorised road users.

The proposals need revising so as to:

· Support the cultural shift required in public and professional attitudes on speeding.

· Reflect wider social, environmental and health impacts, and accountability to local communities.

To achieve this, CTC recommends the following:

· Strengthen the Speed Assessment Framework proposed by TRL (Transport Research Laboratory) to take better account of wider environmental and community impacts.

· Use the process of introducing the Speed Assessment Framework both as an awareness-raising tool (to influence driver and professional attitudes alike) and as a means to introduce speed limits, which require minimal signing in rural areas.

· The basis for speed limit setting should be to lower the default speeds for urban/residential streets and for rural single carriageway roads to 20mph and 50mph respectively (to take account of these wider impacts) and provide clear guidance to local authorities about the circumstances in which different speed limits would apply.

· The framework would be essentially as follows:

Road type

Default speed limit


Built-up roads


Increased to 30mph on major roads (e.g. urban dual carriageways) whose function is primarily vehicle movement, where the LA can demonstrate that this will not undermine the safety of non-motorised users travelling along or across the road (where necessary through provision of additional pedestrian and cycle facilities).

Non-built-up single c’way roads


Reduced to 40mph on roads whose character (width, sightlines etc) already leads most drivers to drive at or below 40mph – these would be indicated by the absence of a central white line.



Reduced to 30mph in villages, or 20mph where this is supported locally.



Reduced to 20mph on designated Quiet Lanes.

Note:- These recommendations are submitted in consultation with the Slower Speeds Initiative.

For the Slower Speeds Initiative website click here.