THE roll-out of 20mph speed limits across York is set to continue after the next stage was approved at a council session.
The council’s cabinet member for transport, Dave Merrett, approved spending £235,000 on the next stage of the controversial project, which will see new speed limits in the north and east of the city, following the example of West York, where the limits were introduced last year.
Approving the plans, Councillor Merrett said 20mph limits would bring York’s streets in line with the common practice across continental Europe, where most residential streets have limits of 30kph, and are safer and more pleasant environments for pedestrians, cyclists and families.
The scheme has attracted criticism from the opposition Lib Dems, who say the money would be better spent on targeted schemes at accident blackspots and known traffic problems.
At the decision session, held on Thursday evening, Lib Dem councillor Carol Runciman said: “The Liberal Democrat Group continue to believe that this money would be better spent if it was targeted on accident blackspots and high-risk areas. The blanket approach can ignore real safety issues and it is rather like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
“The experience from elsewhere in York is that many roads included in the blanket areas have low accident rates and often the average speeds are barely above 20mph anyway. I could give many examples of cul-de-sacs included in this scheme where you would be hard pressed to even get to 20mph.
“These plans will draw funding away from the areas where there is a real need to act, such as tackling speeding on New Lane. We also think It is premature to allocate another £235,000 before the results from the earlier schemes in York have been properly analysed.”
She also said the limits were being introduced with no regard for residents’ views, and while many local people simply wanted to see existing speed limits enforced.
Coun Runciman said: “The dangers of not properly consulting residents on transport changes and not building a consensus were shown this week with the Lendal Bridge debacle. There is a lesson to be learnt there.”
The council has so far spent a total of £238,000 on rolling out the scheme in South Bank and west York, and has allocated the further £235,000 for the north and east York roll-outs in 2014/15.