The Association of British Drivers
Email: cambridgeshire @ abd.org.uk
Cambridgeshire County Council outlines it's approach to setting speed limits here (word document!)
'Where existing 85%tile speeds are greater than 42mph more extensive traffic calming schemes (eg build outs, narrowings and humps) will need to be introduced to effect the speed reduction necessary to justify the introduction of a 30mph limit.
When pressed to explain the apparent requirement to make all roads so dangerous that 30mph becomes the safe maximum, this is how they replied
Thank you for your 'e' mail on the subject of speed limits.
The 85th%tile speed has in the past been used to assess what drivers using a length of road consider to be a reasonable speed for that road. This is based on the assumption that 85% of drivers drive in a reasonable manner.
Recently, as speeding has become more of an issue, especially in built-up areas, the general view has come to be that 30mph is an appropriate speed for all roads in built-up areas. You may or may not agree with this view, but most people, if asked what they consider is a suitable maximum speed for traffic passing their home, would say 30mph or even lower.
The policy that you have read on our website relates to roads in built-up areas, some of which currently have 40mph limits and relatively high 85th%tile speeds. In these situations we would not want to simply change the signs from 40 to 30 as this would be unlikely to significantly reduce vehicle speeds and would in all probability just create an enforcement problem for the Police. In these situations we would need to install speed reducing measures before lowering the limit to 30mph.
Although there are obviously sections of road in built-up areas where higher speed limits than 30mph will continue to be appropriate, I believe that most people would accept that 30mph is an appropriate maximum speed for traffic in the majority of built-up areas.
The definition of a built up area is certainly relevant here! As is the impact on all road users of any re-design work done to engineer speeds downwards. The use of a number such as 30mph is completely spurious. What is important is the safety of the road. If traffic calming reduces the space available for a car to overtake me, yes, on average, speeds will drop, but also on average I will be more likely to be involved in an accident. The road has a lower average speed, but I'm more likely to be killed there. I already have to risk one stretch of traffic calming twice a day!
There are 69 applications for changes to the speed limit.
15 are already approved or already in action. (NOT ONE of these had any objections lodged!!!) 35 have had no progress 19 are in progress of which:
The vast majority of these changes are from an existing 40mph limit to a new 30mph limit. Based on an initial survey of these sites, the majority appear to be sections of road with some (obvious) hazards, which are mostly safe in good conditions at maybe 50mph
The funding approved sites (i.e. those where traffic calming is imminent) are : Catworth, Dry Drayton, Eversden, Great Gidding, Kennett, Mepal, Swavesey, Westley Waterless, Westwick, Wilburton and Witcham
We are in the process of assessing the validity of these proposals. Obviously, there may be valid reasons for changing speed limits in some locations :-)
Contact me so I know you're on our side, especially if you know any of the areas in question.
Write and make a formal objection to the limit. Names and addresses will be posted here shortly.
Read this page which explains the process of setting speed limits