The roll-out of 20mph zones continues apace. And why not? In Stockwood, we're part of the 'Outer South' area where it's planned to go 20mph within twelve months. With the exception of chosen suburban arteries, of course. For Stockwood, that means Stockwood Lane, Sturminster Road/Craydon Road, and most of West Town Lane. The map's here
Cue all the same arguments. Time lost? Pollution caused? Fuel consumption? Unenforcibility? Er.... safety, even?
The Roadshow promoting all this will reach Stockwood Library on 12th April, but we won't get the chance to hear from, and comment to, council officers until they come along to our Ward Forum on 8th May – just six days after this 'informal consultation' closes!
Me, I'd go for a blanket 20mph for the ward. Here's why.
I fully accept the case for 20mph speed limits in residential streets. No argument there. Criminally irresponsible not do it, really.
As for the three Stockwood exceptions, what they have in common is that they're all rat runs.
Stockwood Lane has long been used as a de facto outer ring road by those heading between Wells Road and the Bath Road P&R, or on to the Ring Road at Hicks Gate. This traffic will increase in future as commuter parking becomes more difficult in the inner areas . Stockwood Lane wasn't built for this, and has become a barrier to pedestrians from the east side wanting reach the buses/schools/shops/health centre on the west side, though there's no single crossing point . All the more reason, then to limit the speeds to 20mph
Sturminster Road/Craydon seems like a simple uncluttered thoroughfare. But it too acts as a rat run – witness the number of heavy lorries using it. Like Stockwood Lane, it's hard to cross because it carries a lot of traffic, and at some points – like the bend where Sturminster Road morphs into Craydon Road – sight lines are poor and traffic is fast. Yet children from the west side of the road must cross to get to school; pensioners must cross to reach bus stops.
West Town Lane is the longest established east-west route between Bath Road and Wells Road, and although Callington Road was built to take the traffic off it, plenty still uses West Town Lane as a through route. That is likely to increase significantly once the South Bristol link turns Callington Road into a de facto South Bristol Ring Road, putting more pressure on West Town Lane as an alternative rat run. The 20mph plans recognise this in part by retaining the present (though advisory) restriction outside West Town Lane School – but that's hardly enough even now to discourage the through traffic. Better to 20mph the full Bath Road – Wells Road link.
If all three of the above 'spine' roads are embraced by the 20mph restriction, Stockwood becomes 20mph throughout. That not only makes it safer all round, it discourages through traffic and it removes the confusion caused to drivers who must otherwise constantly adjust to different speed limits.