WALES will start a new era in the slow lane this weekend when the speed limit for most residential streets will drop to 20 miles per hour.
The switch from 30mph as the default speed limit – the maximum a driver should assume they can travel at in built up areas such as streets with street lighting – has proved a political hot potato, despite the law change having been approved by the Welsh Senedd.
Labour had promised to make the change in its 2021 Welsh election manifesto but the opposition Conservatives have been leading the charge against the policy – arguing the lower limit should be applied more selectively in higher risk locations – while a poll for ITV Wales has suggested 66 per cent of Welsh residents oppose the move and only 31 per cent in support ahead of the introduction on Sunday, September 17.
However driving at 20mph shouldn’t be unfamiliar to motorists in Torfaen as the lower limit has been implemented in locations across the borough for a number of years.
But as a result of the law changing to make 20mph the limit for restricted roads the council is now having to make traffic orders to revoke the 20mph limit at 78 locations, mostly in and around Cwmbran, where the limit has been in place.
It is also making temporary, 18 month, orders at 37 locations where it intends keeping the 30mph limit while further orders are required for 40mph buffer zones leading to and from areas of road that have new lower limits imposed.
The 78 orders revoking the existing 20mph limit are required as they had been exceptions but the roads, or stretches of road where 20mph zones had been applied, will now revert back to “restricted road” status where the lower limit is now the default limit.
Among the 78 locations are Trosnant Street from the junction with Clarence Street for 187m in Pontypool and Penygarn Road which have had 20mph restrictions.
Torfaen Borough Council agreed in February it would introduce temporary notices in areas where it’s thought the 30 mph limit should be retained. The higher limit will be in force for 18 months and the council will consider opinions and data collected over that period before deciding whether to retain the higher limit or allowing the limits to lapse so the default 20 mph limit is in force.
Areas where the 30mph limit will be retained include Old Crumlin Road for 114m south west of its junction with Twmpath Road for 627m to the west, and from a point 354m west of its junction with Parkes Lane for 448m to the south west as well as along the B4426 Varteg Road north of the junction with Gladstone Terrace.
A 40mph buffer zone will also be introduced at locations including at Usk Road from its junction with the Horse and Jockey.