A 20mph speed limit is set to be rolled out on hundreds of streets in Sheffield city centre in a bid to reduce the number of crashes and make roads safer.
The council has launched a consultation with the aim of bringing in a new zone on more than 300 roads in the middle of the city, encompassing nearly every street apart from a few major routes such as Arundel Gate, Derek Dooley Way and Sheaf Street.
Campaigners have given their backing to the proposal, which continues a drive to reduce speed limits in accident hotspots that has so far focused on Sheffield’s residential areas.
Highways chiefs say the measure is needed as the amount of people living in the city centre increases and important developments pick up pace, in particular the new retail quarter. Encouraging more walking and cycling, and the use of public transport, is also high on the agenda.
The council hopes the zone will be in place by the end of the year, and has set a deadline of August 11 for people to comment.
Coun Jack Scott, cabinet member for transport and infrastructure, said it was ‘always the plan’ to introduce a city centre 20mph zone.
“We thought it was best to concentrate on the estates where the traffic speed is higher, to lower the number of collisions and help keep people safe,” he said, adding that several crashes had given the project fresh urgency.
“It’s important that we take action. Most of the sad collisions and accidents in the city centre have involved speeding vehicles. It’s made us even more keen to look into it and consider the scope of the scheme.”
Ian Loasby, of the 20’s Plenty for Sheffield group, welcomed the consultation, saying it was ‘long overdue’.
He expressed some concern about 30mph sections that would remain - Eyre Street, Moore Street and Broad Lane among them - but continued: “We are pleased to see the majority of the centre both retail and residential will now be a 20mph zone. This, of course, brings us in line with other major city centres such as Edinburgh and Birmingham.”
Fellow group member Simon Geller said: “Hopefully it discourages people from behaving irresponsibly, giving people a real choice as to how they travel around the city.”
The project will involve putting up signs at the zone’s entrances and on lamp-posts, rather than installing speed bumps, as cuts to funding mean such measures are no longer affordable.
However, Simon said: “The important thing is winning people’s hearts and minds - getting them to recognise that this is a good thing for everybody. The schemes that used to be put in, with bumps, haven’t actually been very popular. They tend to annoy motorists.”
The group has been speaking to police about how zones in Sheffield are enforced.
“They have been ambivalent about whether they can enforce the 20mph limit, but we think they can,” said Simon.
“With repeat offenders, they tend to want to do something about it. We know there have been cases where communities have been given speed guns to measure the speed of vehicles.”
He believed the key effect of zones was that the ‘average speed of traffic comes down’.
“If you’re behind somebody else doing 20mph it’s really difficult to get past them. It brings the speed of all traffic down. On most of the city centre streets you can’t really do a lot more than 20mph anyway.”
Neighbourhoods that already have restrictions include Darnall, Gleadless Valley, Heeley and Stannington, as well as more than 80 streets extending from Greystones to Whirlow. Firth Park and Woodhouse are being considered too.
The local Green Party, which supports the initiative, said the city centre had the worst road safety record in Sheffield, claiming it had been ‘left behind’ in favour of residential areas.
“As well as road safety, slower vehicle speeds mean less air pollution and noise, which is very important in built-up residential areas like the city centre,” said City ward councillor Rob Murphy.
“We know 20mph zones produce fewer speeding cars,” said Coun Scott. “They also reduce the number of collisions, but perhaps most importantly they reduce the severity of them as well. If one does happen, it’s far less likely to be fatal at 20mph than 30.
“We want to have a really vibrant city centre. If you look around it’s clear just how much is going on and how much growth there is. We want to capture it, and harness it, and use it in a really positive way.”
Comments can be sent to 20mphAreas@sheffield.gov.uk via email.
The full list of streets to be included:
Black Swan Walk,
Blast Lane (part),
Blue Boy St,
Bowling Green St,
Broad Lane Service Rd,
Broad St West,
Broomspring Lane (part),
Cotton Mill Row,
Cross Burgess St,
Cross Turner St,
Fig Tree Lane,
Fornham St (part),
Glossop Rd (part),
Harvest Lane (part),
Leavy Greave Rd,
Matilda St (part),
Meadow St (part),
Neepsend Lane (part),
Norfolk St (part),
North Church St,
North Quay Drive,
Penistone Rd Service Rd,
Silver St Head,
South Quay Drive,
St George’s Close,
St George’s Terrace,
St James’s Row,
St James’s St,
St Paul’s Parade,
St Peter’s Close,
Upper Allen St,
Well Meadow Drive,
Well Meadow St,
West Bar (part),
West Hill Lane,
West St Lane,
Wilkinson Lane (part),
Wilkinson St (part),