20mph zone in Marlborough ‘would reduce pollution and accidents’

Written by Peter Davison on .

The introduction of a 20mph speed limit in the centre of Marlborough could reduce air pollution and prevent accidents, say campaigners.

Members of Transition Marlborough attended a meeting of Marlborough Town Council on Monday night in support of Jane Davies, prospective Wiltshire Councillor for the West Selkley ward, who was making a presentation on the effect of lower speed limits.

Parts of Marlborough – especially along the busy A346 arterial road – often break the EU limits for air pollution, and both the town council and Transition Marlborough are keen to find solutions that would reduce air pollution.

Ms Davies told Marlborough town councillors that Lockeridge joined Ramsbury, Great Bedwyn, Ogbourne St Andrew and Woodborough in a small club of parishes that have been successful in getting speed limits reduced – although not all schemes have been fully implemented at this time.

She referred to national statistics suggesting that reducing the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph would help lower air pollution, by reducing the incidence of acceleration, deceleration, and braking that produces greater harmful emissions from cars.

Slower speeds would also lead to a decrease in the number of accidents:  for every reduction of one mph in average speeds, the likelihood of collisions is reduced by six percent, she said.

And the combined benefits of better air and safer roads would encourage more people to walk and cycle – further reducing pollution.

Ms Davies suggested a 20mph zone in Marlborough could lead to a 23 percent increase in people choosing to cycle or walk through town – and those pedestrians would spend longer in the town centre:  a potential boon to the local economy.

Ms Davies, who was part of a campaign to get the speed limit reduced through Lockeridge, said the process was straightforward and affordable.  It would start with an assessment of road speeds by Wiltshire Highways at a cost of £2,500 – 25 percent of which (£625) must be paid for by the parish.

Highways experts would be looking for areas in which the average traffic speed is 24mph or less.  Any greater than that, experience suggests, and the speed limit will be ignored.  Typically, traffic slows to this average speed when drivers enter a built-up area.

Once a suitable zone has been established – and large areas work better than short stretches, the council was told – Marlborough could apply to Wiltshire Council, via the Area Board, for an official speed limit reduction. 20mph zones could be in place within two years.

“It leads to a proven reduction in pollution and accidents, it’s cost effective, it’s happening in villages around you, and it’s good for your public image – it shows you are proactive,”  Jane Davies told town councillors.

It will now be up to town councillors to decide whether to commit to a traffic survey and push ahead with the implementation of a 20mph scheme. The matter could be on the agenda as early as the next full town council meeting on Monday, January 23.