For the past 10 years many Town Councillors have been pushing for 20mph limits around Henley, and in 2015, stakeholder engagement in the Peter Brett Transport Survey also suggested a town wide 20mph limit in addition to the zone already in place in the Market Place.
A report presented to the Henley Town Council Town & Community Committee said:
“20mph zones, are designed to be “self-enforcing” due to traffic calming measures which are introduced along with the change in the speed limit. Speed humps, chicanes, road narrowing, planting and other measures are typically used to both physically and visually reinforce the shared nature of the road.
20mph limits, which consist of just a speed limit change but no physical measures to reduce vehicle speeds within the areas. Drivers are alerted to the speed limit with 20mph speed limit repeater signs.
There has been an experimental zone in the residential streets of Oxford for approximately 8 years, and building on this the County Council has introduced a number of small scale ones. If Henley were to implement a 20mph limit around the town it would be the largest area covered by a 20mph limit outside of Oxford.
The installation of a town wide 20mph speed limit would improve safety but also keep traffic in the town moving as slow moving traffic – less stop time.
Oxfordshire County has no funding available so appropriate funding from developers, housing S106 would need to be found.”
At the Town & Community Committee Meeting an in-depth discussion took place with Members considering who would police the area and if drivers would abide by the speed limits, if the low speed would increase air pollution or not, if accident statistics should be considered and if it was justifiable to spend up to £40,000 of tax payer’s money.
Following this discussion it was recommended that this Committee supports the request and allocates up to £30,000 from the Transport Strategy budget, and that once funding is confirmed a formal report be submitted to Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) requesting they commence working up plans before the end of the 2016/17 financial year, and carry out a community consultation and implement the Traffic Regulation Order if the community agrees. Keith Stenning from Highways at OCC has advised that he will check for speed data records. If no recent data is available a speed check will be undertaken by Henley Town Council. This is to be ratified by Full Council on 28 March.
Does the traffic in Henley go above 20mph anyway? Should this new zone not be combined with the other initiatives put forward by the Transport Strategy Group – removal of the traffic lights, shared space and/or a one-way system? We reported in November 2016 that “A public consultation and questionnaire survey is planned to open in January 2017 for four weeks on the proposals put forward by the Transport Strategy group (read here)”.