TRAFFIC in Wokingham will be running a little slower thanks to a new experiment.
Some roads in Wokingham’s town centre will have a 20mph speed limit in place, rather than 30mph.
They include Wiltshire Road, Peach Street and Shute End.
The scheme comes into effect from Thursday, July 30, and expected to last for at least six months.
Cllr Pauline Jorgensen, executive member for highways and transport at Wokingham Borough Council, said: “The 20mph speed limit on these roads around the town centre is to assist those walking and cycling around the area while we continue to have social distancing measures in place.
“It will particularly make it better for cyclists by reducing the speed of vehicles around them as well as making the one way system flow smoothly. This will come into force once we have installed new signage in the area.”
Cllr Andy Croy, leader of Wokingham Labour said he welcomed the change to 20mph.
He told Wokingham.Today: “The slower we can make traffic, the safer it will be for cyclists and pedestrians — we need to put pedestrians first.”
Whereas the leader of Wokingham Town Council, Cllr Imogen Shepherd-Dubey, said she thought 20pmh was too high.
“To be honest, 20pmh is a bit ambitious,” she said. “It’s more like 5mph getting through town sometimes.
“But in all honesty, slowing people down through the town centre is not a bad idea.
“It would have been good to change when the borough council put up all the barriers for social distancing.
“But ultimately, enforcement is down to the police.”
Earlier this month, Denmark Street was closed in a pedestrianisation trial. But Wokingham Borough Council said the two-day experiment will not be repeated, citing problems with traffic flow and a lack of parking spaces for disabled shoppers.
Cllr Croy said he thought the short notice for pedestrianising Market Place was the reason for the issues.
He added: “I think there is room for pedestrianisation in the future. If you look at Peach Place, that’s become a great open space.
“There’s no reason that Market Place can’t be the same.”
But Cllr Shepherd-Dubey said pedestrianisation shouldn’t happen until the South Wokingham Distributor Road is built.
“There’s limited connectivity between the area,” she said. “Pedestrianisation was great for people who live and work in the town, but it wasn’t good for those who need to use the disabled bays — it blocks them from using the town centre.
“If you live in Norreys, and need to go do a weekly food shop for your family at one of the big supermarkets, the only way to get there is to drive through the town centre. Aldi, Tesco and Lidl are all south of the town centre.
“And we also need to think about how it affects businesses in the town centre.”
The change to 20mph comes a year after 10 charities, including Bicycle Association of Great Britain, Brake, British Cycling, Campaign for Better Transport London Group, Cycling UK, Living Streets, came together to call for the reduced limit.
Speaking last year, Rod King, founder of 20’s Plenty for Us, said: “The imminent arrival of new technology such as speed limiters on vehicles and Government policies encouraging more people to walk and cycle makes the speed limit we set all the more important.
“Moving to a default speed limit of 20mph is an essential building block in making our cities, towns and villages safer and more attractive places to walk, cycle and spend time outside.”
The roads taking part in the trial are: Broad Street, Buckingham Court, Cross Street, Easthampstead Road, Glebelands Road, London Road, Norreys Avenue, Osborne Road, Palmer School Road, Peach Street, Rectory Close, Rectory Road, Rose Street, Shute End and Wiltshire Road.
For more, visit www.20splenty.org