20 mph speed limit in towns

20 mph speed limit signs appearing more

20 mph speed limit signs appearing more

Even cyclists need to obey traffic regulations.  This includes the new 20 mph speed limit signs that are appearing in increased numbers in Dunstable and many other towns.  While riding my own bicycle along at 20 mph I have been surprised at the number of cars who are still over taking me.  Whoa! That’s being generous: perhaps I’m not surprised at all?

I am puzzled at this.  Why?

  • Is it that car drivers simply aren’t used to these new regulations and it’s going to take time before the new limit sinks into their brains?
  • Perhaps some car drivers are automatically programmed to over take cyclists, regardless of speed limits?  Can they not be content to simply follow a cyclist at 20 mph?

These new speed limits are being introduced through residential areas to slow the traffic speed.  Main roads are being left as they are.  It seems quite a sensible step to take and I say that not only as a cyclist but also as a car driver, a pedestrian, a local resident, a parent etc.  Our neighbourhoods are simply not designed to safely have cars driving around at 30 mph or more especially when there are so many tightly packed parked cars in most streets.

I don’t believe there is any hardship for cars to slow down to 20 mph; I doubt whether their average speed will be affected at all.  Whether this new measure will make any difference is something I am unsure about.  I suspect many car drivers will get used to it and comply and some will completely ignore it.  Some will continue to regard cyclists as “fair game” and will aim to over take regardless of the conditions.

My advice to cyclists

  • “Hold your ground” and try not to be intimidated by cars but balance this with stopping to allow a car to over take you if you sense someone is getting impatient.  Use your judgement, listen to your instincts if they are based on well-reasoned experience.
  • Remember you have as much right to be on the road as a car.
  • It’s not a race.  There’s no point in antagonising a car driver who may then go on to have a crash further down the road.  Be prepared to pull over and allow the car to pass you.
  • Lorries have blind spots – do not place yourself in a position where you cannot be seen easily in the mirrors.  Be very wary in overtaking or undertaking – it is a very risky thing to do and you might live to regret it.
  • Always obey speed limits, red lights and all other rules, laws and regulations.  It is easy for people to use the bad behaviour of (some) cyclists in critisising all cyclists.  This includes using lights at night.
  • Be prepared to “rise above” the bad behaviour of motorists.  Don’t get sucked into arguments you’re never going to win, no matter whether you’re right or wrong.  Turn the other cheek, so to speak.



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2 Responses to 20 mph speed limit in towns

  1. MJ Ray says:

    “Even cyclists need to obey traffic regulations. This includes the new 20 mph speed limit signs” – Nope. In general, outside royal parks, speed limit signs apply to motor vehicles only. However, it’s probably a good idea to obey them – if you hit anything and you were going faster, you leave yourself open to being charged with wanton and furious cycling – but traffic regulations don’t require it.

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