20mph across all of Tonbridge as part of post-lockdown transport changes

20mph across all of Tonbridge as part of post-lockdown transport changes
20mph signs go up in Tonbridge

The experiment forms part of the government’s drive for ‘active travel’ in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.


Since lockdown began on March 23, cycling has increased nationally by 300 per cent.

The trial will initially be held over six months, with the option to make it permanent if it receives the backing of local people. It will also be carried out in Faversham.

Kent County Council [KCC] has provisionally been allocated just over £8million by the Department for Transport to invest in walking and cycling.

The first round of funding that has been agreed by government is £1.6million, with the remainder dependent on that sum being spent within eight weeks.

KCC’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, Michael Payne, said: “As part of the Emergency Active Travel Fund from the Government, I am delighted that we have successfully made the case within Kent County Council for part of the £1.6million funding from the first tranche to be spent on a town-wide 20mph zone in Tonbridge.

“This should benefit cyclists and walkers alike, as well as making our roads safer for residents and all road users.

“I have long campaigned for safer roads in Kent. Reducing speeds to 20mph should be one of the best ways to achieve this locally in Tonbridge.”

The trial is being introduced through an Experimental Traffic Order, which means Kent Highways can change the speed limit, test the impact and monitor to see how it performs.

Studies that show 20mph schemes encourage healthier transport choices such as walking and cycling, increasing them by about 20 per cent.

The County Council is also anticipating more people will be travelling to work and school by bike or on foot and hopes the scheme will make this safer and easier for the people of Tonbridge.

Cllr Payne said: “Throughout these trials, we will be monitoring how they perform and after six months, consulting with people on whether they approve of the scheme.

“We will hold discussions with the communities before deciding whether to make it permanent.”

Lower speed limits also help to reduce environmental damage – part of Tonbridge High Street is designated as an Air Quality Management Area.

Cllr Payne, who is also a KCC representative for Tonbridge, added: “I hope these changes will bring about reduced pollution with drivers not accelerating and braking so often.

“I would encourage everyone to do your bit and keep to 20mph, and encourage others to do the same if, as I have been informed, the majority of residents wish to see such schemes.”

An awareness campaign will be held to persuade residents of the potential benefits of the project, which also include lower traffic levels, reduced congestion and less road noise.

Tom Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge and Malling, has welcomed the news, saying: “Michael Payne and [fellow KCC representative in Tonbridge] Richard Long are delivering for our town.

“Achieving a town-wide 20mph zone in Tonbridge is what many want. Those of us with young children, with difficulty getting around or who just like to wander down safer roads, welcome this change.

“As more of us choose to cycle it will help reduce speeding and make more people confident to leave cars and buses and take to two wheels.

“I am looking forward to this being implemented and hope it will be a success. Roads such as Pembury Road, Medway Wharf Road and Yardley Park Road have long had speeding concerns and reducing the limit will help manage this.”

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