ROAD safety campaigners have called for a blanket 20mph speed limit across Darlington.

Although the council is planning some 20mph zones, it has branded a total reduction as impractical.

Darlington Cycling Campaign made the demand at its first annual meeting on Saturday.

Chairman Richard Grassick said the group wanted a 20mph limit to protect cyclists.

He said: "Clearly the big obstacle to improving the safety for cyclists, and thus making cycling more attractive to non-cyclists, is to deter car drivers.

"The increase in the region's road traffic over the past ten years is 17.4 per cent, higher than the national average.

"Darlington this week was dubbed the fourth noisiest town in the country.

"The softly-softly approach doesn't seem to be working. Tougher measures are needed, and a 20mph limit could encourage car drivers to take more notice of the safety of cyclists, pedestrians, and the disabled."

Darlington was made a cycling demonstration town in 2005 and given £1.5m of Government funding.

Surveys at the time showed that 94 per cent of the Darlington public were against a increase in traffic on the town's roads.

A total of 82 per cent said it was too dangerous for them to cycle into town and about half even considered walking a risk.

Mr Grassick said: "Cyclists are forced off the pavements.

"So instead we want safer roads. Cyclists get killed on the roads."

A council spokesman said: "We have been listening to the views of local residents and interested groups, and are addressing key areas across the town where we know 20mph zones would be beneficial, based on accident statistics.

"Consultation has been carried out with people in these areas, rather than these measures simply being imposed upon them.

"To have 20mph limits and the associated traffic calming measures on every street in Darlington would simply not be practical."

The proposal will be debated at a Cycling Symposium, which is planned for March 17 when the author of the original traffic research, Werner Brag, is expected to be present.