THE highways boss of a local authority which maintains a 9,200km road network has welcomed a report which concluded introducing a mandatory 20mph limit in all settlements was inappropriate.

North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for access, Councillor Don Mackenzie, said despite the pandemic having led to more people becoming conscious of the environment and call for safer streets, there remained “very mixed feelings” about 20mph limits.

Cllr Mackenzie was speaking to the authority’s transport scrutiny committee, following its extensive investigation into calls from groups such as 20s Plenty for more 20mph zones in towns and villages.

The campaign group, which had presented evidence to the inquiry, said there was clear evidence that reducing traffic speeds cut the number of collisions and casualties.

The inquiry found it was “unrealistic” to set 20mph speed limits in all settlements in the county where there were vulnerable road users. It stated that as the rural county small linear settlements, imposing 20mph speed limits more widely would increase journey times, which in turn might have a negative economic impact and could also lead to aggressive driver behaviour, leading to drivers taking more risks.

Other conclusions of the inquiry included that most collisions were on 50mph or 60mph speed limit roads, so that was where most safety action was needed. In addition, the meeting heard the council’s existing 20mph limit policy allowed a degree of flexibility to allow our communities to introduce 20mph speed limits and there were many such zones outside schools and in town centres.

Cllr Mackenzie told the meeting that one school which had seen a 20mph zone introduced had repeatedly asked for further road safety measures to overcome what had been perceived to be road traffic hazards.

He added people regularly claimed to him that there was “an accident waiting to happen”, but said 20mph zones “aren’t the cure all that some people think they are”.

The roads boss said: “I am guided by history of accidents and the like and if we see a history of accidents building up outside schools we will act, and that includes introducing 20mph limits.”

However, Cllr Mackenzie said the authority would review 20mph limits outside all schools to bring extra clarity to its policy.