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Southwark in U-turn on plans to limit cyclists to 20 mph

Southwark Council has admitted that it does not have the power to impose a 20 mph speed limit on cyclists in the borough.

Earlier this month we reported that as part of its plan to make Southwark a 20 mph borough, the council had – unlike traffic authorities in the rest of the country – decided to include unpowered vehicles such as bicycles and horse-drawn carts in the scope of its proposed speed limit.

Rejecting a public submission that cyclists should be excluded from the limit, the council's head of public realm Des Waters had argued that "...it would be inappropriate to treat cyclists differently to any other form of traffic and effectively tie the hands of police when it comes to speed enforcement".

Now the cabinet member responsible for transport in the borough has confirmed that only motorised vehicles will be included in the traffic order.

"The council sees the establishment of a 20 mph borough as significant step forward in ensuring the safety of all road users not least cyclists and pedestrians," said Councillor Mark Williams, cabinet member for transport.

"To achieve this we feel that all vehicles should limit their speed to 20 mph."

He added: "The council does not have powers to prosecute cyclists who travel in excess of 20 mph and recognises that dangerous cycling is a matter for the police alone.

"Nor are we seeking to 'target' cyclists for enforcement, rather to reflect the concerns raised by pedestrians about the problems caused by a small minority of cyclists whose speed endangers other road users."

The new borough-wide 20 mph limit will be introduced in phases as new signage is installed.

The limit will apply to all roads managed by the council – including Southwark Bridge Road, Borough Road, Harper Road, Grange Road, Mandela Way and Long Lane – but not to Transport for London-controlled roads such as Blackfriars Road, Tower Bridge Road and New Kent Road.

Last weekend a 20 mph speed limit came into force on Blackfriars Bridge, London Bridge and the northern half of Southwark Bridge.

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