Riddle of Otley back alleys and the 20mph signs

From left, councillors Ryk Downes, Sandy Lay and Colin Campbell

The 20mph signs that have been introduced on dead-end back alleyways in Otley – behind Granville Terrace

The 20mph signs that have been introduced on dead-end back alleyways in Otley - Neville Street.

First published in News Wharfedale Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

The introduction of 20mph zones in Otley is being hailed as a major road safety boost – but has already left some residents scratching their heads.

Signs announcing the new lower limit, which is being imposed on more than 100 residential roads south of the river, started going up last week.

They mark the end of phase one of a long-running campaign, spearheaded by Councillor Colin Campbell (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon), to improve safety on the town’s roads.

The placement of some of the signs, however, on cluttered, narrow back alleys and other locations where high speeds seem unlikely, has been branded as ridiculous and a waste of money.

Granville Terrace householder Chris Kelly was one of a number of residents who flagged up the issue.

He said: “We have had a new speed limit sign added outside our house. This I can understand, and in terms of the lower speed limit I am most definitely in favour.

“But another sign has been added at the back of our house, presumably to warn traffic not to exceed 20mph on our back alley.

“To me, it seems quite bizarre and a waste of time and money.”

Lucy Wilkinson was equally damning about the new sign that has gone up at the back of her home.

She said: “I arrived home on Tuesday, March 4, to find two Leeds City Council workers, or contractors, putting up 20mph signs on a private back road behind the houses on Neville Road where I live.

“This is a dirt track that belongs to the houses of Neville Road and on it you can’t possibly go more than 5mph without hitting lots of black and green bins.

“I find it highly ridiculous and a waste of council money. I have seen maybe five or less cars going up this street in two years.”

The Otley & Yeadon ward’s three Lib Dem city councillors say they have raised the problem of “inappropriately placed” signs with the highways department.

But they also point out that there is a legal requirement to have the new limit signs displayed on all relevant routes – including back alleys since they are, technically, a highway.

Coun Campbell, meanwhile, is convinced the overall scheme – which is receiving financial support from the Town Council – will deliver real benefits to Otley.

He said: “This is a major boost to road safety in the town.

“There is sound evidence from across the country that lower speeds on residential streets save lives and our priority in Otley is to protect young children.”

Coun Downes added: “It has taken a long time to get this in place.

“We started surveying residents about four years ago and found there was overwhelming support for lowering the speed limit. It has taken all this time to both find the funding and go through the legal process but we have got there at last.”

Coun Lay said the intention was now to look at introducing a similar initiative for residential roads north of the river in Otley, while two schemes are being considered for Yeadon. “All three look promising and we hope to see progress on these later in the year,” he said.

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