Belfast Telegraph

No fines and no cameras in under fire Belfast 20mph zone

Opposition: Jim Rodgers
Opposition: Jim Rodgers
Adrian Rutherford

By Adrian Rutherford

A controversial 20mph speed limit in central Belfast has not resulted in a single fine - two years after it was introduced.

Since early 2016 a reduced speed limit has been in place on more than 70 streets across the city centre.

But the PSNI has said it has no record of anyone being fined for breaking this restriction - nor has it deployed camera vans to monitor compliance.

Ulster Unionist councillor Jim Rodgers, who had opposed the speed limit's introduction, said it was clear that it wasn't being enforced.

"A lot of people have suspected it wasn't being monitored and this would seem to confirm it," he said.

However, the PSNI said there has been "broad compliance" with the lower speed limit.

The 20mph zone applies to 76 streets in central Belfast and has been in operation since January 2016.

The area covered is the main pedestrian zone, Cathedral Quarter and the roads at the front and back of City Hall.

It is aimed at reducing the number and severity of collisions in the area.

However, questions have been raised about how effectively the speed limit is being monitored.

The Belfast Telegraph used the Freedom of Information Act to ask the PSNI how many people had been fined for breaking the 20mph speed limit.

The PSNI responded that: "Police have no record of any fixed penalties having been issued in this time period.

"Speed monitoring by police during business hours has demonstrated broad compliance with the speed limit, at least in part due to the volume of traffic in the city centre."

Asked how many times speed cameras had been used in the 20mph zone, the PSNI said that because the area did not have a history of collisions, it did not meet the criteria for camera deployment.

Mr Rodgers, a Belfast City councillor, said: "I never thought the 20mph speed limit was a good idea - I was quite happy with a 30mph limit - although I do understand how important road safety is.

"I have seen a lot of the signs up but you don't see cameras.

"If you look at the likes of May Street, you would sometimes see cars at 30mph, maybe 35mph.

"I have always felt this was more about making people believe it is a 20mph zone.

"It's a psychological thing. For people not as familiar with Belfast, the 20mph signs are going to make you slow down.

"Those who use the city regularly are becoming more aware that there is little or no enforcement of the speed limit."

Joshua Harris from road safety charity Brake said: "The introduction of the 20mph zone in central Belfast was a positive step in improving road safety in Northern Ireland - stopping distances at 20mph are half those at 30mph.

"However, these figures show that safer speed limits need to go hand-in-hand with enforcement as, without the threat of being caught, drivers will continue to break the law and endanger lives."

PSNI Chief Inspector Diane Pennington from Road Policing said: "While the NI Road Safety Partnership Safety Camera vans are deployed to locations where there is a history of collisions and excess speed is confirmed as a problem, the collision history in the Belfast 20mph zone doesn't meet the criteria for camera van deployment, nor have there been any requests for enforcement under the 'Community Concern' provisions.

"However, speed monitoring by police during business hours have demonstrated broad compliance with the speed limit, at least in part due to the volume of traffic in the city centre.

"As with all roads, police will continue to monitor traffic speed and carry out enforce where necessary. All right thinking and law-abiding motorists will recognise that all speed restrictions are not there to inconvenience them but to make our roads safer for everyone.

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