There’s nothing fairly like driving via the quaint and inexperienced county of Monmouthshire. With its winding hills and delightful surroundings, it’s an unbeatable spot for a quiet weekend away.
That’s till you attain Caldicot the place locals say they spend hours a day in queues of site visitors, arms firmly on their heads whereas being abused by different pissed off drivers. The city within the west of the county close to Newport is likely one of the few, together with neighbouring Magor and Undy, getting used as a pilot scheme to introduce 20mph pace limits on all restricted roads in Wales in a bid to scale back casualties, encourage eco-friendly transport use and “make Wales more attractive”.
Planners may need been picturing scenes of youngsters and their mother and father strolling hand in hand to high school whereas cyclists commute breezily beside them. You solely must drive on the newly 20mph Newport Road and Caldicot bypass for a few minutes to understand that could be far faraway from the truth in retailer for Wales’ cities and cities.
Over the noise of revving engines and barking drivers as they trudge alongside the primary roads, many advised WalesOnline they’re being handed by push bikes, are so centered on their speedometers they aren’t watching the highway, and they’re typically crawling at a low gear which they are saying is inflicting air pollution and congestion chaos. Some have given up being pissed off and are laughing paradoxically as a substitute. A fast skim via the local people Facebook web page will inform you the entire thing is undoubtedly discuss of the city.
Taxi driver Daniel Thompson has been ferrying across the locals for greater than 15 years. He says he now spends round an hour and a half a day caught on the roads of Caldicot because the scheme was launched in March. He defined it now recurrently takes him 25 minutes to drive half a mile via Caldicot and Magor.
“There is a daily issue with traffic now, especially around Newport Road and stretching up to the bypass,” the 43-year-old who has lived in Caldicot all of his life stated. “Don’t get me wrong – if it was only introduced down side streets and around schools I don’t think anyone would be as angry as this.
“I find it so weird that Caldicot has been chosen to pilot it. Why not Newport where it’s more built up? There have been no serious accidents in Caldicot and Magor, but there could be soon if this scheme carries on.”
The Welsh Government says the modifications will solely have an effect on restricted roads, often positioned in residential and concrete areas with excessive pedestrian exercise. The locals right here argue the bypass and Newport Road don’t equate to excessive ranges of walkers. Ex-councillor Jane Pratt, who led the scheme for Monmouthshire till she was ousted in final week’s elections, stated the council hoped to “create neighbourhoods which are shared more equally between road users”.
Sat exterior Caldicot’s Cross Inn Paul Edwards tells us that if something the brand new limits are worsening air high quality within the city. “That’s just laughable,” he stated. “I’m speaking my mind because it’s wrong. That road is like a motorway, you’ve come up here yourself and seen it.
“Everyone slows down and backs up and the emissions are all crammed into one area. Cars are bumper to bumper all the way, and we’re talking about improving air flow? It’s congested from Magor right up to the bypass. The only way to describe it is a complete mess.”
According to the Welsh Government longer journey occasions don’t imply extra air pollution, and slower shifting autos improve eco-friendly behaviour comparable to strolling and biking as a substitute of driving. A doc detailing causes for the pilot scheme reads: “Evidence shows that vehicle speed is the main reason why people do not walk, cycle or allow their children to walk, cycle or scooter to school.”
John Ball says he’s misplaced so many hours at a standstill exterior his home on Chepstow Road because the new limits that he’s “in a mind to start sending invoices for lost time”. The 57-year-old gravedigger and groundsman at Caldicot Cemetery stated: “I spend hours outside my house basically parked up chugging out fumes now. It’s an absolute nightmare, first it’s the traffic, then it’s the fumes, then the abuse. It’s a knock-on effect.
“I must spend two or three hours a week on this road if not more than that. You’re going so slowly that you just lose concentration basically because you’re losing the will to live. And I’d know all about that because I’m a gravedigger.”
His daughter Georgina Ball says it now takes her half-hour to take her son to the native major college when it used to take her simply 10 minutes. “I can’t tell you how frustrating it is,” she stated. “I wouldn’t mind but it’s virtually impossible to keep to 20 anyway without looking down constantly.”
She’s not the one one who thinks the modifications make the roads extra harmful than earlier than. As you come off the M4 into Magor you journey a few hundred yards earlier than the 30mph restrict modifications to twenty, after which 40, then again to twenty and so forth. There are not any cameras implementing the trialled 20mph limits on the highway which means those that abide by the brand new limits aren’t solely abused however overtaken by rushing motorists who wouldn’t look misplaced at Silverstone.
Biker Phil Vittle stated rushing had not been a lot of an issue on the highway however has grow to be one because the new limits had been launched. “I’ve been doing that road [Caldicot bypass] at 20 and I’ve had to go into third gear pumping all those lovely fumes out, and you get overtaken by cars now doing 40mph easily. That wasn’t happening before, everyone just did 30 and it was much safer.
“On an open road with little chance of pedestrians people just don’t see the reason behind it. It’s absolutely stupid.”
Mechanic Ben Morgan who runs Magor Motors along with his father Rod stated driving on Newport Road is changing into horrifying. “I was driving along there at 10pm the other night doing 20 and the car behind me didn’t just overtake me, but overtook the car in front too,” he stated.
“It’s so, so dangerous. It’s terrible for fuel economy and pollution because you’re constantly in second gear. Not to mention it’s really confusing – you’ve got one sign on the right telling you 30mph and the other one saying 20.” To signal as much as our Wales Matters e-newsletter for options on well being, politics, and training click on right here.
Non-driver Julia Haskey says it’s “unbelievable” what number of autos overtake her husband on the bypass. “It’s significantly more dangerous to be honest with you,” she defined. “That’s mostly because people are getting so irate, and I can understand it when you’re being passed by a push bike. But they zoom passed you and you just think to yourself: ‘What the hell is going on here?’”
Not everyone seems to be in opposition to the brand new limits although, offered they make a optimistic distinction. Steve Jones says he trusts consultants have gotten it proper in forecasting safer roads and fewer air pollution.
The World Health Organisation [WHO] states that the simplest means to enhance pedestrian security is to scale back the pace of autos. According to the WHO half of casualties on roads within the UK in 2018 occurred on 30mph roads. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents states that 45% of pedestrians get killed when hit by a automotive going at 30mph or much less however solely 5 per cent when driving underneath 20mph or much less.
“It has certainly taken some getting used to and I’m not entirely sure it’s the right way forwards, but if it saves lives and saves the environment then surely it’s the right approach,” Steve stated. “I have a big engine car and it is strange going that slowly and there is more traffic. I do fear that with idiots tailgating it could cause an accident.”
The consensus right here is that on roads the place pedestrians are more likely to stroll 20mph is the right restrict, however most – like Phil Hill – consider it’s “illogical” alongside major driving routes. “The questionnaire we received on it was skewed,” he stated.
“We were asked if we felt it was safer for children and whether we thought people had less of a chance of being killed at lower speeds. Of course we understand that and that’s why we support it near the schools and where people are walking a lot.
“But I felt there was no point in even filling the survey out because the answers would naturally be for it. It’ll get through and be rolled out across the country.”
A Welsh Government spokesman stated: “We are currently trialling the implementation of 20mph zones across strategically chosen communities before plans to make it the legal default speed limit on all restricted Welsh roads next year. The evidence is clear, reducing speed helps to reduce accidents, save lives and helps improve quality of life in communities by making room on our streets for safer active travel.”
A spokesman for Monmouthshire council stated: “The Abergavenny and Severnside 20mph speed limits have been introduced as part of a Welsh Government supported pilot in advance of the national reduction of speed limit from 30mph to 20mph on restricted roads in Wales which is intended to be introduced in 2023 throughout Wales.
“Research means that on roads with 20mph pace limits, the severity and frequency of highway site visitors collisions are lowered and typically these streets are safer for all highway customers – it’s safer to drive at 20 mph.
“As part of the pilot, collision rates and travelling speeds will be monitored through the settlements to understand the overall effect of these measures.”