Motorists should be restricted to 40mph on rural roads, says Richmondshire councillor

Speed checks and a motorist being spoken to in Melsonby. Photo: North Yorkshire Fire and rescue Service.

Motorists should be restricted to driving at 40mph on rural single carriageway roads and children be given routes to school as part of numerous measures to increase the numbers of people walking and cycling, it has been claimed.

Four months after members of Richmondshire District Council overwhelmingly voted in support of declaring a climate emergency, councillors are being urged to further the authority’s green credentials by creating a low cost public environment that encourages cycling and walking and cuts traffic congestion.

In a notice of motion to next week’s full authority meeting, Catterick and Brompton-on-Swale councillor Leslie Rowe states while Richmondshire is increasingly an attraction for cyclists and walkers, it has relatively few dedicated cycle routes.

He said to better meet many of the council’s aims the district needs a clear Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan.

Cllr Rowe, who stood as parliamentary candidate for the Green Party in Richmond in 2005, 2010 and 2015, said the council needed to support a network of safe, accessible and direct routes that link the places to which people need to get to, and in particular, the council should prioritise routes for children to get to school.

To deliver the necessary infrastructure, the council needs to work with North Yorkshire County Council and other partners to obtain Government and other funding to build the infrastructure required and campaign for at least five per cent of all local transport funds to be allocated to cycling and walking.

The independent member said he also wanted the district council to press for speed limits to be cut to 40mph on all rural single carriageways and 20mph through towns and villages.

Ahead of the meeting councillors have given the notice of motion a mixed reception, saying elements of it would be “difficult at best to achieve”, and others said they supported its principles.

The council’s former leader, Councillor Yvonne Peacock said the district council had been pouring its resources into developing active travel and tourism for some time, and cited a recent example investing £50,000 into the Swale cycle trail for families.

She said: “Another example of efforts being made by local authorities in Richmondshire include the walking school buses.

“However, I’m not saying we can’t do more.”


  1. As a regular visitor to the dales, this will turn away the tourists that so many businesses rely on, we park up and walk everywhere but to support local pubs cafes etc transport is also required, tackle bank closures for instance to prevent journeys having to be made rather than unenforceable speed limits.

  2. Cycling and walking routes are an excellent idea but such restrictive speed limits does nothing to help pollution as engines are not working at their optimum when chugging along at 20mph. Some of the rural roads are wide, open and with good visibility allowing for faster speeds, others are narrow and twisty and dictate their own restrictions as to what speed is safe. The council needs to look at the infrastructure for vehicles to try and alleviate the sever congestion where 20mph is unachievable and pollution therefore high – try getting into Northallerton or Catterick Garrison for work for example! And how would these speed limits be enforced on the rural roads – cash generating cameras perhaps? Motorists have enough to worry about without trying to second guess speed limits on rural roads. Get out of your cosy offices and see what’s going on in the great big outdoors before legislating and coming up with ‘good ideas’ and ask the locals what they think. After all, they are the ones using these roads and know what’s required.

  3. A 40mph speed limit on rural roads has to be the most ridiculous idea that Leslie Rowe has ever thought of. Does he seriously think that having everyone driving around in 2nd gear all the time, burning twice as much fuel is going to be good for the environment. Aside from that, the cost of journeys would increase, the costs to businesses would increase, there would be a small minority who would drive at 40 mph while the rest of us would be forced to overtake them on narrow roads in order to get where we want to be in a reasonable time-frame, increasing the risk of accidents.
    Let us hope that common sense prevails and we don’t have to endure any more of these crazy ideas, I wonder if Mr Rowe will be selling his car and changing to a horse and cart?

    • I doubt you’d be “driving around in 2nd gear all the time” at even 25mph let alone 40mph, but I take your point.
      However, “IF” a narrow road was to be limited to 40mph and “a small minority…. would drive at 40 mph” it would be highly irresponsible for “the rest of us (who) would be forced to overtake them on narrow roads in order to get where we want to be in a reasonable time-frame, increasing the risk of accidents.
      I can think of many single carriageway sections of roads in the Dales where 40mph would in places be sensible – the winding road between Grinton and Leyburn for one. Just a thought.

  4. A typical WAGI from the “green party”.
    He’ll, next, be suggesting that all the farmers get rid of their stock and cover the Dales in trees!
    WAGI = What-a-good-Idea.

  5. You must be joking
    You will have push bikes overtaking you.
    If that’s all you can think of making the environment greener you should not be in the job

  6. At last, a policy proposal that would actually make a difference. This is probably the easiest and quickest way to reduce carbon emissions quickly, it would make a great national policy along with reducing speeds on motorways and other roads. Tackling the climate emergency means we need to change how we live. carrying on as before leads to more floods, more fires, crop destruction and death.
    Think of the side effects: we all save cash by using less fuel, millions benefit from reduced noise pollution, fewer deaths on the road and much more pleasant walking and cycling.
    What a wonderful policy this would be and what an example to set.

  7. Perhaps Mr Rowe would like to go back to the days when we had men walking in front with red flags!

  8. Rural “A” roads should be 50mph.
    Rural “B” roads should be 40mph.
    Both driven with common sense as conditions require. Remember “Be thrifty and stick to 50” that was never removed when applied in the 1970s. All rural villages should be 30mph( or less)
    Check with the road charity “BRAKE”, see what they have to say.

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