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UK Town Voters Overwhelmingly Reject 20 MPH Speed Limit
Two-thirds of voters in Worthing, England reject proposal to lower residential speed limits to 20 MPH.

20 is pointless
Voters in the West Sussex, England town of Worthing this week rejected lowering the speed limit on residential roads to 20 MPH. The move comes after New York City, New York lowered its citywide limit to 25 MPH on Friday. In both cases, the lowering was promoted as a "safety" measure.

Unlike in New York, the Worthing County Local Committee sent ballots to all 50,365 households before acting to see whether they supported the idea. Out of the 18,911 who answered, 69 percent voted no, and 30 percent voted yes. The proposal lost out in all nine of Worthing's major neighborhoods, with Northbrook most opposed at 82 percent.

The county council will formally vote on the 20 MPH proposal next week, but staff are recommending rejection of the proposal.

"Recommendation: That the County Local Committee note the result of the consultation and on the basis of this majority response agree to not progress the proposed introduction of a town-wide 20 MPH speed limit in Worthing," the staff report states.

The pressure group 20's Plenty for Worthing lobbied extensively for the reduction, which triggered the public consultation. The group issued a statement rejecting the judgment of voters.

"To cancel plans for a 20 mph scheme based on the results of this flawed consultation would be an injustice," the group insisted.

The counter-group 20's Pointless advertised against the speed limit lowering on buses, claiming that the speed limit lowering proponents are out of touch with the community.

"It appears to us that the 20's Plenty for Worthing campaign is becoming increasingly desperate in response to the tide of public opinion turning against them," the group 20's Pointless said in a statement. "They are failing to win the public over with their arguments."

About half of the responses received during the consultation included written comments. The most common statement was that the lowered limit would increase pollution, fuel consumption and require the installation of unsightly signs.

"I believe a 20 MPH speed limit should be used very sparingly - only in a few key places," one commenter explained. "Overuse will cause immensely more congestion in and around the center of Worthing - it is bad enough now! Free flowing traffic conditions are critically important for businesses and private people alike, as passing trade is vital to the economy. Once congestion arises people will avoid coming to the town -- devastating."

Others suggested the change would decrease, rather than increase, road safety.

"There may be confusion in switching from the main 30 MPH to 20 MPH with drivers getting distracted looking for speed signs and checking their speedometers, rather than driving with full awareness of road hazards and adjusting their speed to that," another commenter explained.

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