Motorists baffled by eight speed limit changes on two-mile stretch of Welsh road

Drivers on stretch of the A422 in Vale of Glamorgan faced with several different limits that change from 60mph to 20mph ElzBw-3b6MU

The roll-out of the Welsh government’s 20mph policy has left one road with eight speed limit changes in less than two miles.

Drivers on the stretch of the A422, in the Vale of Glamorgan, are now faced with several different speed limits that change from 60mph to 20mph within a matter of minutes. However, the road does not have speed cameras.

The fast-changing limits on the road, near Aberthin, have been described as unclear and ambiguous by motoring groups, with drivers saying they have been left baffled.

Wales introduced a blanket 20mph speed limit on all restricted roads, typically roads with lamp-posts, in September. The move was intended to reduce road deaths and encourage more people to cycle and walk.

However, since its introduction, there have been a number of concerns around the impact of the limit, with some claiming it has slowed down bus services and fuelled more dangerous driving in some areas. The rollout has also led to some roads being hit with more frequent changes in limits.

Speaking to the BBC, Paul Jarvis, a local businessman, questioned the safety of having so many speed changes in a short space of time, saying: “Everyone seems totally confused and baffled by it. 

“I understand it’s safer to have a 20mph speed limit through the village and outside the school, but having so many changes doesn’t feel safe and feels over the top for the cost.”

The stretch of road runs between the villages of Cowbridge and Ystradowen, and one section changes between 30mph and 40mph zones in a matter of seconds.

It starts at 20mph near Cowbridge Comprehensive School, before turning into a 30mph zone for just a few hundred metres, and then quickly returns to a 20mph zone before arriving at the town of Aberthin.

Once the road leaves the town, it becomes a 30mph zone for about a half a mile before entering a national speed limit zone, where cars must drive under 60mph. 

It stays at 60mph for just under a third of a mile but then quickly switches between being a 30mph and 40mph zone, before returning to 30mph when the road hits the village of Ystradowen.

Vale of Glamorgan Council has insisted that the speed limits for the stretch of road have been set in accordance with the 20mph rules.

It added that the roads it had recently changed from 30mph to 20mph were in accordance with the guidance on restricted roads, and included streetlights.

A spokesman said: “All new default 20mph roads and those that have remained at 30mph will be reviewed after a suitable bedding-in period has passed. This is to ensure that speed limits are set in a consistent manner, which is appropriate for their environment, traffic volume and other factors.

“The council will add the above location to its list of sites to review. These will be assessed against additional Welsh government guidance once it is available.”

However, some motoring groups have questioned why this problem was not spotted before road signs were erected. Steve Gooding, the director of the RAC Foundation, said: “A key factor in ensuring drivers comply with the rules of the road is for those rules to be clear, intuitive and unambiguous.

“Any instance where speed limits along a road bounce up and down repeatedly like a rubber ball, they should be reviewed and sorted by the local highway authority as soon as possible.”

Jack Cousens, the head of roads policy at the AA, said: “Frequent changes to the speed limit on a short stretch of road isn’t ideal. It is good that the council will review the current layout and make changes if appropriate, but residents will rightly ask why an assessment wasn’t carried out before now.”

The Welsh government said that it would not comment on the specific road and said it was a matter for the local authority.