I drove on 20mph road where motorists keep getting fined - and can see the problem

The approach to Glan-y-Mor Road in Penrhyn bay
-Credit: (Image: North Wales Live)


When police released the figures this month to show where drivers were getting fined on 20mph roads in North Wales one stretch stood out. After enforcement was stepped up more than 260 intended prosecutions have been handed out in the region by Go Safe in March and April and of those 114 were at a single spot.

That highway is Glan-y-Mor Road in Penrhyn Bay - which runs between Llandudno and Rhos-on-Sea/Colwyn Bay. I decided to take a drive on the coastal stretch to see what the issue might be.

I started in Rhos-on-Sea and in the village itself 20mph feels like the appropriate speed with a zebra crossing, busy cafes and shops, cars parked up on one side of the road and then a paddling pool and a park. This feels like the sort of area that 20mph was perfectly designed for.

READ MORE: 20mph in Wales: First crash statistics released by Welsh Government

READ MORE: Where in North Wales drivers have been pinged for breaking 20mph limit - with over 100 at one location

Once you leave the village centre the situation starts to change. The road - which follows the coastline - widens and there's less traffic and fewer pedestrians walking around. There are also decent sized pavements on either side.

There are homes on one side of the road for part of the next stretch, and then both sides as you approach the centre of Penrhyn Bay. But all along the road the view ahead is clear and there is plenty of space for pedestrians and cyclists, with a cycle lane on the prom side of the highway.

Glan-y-Mor Road in Penrhyn Bay
Glan-y-Mor Road in Penrhyn Bay -Credit:North Wales Live

This is where the whole debate of what a built up area is comes in. When it comes to current Welsh Government guidance the number of homes would qualify the road for the 20mph limit and under this criteria you can understand why council highways chiefs haven't used the exception option to keep it at 30mph.

But as a driver you can easily see why so many people have been fined. For a start there are no speed signs as you leave Rhos and as the actual limit does not change I can understand why. And in theory drivers are supposed to assume roads like this are 20mph unless otherwise stated.

However it feels very different and while 20mph felt natural in the village centre it doesn't on this quieter wide open stretch with good views ahead. It becomes very easy for your speed to creep up and 20mph to suddenly feel extremely slow.

Glan-y-Mor Road in Penrhyn Bay
Glan-y-Mor Road in Penrhyn Bay -Credit:North Wales Live

A large number of those pinged were doing 26mph (the current threshold) and it's very easy to get to that speed without even thinking about it. While driving at 20mph a small queue began to form behind me and I could have imagined some people trying to overtake if I hadn't pulled in anyway to grab a couple of pictures.

It will be roads like this that will be the focus of the review of limits. New guidance is due and it is expected there will be a significant increase in the number of exception roads which will revert to 30mph.

I will not be surprised if this is one of those and interestingly Go Safe don't have it currently listed on their map of enforcement sites - although beware this does not preclude a camera being placed there.

There are roads in this area where 20mph feels 100% appropriate - like the town centres of Llandudno and Colwyn Bay - as well as busy Llandudno prom. But it doesn't feel natural on this stretch, it's a conscious effort to keep your speed down and requires a regular check on the speedometer.

While I think 20mph has been badly implemented in Wales the recent accident statistics show that scrapping it altogether would be a mistake.

However we have to get the balance right between improving safety and allowing people to go about their daily lives. For me that means roads like this need to return to 30mph, with 20mph only kicking in once drivers are near the centre of Penrhyn Bay. And until that review is complete I think enforcement should be focused elsewhere.

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