THE Liberal Democrats are challenging Surrey County Council to make 20mph the default speed limit for roads outside schools, residential areas and streets that are busy with pedestrians.

Their party wants to make walking and cycling safer across the county and reduce the number of road accidents through cutting traffic speeds.

It will ask the council at its meeting on Tuesday to agree that all 30mph zones should be reduced to 20mph unless there is a good reason to not lower the limit.

This, it says, will follow similar bold initiatives of the highways authorities in counties such as Lancashire, Cambridgeshire and Oxfordshire.

Goldsworth East and Horsell Village county councillor Lance Spencer, the Lib Dem spokesman on climate change, will propose the motion.

“Liberal Democrats have long called for 20mph to be the default speed limit in all residential areas and town centres, unless there is an overriding reason for a higher limit and provided there is support from the local community,” he said.

“Surrey County Council talks a lot about promoting active travel in its local transport plan as a key part of reducing carbon emissions, encouraging people to leave their cars at home, but it needs to do more to provide the right conditions for people to have confidence in walking and cycling safely.

“Forty-six per cent of carbon emissions in Surrey come from transport, primarily cars. We need to have an open and honest discussion in our communities about what changes to our behaviour we are willing to make, to ensure we can have a real impact on carbon emissions.”

The motion will be seconded by Lib Dem councillor Angela Goodwin, who represents Guildford South West.

“The health and environmental benefits of 20mph zones are widely recognised,” she said. “We won’t get the step change we need unless the council implements broader measures to slow traffic down in residential and busy pedestrian streets and outside schools.”

The Lib Dems are supported by Alastair Bayliss, a steering group member of the campaign group 20s Plenty for Surrey.

He said: “Surrey really needs a policy that allows communities to adopt 20mph limits in a cost-effective way and without having to wait many years. We urge all councillors to support this proposal regardless of their political affiliation.”

The proposal is for 20mph speed limits to be introducing using a dedicated fund, by installing signage but not the traffic-calming measures such as road humps and build-ups usually found in such zones.