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Roads to Nowhere

20 is Plenty

11.05.2016 | Anonymous | Roads to nowhere
Anna from 20's Plenty for Us

In this guest blog, Anna Semlyen, Campaign Manager at 20’s Plenty for Us, explains how wide-area 20mph limits improve safety and are the foundation for cycling and walking. 

"Road safety matters. How safe people feel clearly links with cutting car use and promoting sustainable travel and consequently cleaner air quality."  

20’s Plenty for Us campaign for wide area 20mph limits.  Limits have signs, lines and education rather than humps. Road danger reduction is first and foremost about slower speed limits as this cuts the total kinetic energy in the system and the likelihood of a crash. Every 1mph less decreases injuries by 5-6% according to the Transport Research Laboratory. 20mph limits prevent about 20% of casualties. 

Road danger is rising - especially for older people and cyclists. Increasingly risky road environments are due to:

  • More people, especially a rising elderly population. Collisions are 10 times more likely to be fatal at 30mph than 20mph for 60+ year olds. The elderly, or those with health problems often walk and react more slowly to hazards. 
  • Motor vehicle traffic increased by 2.2% last year.
  • Road users increasingly have electronic devices and can be distracted.
  • Huge cuts in Central, local government and police funding on road safety.

Places like Edinburgh and Blackpool take their duty of care seriously and have agreed Vision Zero which says no road death is acceptable. The World Health Organisation says road injuries are foreseeable and preventable.

The Department for Transport’s new Draft Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS) states

“The use of 20mph zones and limits can make a difference to both actual and perceived levels of safety in our cities, towns and villages. We believe that local bodies are best placed to determine the speed limits for their areas, based on local knowledge and the views of the community.”

20’s Plenty for Us agrees that 20mph limits reduce danger and fear. The City of Edinburgh recorded a trebling of cycling to school and doubling of permission for children to play out.  However, we disagree on who should set 20mph limits. 

We call for the Government to agree a plan for Total 20 by 2020 with a 20mph default for restricted roads and allowing local authorities to make exceptions where justified.    

Most forward thinking authorities have already installed wide 20mph as best practice.  It’s time that the Government recognised that 20mph is the foundation of active travel. 20mph limits are a popular, cost effective way to raise public health and exercise levels on the 90% of the urban public realm that is streets and pavements.

Most of the largest 40 UK authorities have decided the ‘national speed limit’ of 30mph is not fit for purpose. 15.5m people now live where it’s 20mph. 

Changing the national default to 20mph whilst letting local authorities sign the small number (perhaps up to 10%) of urban roads that might warrant a higher speed limit also makes more sense economically than suggesting that cash-strapped local authorities pay to sign 90% of roads 20mph. 

20's Plenty for Us campaigner actions

  • Comment on the DfT’s consultation by 23 May via online form or email: walking.cycling@dft.gsi.gov.uk. Ask for default Total 20mph.
  • Getting a 20mph limit where you live involves demonstrating local support – eg a petition. Then finding a friendly councillor to support a 20mph request to your council. 20’s Plenty for Us offers many campaigner services including petition templates, emails to your councillors, videos and much more.
  • To join 20’s Plenty for Us for free advice on how to campaign for 20mph and our 300+ local branches contact Anna: anna.s@20splenty.org
  • The next 20mph conference is in Edinburgh on 8th June. Ask your Councillors, Transport officers and Public Health Team to attend. For campaigner rates email Rod: rod.k@20splenty.org.

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