Driving on a local road this afternoon, on my way to deliver public meeting flyers. Suddenly, from behind a parked car appears a football, followed by a young lad, who luckily saw me and stopped chasing his ball.
If I was doing the legal speed limit and hit him, would it make me feel any better at all, that I was ‘in the right’ and he was silly enough to run out in the road without looking? Absolutely not!
The problem these days, is that far too many drivers see 30mph as a target to be aimed for, as opposed to the absolute maximum if, all road conditions are absolutely ideal – and that’s a very big if. Parked cars, junctions, narrow roads and the strong likelihood of children out playing in a residential street at the weekend, especially if it’s not raining or very cold, all this means that 30mph on most residential roads, is unacceptable, legal or not.
Too many of us become selfish and blinkered when they get behind the wheel of the car, determined to get where we’re going, as fast as we can and with the least amount of slowing down, let alone stopping. You only have to witness the way so many drivers launch themselves at the traffic calming build outs, to see just how reluctant drivers are to have slow down if they can possibly avoid doing so.
I’m not claiming that my, ‘old-man in a flat cap’ driving technique, saved this child from serious injury or death, given that he put his breaks on when he saw the car. However, if the boy had continued to charge on, with only ball recovery on his mind and I had been doing 30 mph, the injuries sustained would have been far greater and far more likely to cause death, than if I had been doing only 20 mph or less and that is something I defy anybody to argue with.
Living Streets is a national charity that campaigns to make our streets and roads safer places for us all to use. Their strap line is, ‘putting people first’ and they have just launched a national campaign to encourage more councils to introduce a 20 mph limit in residential areas.
This is something I have been trying to get the county council to consider for sometime now and the more public support there is, the more likely it is LCC will give it some serious thought. If you would like to make the streets safer for our children, please go to the Living Streets website and take part in their ‘Show You Love 20mph’ campaign.
There would also be a further benefit to making the 20mph speed limit legally enforceable in Lincolnshire. Many of our schools have what is currently only an advisory 20mph speed limit on the street outside of them. This advisory status means that even when a driver is spotted exceeding it, the most they will currently get from the police is a ticking off and advice on being a more responsible and considerate driver.
I recently asked Lincolnshire County Council’s leadership to consider making the introduction of a 20mph speed limit in all Lincolnshire residential areas, a manifesto promise for the forthcoming county council elections. I’m therefore very pleased to see that public support for such speed limits is increasing nationally.
I am however very disappointed to see the comment from the motoring pressure group. This clearly demonstrate an inability to actually look beyond their own selfish wish to drive how they like, wherever they like, whatever its potential impact on people and communities.
LGN & LocalGov Newsletter – 03 January 2013
By James Evison
Public support for 20mph zones has almost reached an outright majority, according to new research published this week.
According to the Independent, 62% of people now support the move toward 20mph zones, and a poll of local authorities suggested more councils were putting the policy in place with almost half respondents either applying the principle or waiting for fresh Department for Transport (DfT) guidance on the issue.
Last year, research by safety campaigners suggested 20mph areas in residential streets was having a positive impact on road safety, as data from Portsmouth City Council and other local authorities indicated.
Another piece of research by shared space expert Ben Hamilton-Baillie and cranial pathologists suggested that 20mph was a ‘natural’ limit for human impact with surfaces, as humans have evolved to run at a maximum speed similar to this limit – whereas beyond 20mph there is a significantly heightened change of brain damage.
Islington LBC has become one of the latest in a series of councils to implement the policy, as it begins to be rolled out nationally – with broad support from the DfT and local transport minister, Norman Baker.
Commons transport committee chair, Louise Ellman, told the Independent that the move would improve standards of road safety.
‘This is about responsible motoring. It will make our roads safer and more usable,’ she said.
‘There is clearly widespread support for this, but it’s important that there be local consultation as to exactly where these zones are defined.’
Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said: ‘Cutting the speed limit to 20mph in residential areas can save lives.’
But the news was not met positively by the Alliance of British Motorists, who warned could actually make it more dangerous by encouraging ‘driving to the speedometer’ and not paying close attention to what is happening outside of the vehicle.
Calls for a default 20mph speed limit in residential areas have received the backing of public health experts.
Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, has urged ministers to take action to make neighbourhoods safer and encourage children to be active by walking and cycling to school.
‘Parents want to see safer streets – the Government must change the standard speed limit to 20mph on the streets where we live, work and play,’ he said.
New research published by Sustrans found the majority (56%) of parents in the UK believe kids would be more physically active if speed limits were lowered.
A separate poll published by the pedestrian charity, Living Streets, found more than a third of adults would also walk if they felt their streets were safer and more attractive.
The Government’s public health tsar, Duncan Selbie, who is chief executive designate of Public Health England, recently used 20mph zones as an example of how public health chiefs can provide ‘visible, accessible and practical’ evidence to influence councillors’ decisions to benefit of communities.
Final approval has been given to the implementation of 20mph zones in the London Borough of Islington, following public consultation on the issue. The local authority announced the move last November and now has agreed to fully implement the project by April 2013.
It believes the move to reduce residential streets from 30mph to 20mph will reduce the number of accidents involving cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists. The Metropolitan Police has already said though that it will not increase the amount of officers or resources it currently uses in the area to enforce the change.
Two of the areas busiest strategic roads, Holloway Road and Upper Street, managed by Transport for London, will not be affected by the change in speed. The popularity of 20mph zones has increased across the country in recent years following successful applications in areas such as Portsmouth. A report by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) for the Department for Transport said reducing traffic speed was the single most effective way of increasing safety for cyclists.
Cllr Paul Convery, Islington LBC cabinet member for transport, said: ‘Adopting 20mph on our main roads is a bold step, but there has been strong local support and we are taking a firm lead.
‘We hope and believe drivers will understand what we are setting out to achieve.’
Having been somewhat under the weather this week, I’ve been a bit slow off the mark on making comment on a recent story about slow drivers. However, having seen an editorial piece in today’s Telegraph, that links this with another of my hobby horses – our impatient society – I couldn’t resist.
Apparently, the top gripe for those who drive, which is most of us, is slow drivers. Nobody asked me, so I suspect that claim will be based on one of those surveys where they asked a couple of dozen people and then using some clever sums, turn it in something that can be claimed as representative of all drivers – like I said, they didn’t ask me and I don’t agree.
Having come across relatively few genuinely slow drivers – 20 in a 30mph, or 40 in 60mph, I think there’s a completely different slant on this story. My question to those drivers who claim to see red when confronted with somebody driving too slowly is, what speed were YOU actually doing?
Over the years I’ve encountered many more drivers doing 40+ in a 30, or 50+ in a 40, than I have the opposite. On that basis, I have a strong suspicion that many of these unhappy drivers didn’t actually know what speed they were doing anyway. Alternatively, they felt that most speed limits, especially the lower ones, were too low for their taste and that drivers who observe them are a pain.
I find it particularly infuriating when I hear or read so called experts suggesting that ‘experienced’ drivers know best what their speed to drive at based on the road conditions and that it should be up to them to choose the right speed. This is one of the main arguments being used to resist the imposition of 20mph in residential streets – rubbish I say. It actually requires effort and concentration to drive well and it’s not just about what is happening inside the car. A genuinely good driver will consider what effect the noise of a speeding car has on those living in and around the street or road they are driving on and not just their own selfish wish to get from a to b as fast as possible.