Sunday 17 January 2016

What's The Rationale For Reducing Speed Limits? What Did The Consultation Conclude? What Will Happen Next?

Reducing traffic speeds saves lives. It’s also the significant factor in reducing the severity of any traffic injury. That’s particularly important for children and even more so for very young children as this powerful account by a motorist tells.

That’s why cities around the world, such as New York with its Vision Zero scheme, and councils across the UK are doing their best to reduce traffic speeds and provide safer zones in residential and high accident rate areas.

There are many groups campaigning for much lower urban speed limits too. Those include the Child Accident Prevention Trust20's Plenty, Living Streets and The London Cycling Campaign who are calling on councils to cut speeds to 20 mph.

On 9 June 2015 the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced his target to halve the number of people killed or seriously injured on London's roads by 2020 – which would mean a reduction of more than 14,000 Londoners’ unnecessary deaths or serious injuries by 2020.

And just over a year earlier and after having carried out borough-wide manifesto consultation meetings with residents from all political persuasions, my fellow Labour councillors and I were elected with a manifesto commitment (see page 12) to extend the number of 20 mph safer zones in Hammersmith and Fulham.

So last year, also on 9 June, Hammersmith and Fulham Council began a formal 9-week consultation with local residents about extending the 20 mph safer zones to more of the Borough’s streets. The results that came back can be summarised as:
  • 45% Yes to all the roads H&F Council is responsible for
  • 26% Yes but not on main roads listed by each respondent
  • 29% No, not on any more of the Borough’s roads 
The formal consultation produced a 71% majority to introduce some form of increase in the number of 20 mph roads. There have also been two public Policy and Accountability (PAC) meetings were residents attended and took part in the discussions. Since then officials have been studying the details of the roads highlighted by the 26%. They will shortly be bringing proposals forward.

But not everyone is happy with that. H&F Conservatives have long been against 20 mph safer zones as you can read here and here. They argue 20 mph safer zones are anti-motorist. Indeed, one local Conservative recently confided that thinks it is the fault of parents if their children are killed or seriously injured in a traffic accident because they had clearly failed to properly teach them road safety rules. I disagree.

Rather than argue that point publicly, H&F’s Conservative councillors claim the council's consultation responses show a 55% majority against any form of extension in the number of 20 mph safer zones. They're also falsely telling residents that this administration will ignore the results of the consultation and is planning to introduce a blanket borough-wide 20 mph scheme on all roads. H&F Conservatives are either using the same numeracy skills as those that led them to unnecessarily gift hundreds of millions of pounds to property developers or they are deliberately seeking to mislead people - as seems to be their default mode of operation. Others are peddling the Conservatives’ line too.

Back in 1999 I worked with residents and businesses to introduce the 20 mph Grove Home Zone in Hammersmith. By 2005, rat-running through the area had reduced by 27%, speeds had dropped by over 10% and, along with other 20 mph safer zones, it contributed to accident rates falling across Hammersmith and Fulham by 72%.

The Council's highways's officials will soon bring proposals forward that match the results of the formal consultation. That means there will not be a blanket borough-wide 20 mph scheme but the council will add many more 20 mph safer zones. Those will paid for by Transport for London who are rightly determined to reach the Mayor's accident reduction figures and in the process it will save the lives of, and reduce the seriousness of injuries of, people living in, working in and visiting our borough.

1 comment:

Richard Evans said...
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