The London Borough of Richmond is considering changing its policy on wide-area 20 mph speed limits. Currently it has a policy whereby any area in the borough that desires a 20-mph limit has to submit a petition to the Council, signed by more than 50% of relevant residents. An eminently democratic and sensible policy one might think.
However, a recent council report says that the 15 such petitions submitted since 2014 when the current policy was adopted have consumed a considerable amount of officer time, and that “the requirement for a majority threshold can be difficult to achieve”. Does this not simply mean that it is minority pressure groups that advocate such limits and that the general public (including non-drivers) do not support them?
Regardless the Council is proposing to introduce a 20-mph limit on all roads except the TfL network. Part of the justification is to avoid confusion with neighbouring boroughs such as Hammersmith, Fulham, Wandsworth and Ealing who already have just limits. Note: some of these boroughs do not adjoin Richmond. They also justify their proposals on the grounds of improvements in road safety while being selective in the statistics they use to support this claim.
The cost of this proposed change is £600,000 for new signage, plus £50,000 for a borough-wide public consultation on the proposal. Money to fund both would likely come from TfL grants. Is this a cost-effective use of road safety budgets? Such expenditure has not proved to be worthwhile in other locations and the money would surely be better spent on other road safety measures.
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A new report from the Department for Transport (DfT) shows that the vast majority of drivers ignore 20 MPH speed limits. A survey of nine sites across the UK showed that 81% of drivers exceeded the 20 MPH speed limit in the report entitled “Speed Compliance Statistics”. This might explain why the impact on average speeds by introducing signed only 20 limits is negligible as reported in a previous article on this blog, or that the impact on actual accident statistics as reported in many such zones is also not apparent.
The DfT report also notes the common failure to comply with the 70 limit on motorways, although compliance with other speed limits seems to have slightly improved. There has, of course, been wide calls for an increase in the motorway limit which was also supported by the ABD.
Surely the message here is that imposing unrealistic limits tends to be ignored by drivers. The ABD has always supported setting speed limits at the 85th percentile of free-flowing traffic speeds so that only those drivers who are clearly not adhering to what most drivers perceive as “reasonable” are potentially penalised for breaking the law. In addition, it has been shown in other studies that setting the limit in that way is likely to be safer than artificially reducing the limit.
So those London boroughs who are dogmatically introducing 20 limits everywhere (such as Lewisham and Croydon) should take note. The hundreds of thousands of pounds they have spent introducing such “signed only” limits is a waste of money that would have been much better spent on other road safety initiatives. But regrettably those who have signed up to the religion of lower speed limits seem immune to listening to reason and to understanding the facts.
The London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham are proposing to implement a wide-area 20-mph speed limit across all of the borough with only a few exceptions. This was introduced on an experimental basis but is now being made permanent unless enough people object.
So residents or anyone affected by this proposal need to object as soon as possible. The latest day to do so is the 4th of March so please submit objections saying you would like it scrapped.
See here for more information on how to object: http://www.fairdealforthemotorist.org.uk/object20mph.htm
Following my previous article on Croydon Council rejecting objections to a wide area 20 mph scheme in North Croydon (despite the public consultation vote clearly being rigged), they are now pushing ahead with a similar consultation in North-East Croydon (Addiscombe, Ashburton, Woodside, Shirley, Heathfield, Fairfield, parts of Selhurst and South Norwood).
Those who live in that area should make sure they respond to the public consultation. Those who do not, or only use roads in the area will of course be ignored but you could write directly to Croydon Council in that case).
For more details please go to this web page where you will find a link to the Councils consultation web page and more details of the campaign against this proposal by the ABD: http://www.freedomfordrivers.org/Croydon20.htm . Please make sure you respond if you live in the area, and encourage others you may know to do likewise.
How much will this cost? Probably about another £300,000 of your taxpayers money if they manage to get enough support for it. That will certainly be wasted when it could have been spent on real road safety measures instead.
The London Borough of Croydon is pushing ahead with a wide area 20 mph speed limit in North Croydon, and has now published their formal public notice for its plans. But it is still not too late to stop this misconceived proposal. If you live in the area, or drive through it, make sure you submit something in writing to the council. simply send an email to mailto:email@example.com quoting reference PS/CH/Y86 before the 24th December!
The submission put in by the ABD is present in this document: ABD-Submission (a pdf document – click on to access). It gives lots of good reasons why the scheme should not go ahead.
Note that the public consultation that the council undertook on this scheme was the subject of fraud which is very obvious from the differing responses via the web and via post – the councillors have ignored complaints on that issue and are pushing it through regardless. It is very clear that without the fraud, the majority of residents are opposed to a 20 mph limit.
The London Borough of Ealing is proposing a wide area 20 mph speed limit in Acton. You can read more about it and respond to the consultation (which ends on the 18th December so you need to get your comments in quickly) here: http://www.ealing.gov.uk/info/200628/current_consultations/2059/acton_20_mph_speed_limit_trial_consultation
This is a “trial” scheme, but if successful is likely to be rolled out across all of the borough. From past experience such trial schemes are rarely rolled back simply because of the money spent on implementing them.
The Alliance of British Drivers has consistently opposed wide area 20 mph schemes because there is no evidence of road safety benefits. In fact the council are pre-empting a study which has been commissioned by the DfT on such schemes, but evidence from existing ones make any benefits appear to be very unlikely. Indeed in some schemes, accidents have increased. Although traffic speeds may be reduced by 1 mph (on average) in such schemes, that is hardly noticeable by most people.
But it can add significantly to journey times and put you at risk of collecting a speeding fine for driving at what you might consider a safe speed. The council’s supportive arguments are full of dubious claims, such as that it will reduce traffic congestion – that is simply nonsense as there is no evidence whatsoever to support that. Likewise they say lower speed limits will encourage cycling and walking, which might be beneficial if it was true, but again there is no evidence of such effects in existing schemes.
The council does not tell you what this scheme will cost in the consultation material, but it will be expensive. And it will be a waste of money that would be better spent on other road safety projects.
So please make sure you object if you live in the borough, or drive through it.
Croydon Council have released the results of their consultation on a wide area 20 mph scheme for North Croydon. As readers may know the ABD distributed a leaflet in the area and otherwise made representations on what we considered a very biased consultation. See this web page for more information: www.freedomfordrivers.org/Croydon20.htm . The council reported that 50.4% of residents were in favour with 45.0% opposed (non-residents were ignored of course despite the fact that many will be using these roads).
But looking at the results more closely it is very apparent that there has been an attempt to rig the result. The main method of response to the consultation was via the councils web site as with most public consultations nowadays, but for the few people not on the internet they could phone in to get a paper form. The council did not distribute a paper response form themselves.
The results of the consultation split between on-line submissions and paper show a very different story. They give 42.5% FOR versus 53.1% AGAINST on the on-line submissions (total 2824 submissions) but 90.7% FOR versus 4.0% AGAINST in the paper submissions (total 535). Now anyone who has been involved in public consultations knows that it is very rare, if not impossible, to get a response of more than 90% in favour of anything. And clearly the paper responses swung the overall vote. Why should the results be so different on paper responses to on-line?
How was this achieved on the paper responses? Allegedly by some councillors and their supporters actually taking masses of paper forms and getting personal signatures on them by canvassing. One way to rig the result is simply to discourage those opposed from signing, or to discard those completed by those not in favour. Or of course it could be by simple submission of fraudulent entries which is a lot easier to do on paper than on-line.
Councillor Bee said “I am delighted that a majority of residents in the north of the Borough want to see reduced speed limits on their roads to make them safer” – surely an inaccurate statement in more than one way (most of the residents did not respond to begin with).
The ABD is writing to the Council Leader and Chief Executive to challenge the probity of this consultation and the apparent rigging of the result. There will be a further formal public consultation on this matter and we will be making representations to that also. Clearly if the Council does not reconsider this matter then when it comes to any future consultations of a similar nature in Croydon, we will know exactly how to get the right result.