13 Oct 2009

20 mph news

Living Streets recently had this article below from Rod King of 20s plenty and the recent 20 mph conference on 29th September in Portsmouth - arguably the UK's first 20 mph city. Many thanks Rod!

Locally Whiteshill and Ruscombe's scheme is up and running and plans are to do speed gun tests to see if it has made any difference - meanwhile Randwick are in the process of ordering their signs. My own view has always been to prioritise measures for traffic calming like gateways, giving a sense of narrowing the road, removing the middle white line and other measures, however I have also fully supported and helped implement the '20 is Plenty'. I note again that I deplore the extra signage - but let us hope that if we can succeed in this and getting some other measures to reduce traffic speeds then we will hopefully be eligible for a mandatory speed limit....at least now this report below shows interest in 20 mph is growing.

20 mph news

The presentations made in Portsmouth may well have been a pivotal point in road safety and danger reduction in the UK.

Until now, speed management has mainly been implemented by means of localised interventions on streets to make the driver slow down. Whether they are speed cameras, or speed bumps the essential engagement has been with the driver on the road whilst he or she is driving.

On 29th September 2009 Portsmouth City Council and the Department for Transport reported on the results from the completely different approach taken by Portsmouth when in March 2008 they completed their setting of all residential roads, bar arterial routes, with a speed limit of 20 mph. No bumps or humps, but most importantly a decision not just made by Traffic Officers but the whole community as they sought a way to deliver lower speeds and a better quality of life for their residents.

Of course, setting lower speeds with traffic calming is so expensive that one only usually does it where there are excessive speed problems. But when you make the decision as a community to slow down wherever people live then it is inevitable that many streets will already have speeds below 20 mph. In fact in Portsmouth they monitored 159 sites. 102 already had mean speeds of 20 mph or less. 36 were between 20 mph and 24 mph, whilst on a further 21 the mean speed was above 24 mph.

And because of that mix it was found that overall the mean speed for all the roads did not change very much. In fact it reduced by just 1%. But what was very significant was the fact that in those streets where speeds previously were 24 mph or above then a huge 7mph reduction in mean speed was recorded.

Whilst casualties also fell by 15% and total accidents by 13%, more time will be needed to establish statistically significant collision figures. Angela Gill and Lynne Stagg (Portsmouth Officer and Councillor) explained that although aimed at reducing speed and casualties, the initiative had achieved much more than this. The lower speeds had delivered lower noise, and a change in the way people engaged with other road users when driving. After all, eye contact with pedestrians is so much easier at 20 mph or less. Portsmouth City Council was very pleased with the outcomes from the implementation which was judged to have increased the quality of life in the city and made it a better place to live.

Portsmouth's success is as a community that has debated how the streets should be shared more equitably and gone through the due political, democratic and administrative process to take that community commitment and turn it into a framework within which everyone can take their part in making their city a better place to live. One where casualties diminish and people have quieter streets with more opportunities for cycling and walking.


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