It is Road Safety Week this week - and I've been putting together a press release that went out today (available on Glos Green party website soon) - it calls for more Safe Routes to School and a default 20 mph. While putting that together I also responded to a letter in the national Good Motoring magazine - see my response below.
I write in response to letters in the recent issue of Good Motoring. One letter suggested I had hidden that I was a Green party District councillor. In fact I am proud to note my membership and the Green party's lead in calling for 20 mph in all residential urban areas and villages. But this should not be party political issue, indeed I know councillors from all parties working for a default 20 mph.
Portsmouth for example now have all residential roads, bar arterial routes, with a speed limit of 20 mph and casualties have fallen by 15%. The picture of reduced casualties in new 20 mph zones is repeated elsewhere. Part of the reason is that 20 mph is the speed when people are more likely to survive a collision. More than half the people hit by a car doing a seemingly harmless 35mph, die, yet reduce the speed to 20 mph and only 1 in 40 of us die. That alone is surely reason enough for a default 20 mph?
Other benefits of 20 mph include lower noise, and a change in the way people engage with other road users when driving. Eye contact with pedestrians is much easier at 20 mph or less. In Portsmouth the scheme has already been judged to have increased the quality of life in the city and made it a better place to live.
One letter to GM said 20 mph doesn't reduce emissions. Indeed there is conflicting evidence: some arguing it creates less congestion as traffic is moving more steadily, while the AA has found it can lead to as much as 10% more emissions on some roads. However the crucial point is that 20 mph is the speed that has been found to increase the number of people walking and cycling. If we are to cut emissions and reduce congestion then we must share our roads more equitably with other users.
Britain's record for child safety is amongst the worst in Europe. We have discouraged cyclists and walkers from our roads. We are long overdue a default 20 mph. My experience from the doorsteps in my area is that people want 20 mph. That is not being anti-car as one letter writer suggested, it is just common sense.
Cllr. Philip Booth, Stroud District Green Party