24 Jan 2011

20 mph: well done Tony Blackburn

The County Speed Limit Task Group met a couple of weeks ago with it's final report - download here - and see conclusions below. The group is chaired by our local County Councillor Tony Blackburn and looks at 20 mph zones and limits - as he notes in his introduction traffic speeds has been one of the communities greatest concerns. He has listened and when Green councillor Sarah Lunnon put forward a proposal for an inquiry he readily took up the challenge.

Pic: Russ cartoon for the Christmas WaRbler

He writes: "Separate from that wish by councillors to look into the setting of speed limits, there was a request by the county’s only Green Party Councillor, Sarah Lunnon, to consider the improved safety and wellbeing of communities where 20 mph blanket speed zones had been introduced and asking for them in Gloucestershire. It is refreshing that we have her positive ‘green’ enthusiasm and informed views on traffic.etc which substantially contributed to our study."

Well the group has now completed their report and the recommendations will go to Cabinet. It is a huge step forward in acknowledging some of the problems and seeking solutions. One issue that was particularly interesting was that Officers at Gloucestershire Highways admitted to seeking to dampen demand for 20 mph - this seems extraordinary and against the democratic process - surely that is the info they should have been giving to councillors so that they can make that call. This is particularly so when there are other solutions like the blanket 20 mph rather than just zones - look at the success Portsmouth has had covering the whole city with a 20 mph.

NHS Report just out

By coincidence the Directors of Public Health in the NW have produced a report drawing attention to the high rates of death and injury on roads in the NW. The report makes several key points of interest that I will be sharing with both Cllrs Sarah Lunnon and Tony Blackburn.
  • Over four-fifths of child casualties occur on roads that have a speed limit of 30 mph, and statistical modelling shows that up to 140 killed or seriously injured child casualties could be saved each year if 20 mph speed limits had been applied in these areas.
  • The report presents compelling evidence that lives could have been saved and injuries reduced if 20 mph limits had been introduced in residential areas.
This is an incredibly important report from NHS Directors of Public Health. It says we have a serious problem with death and injury on the roads and it says the solution is a 20mph limit. I agree!

In the Glos report it perhaps does not go as far as I would like but is certainly a very important step in the right direction towards getting 20 mph in all residential areas - I hope Cabinet at the County now take this forward. We have been waiting too long! The benefits of 20 mph in terms of casualty reduction, better communities and encouraging walking and cycling are big. Come on let's do it!

Glos report

Given everything that it has heard and read, the task group recommends that the Cabinet support the implementation of 20mph limits/zones across the county. Members of the task group appreciate the difficult financial climate that this council is in and has therefore put forward recommendations that incur minimal cost. However, whatever the financial climate the task group must emphasise the importance of putting the needs of the local community at the forefront of any consideration of requests for speed limit reductions. As a community leader the council is tasked with promoting the health and well being of residents, and 20mph limits and zones can have significant benefits with regard to community cohesion. The task group would appreciate a written response to its report and recommendations by 30 April 2011.

7. Recommendations

1. Subject to capital funding being available the task group recommend that the Cabinet develop a programme of work to roll out blanket 20mph limits and zones across the county. The task group recommends that the Cabinet follows the DfT document ‘A Safer Way’ and introduce these zones or limits throughout Gloucestershire into ‘streets that are primarily residential in nature, or other areas where pedestrian and cyclist movements are high (for example around schools, homes for the elderly or markets), but are not part of any major through route (except where the local community demonstrates that it is vital to include it).

2. The task group recommends that the Cabinet redraft the 20mph (draft) guidance so that it includes a measure of community perceptions, and how a 20mph limit can enable more walking and cycling as well as the general ‘safer’ perceptions of residents.
3. The task group recommends that the Cabinet should be proactive in helping local communities initiate speed reduction schemes in their areas.

4. The task group recommends that Cabinet put in place a clear process to support local communities initiate the case for a reduced speed limit in their area. The process could be in the form of a self assessment tool to help communities identify whether there is sufficient need for a reduction in the speed limit in their area, and how to take this forward.
5. The task group recommends that the Cabinet develop a price list outlining the costs involved in implementing a speed limit reduction. The price list should be clear on the different types of engineering that may be required, and also include the costs of the traffic regulation order. The price list will enable the local community to decide whether they can afford to implement a scheme themselves or take another approach.
6. The task group recommends that Cabinet helps parish and town councils to be clear as to how they can access and participate in the allocation of any available section 106 funding for speed control and traffic calming measures in their areas.

7. The task group recommends that Cabinet consider whether it can help local communities ascertain funding for improvement schemes by raising their own funds through precept, sponsorship from the private sector, or in other ways.
8. The task group recommends that Cabinet consider how advisory speed limits can be used to help parish and town councils address speeding concerns and should help rather than discourage experimental schemes.
9. In order that the roles of the different bodies involved in the management of the road network and road safety matters in Gloucestershire is clear. The task group recommends that the Cabinet undertake a review of the councils web pages to ensure that information is up to date, and that there are clear signposts for members of the public, councillors, parish and town councils as to where they can find information and who to contact for help with regard to road safety, and speed related matters. It is important that the information makes it clear that GCC as the highway authority is responsible for setting all speed limits in the county.
10. The task group recommends that the Cabinet maintain an available record so that it is clear where the county has 20mph limits in place, and where the council has received a request to implement a scheme and the ongoing status of these requests. A clear list will enable the council to have a better understanding of the volume of outstanding requests, and help the council to plan how it can help these communities.

No comments: