30 May 2011

20 mph update: will County act?

Well much has been going on behind the scenes re hopes for a 20 mph in the ward. Tony Blackburn, the local County Councillor, has been pushing hard to get a result. There have been meetings and many emails. First some feedback re the inquiry then more re local possibilities...

Photo: Citizen report last year about 20 mph - see my article here.

We had high hopes for results of the 20 mph cross-party inquiry at County Hall - initiated by Sarah Lunnon and chaired by Tony. It came up with sensible solutions which were backed by evidence. However Cllr Stan Waddington, the Cabinet member responsible at the time, produced a response that I can only describe as disappointing. While he endorsed most of the recommendations, finances he argues, stop him from proceeding to roll out more 20 mph schemes. He also talks about the need for the Council to act on the basis of objective evidence rather than just community perceptions.

Well if that latter line is the case then he should reread the report as it contains a wealth of evidence from other areas. Here are some other facts that have been made many times before on this blog and to the inquiry in various different ways. This list was from Tony but could also be from my report to the County here:

- Speed kills – a pedestrian struck at 30 mph has 80% chance of survival, at 20mph it is 97.5%
- Excessive speed was a contributory factor in 26% of road casualties in 2007
- in London 20mph zone road accidents and particularly child accidents were reduced by 70%
- in Portsmouth a blanket 20mph zone reduced speeds by 7mph accidents by13% and casualties by 15%
- 4/5ths of child deaths could be saved if the 30mph limit was reduced to 20mph in residential areas

These are the statistics why so many of us have requested blanket 20mph limits and zones throughout Gloucestershire. But for me there is an additional point about how 20 mph makes communities more liveable - there is growing evidence to show that 20 mph leads to more walking and cycling as people feel safer.

Of course finances play a part but let us also remember that road traffic accidents cost many millions of pounds a year to our communities. A major factor regarding Portsmouth is that the 20mph zone is self enforcing and has no traffic calming features and therefore costs LESS than previous enforcement (and police) costs and street furniture which is no longer necessary.

Another point that seems to have been missed is that communities have offered to pay towards costs of any 20 mph. Indeed it seems strange in a climate at GCC where we are being asked to run and pay for  Libraries and Youth centres that we cannot initiate  and pay for our own Traffic schemes!

This discussion about policy direction at the county looks set to continue - Well done to Tony - and indeed Sarah for continuing to push for this!

What about Randwick, Whiteshill and Ruscombe?

There have also been discussions locally. A report came back to Parish Councils about the speed tests. Highways seem to see no problem.

As one person in the Parish commented in response: "I am certainly not going to patronise the 355 residents who signed a petition in favour of a 20 mph limit by telling them not to worry as the recorded speeds are well inside the existing 30 mph limits. We have always said that the issues is not people breaking the 30 mph speed limit, it is that the 30 mph limit is too fast for the village." See blog re demo last November here.

The recorded speeds in the areas of Ruscombe Rd, Church Rd - Randwick, Main Rd – Randwick, Bread St, Main Rd – Whiteshill, and Humphries End are within the range where evidence from trials suggests that a 20mph limit can be effectively implemented without implementing additional traffic calming measures. It is also completely unrealistic to consider the speed at the boundary of a zone to be indicative of the speed within it.

The Chair of Whiteshill and Ruscombe Parish Council, John Rogers (who has just stepped down), made a very robust response to Highways.

Replies have been given and discussions are on-going. I remain optimistic!! At the recent Randwick Parish AGM Highways came to hear concerns and see if further action might be possible. Another development is that Cllr Will Windsor-Clive has taken over the Highways brief from Stan Waddington. There is also a new development in terms of funding - the 'Big Society Highway' offer is very much in its infancy with only a few pilot schemes running at the moment but maybe an option. I am intrigued to learn more about this!

It is all very frustrating - and we are not alone here - across the county local groups want traffic calming and slower speeds. Indeed last week I've had correspondence with a local Ebley group who want a 20 mph and are similarly facing frustration with money being spent on Westward Road in the next couple of days that will not bring the calming that is wanted (indeed the road is closed 31st to 3rd June).

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