Bristol speed cameras to be reactivated

More than half of Bristol’s unused speed cameras are to be turned back on as Bristol City Council look to improve the roads for cyclists and pedestrians

by Elliot Johnston   December 16, 2013  

Speed camera (CC licensed image by DaveBleasdale:Flickr)

Up to 26 of Bristol's 37 dormant speed and traffic light cameras are set to be turned back on as Mayor George Ferguson looks to make the city's streets safer, particularly for vulnerable road users.

Work on the cameras - unused since the Coalition Government withdrew funding in March 2011 after saying it was bringing an end to the so-called 'War on the Motorist' and slashed the road safety grant - is due to start in the New Year, according to Mr Ferguson.

Speaking at the Bristol Road Safety Summit 2013 last Friday, the mayor opened the conference by referring to the state of the city’s roads after an autumn of fierce debate over the safety of cyclists around the country.

Mr Ferguson said: "While the number of those killed or seriously injured on our roads has reduced recently there are still too many incidents, especially those involving pedestrians and cyclists.

"In the first instance I have asked officers to start work on preparing speed cameras to be switched back on and boost the number of community speed watch programmes in the city.

"These measures will boost other efforts to improve the way we all get around the city such as the 20 mph zones that are currently being rolled out.”

Speed cameras are not the only weapon in the council’s armoury when it comes to improving the safety of Bristol’s roads; local volunteers are being trained to monitor speeds with detection equipment in 15 community speed watch (CSW) schemes across the city.

Mr Ferguson has also announced city-wide 20mph speed limits, other than on a few arterial routes, which are hoped to work alongside both the volunteer speed monitors and the reactivated speed cameras to reduce the number of road traffic incidents in the city.

The meeting at the City Hall saw 120 people gather to hear from members of the council, Avon & Somerset Constabulary as well as cycling and road infrastructure experts.

Among those present were Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens and Chief Constable Nick Gargan, both of whom supported the Mayor’s decision to reinstate the city’s speed cameras.

Ms Mountstevens said: "I’m delighted that the cameras are going to be turned back on, I think that’s a really good move.

"It's important to involve local people in improving road safety. There are lots of ideas and initiatives for tackling the issues that really affect people such as cycling on pavements and speeding cars.

"By coming together like this we can hear from residents and tell them about the fantastic ways they can improve their area such as by joining their local community speed watch."

Chief Constable Gargan said: "I am pleased that the cameras are going to be switched back on. National research shows that they have a positive impact on driver behaviour and we have been working with the council to identify a cost neutral way of reactivating them.

"We are also very supportive of additional community speed watch groups in the city. In areas in the force where we have thriving CSW groups they play a significant role in helping to tackle speeding in the area."

Finally, Mr Ferguson drove home the need for cooperation between all road users as the council looks forward to a safer future.

“The council can do its bit by designing safer street layouts, promoting education programmes and enforcing bus lane and parking laws,” Mr Ferguson said.

“But all of this will only be effective with mutual respect between everyone who needs to use a limited amount of road and pavement space."

Often pilloried in some elements of the media as little more than a cash generator for councils, research shows the benefits speed cameras have for road safety.

In November 2010 as the speed camera switch off gathered pace across the UK a report by Professor Richard Allsop of University College London for the RAC Foundation concluded that a national switch-off would cost 800 lives a year.

Subsequently, in 2011 Thames Valley Police observed a 50% rise in fatalities on Oxfordshire's roads following the county council's decision to turn off cameras. The speed cameras were reactivated on April 1 2011.

22 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Excellent. I have never understood the objection to speed cameras. (except form those caught of course) .
They catch those breaking the law and add to the income of the owner. its jam and cake.

posted by mattsccm [259 posts]
16th December 2013 - 16:28

31 Likes

A 20mph limit is fine provided it is rigorously enforced which it hasn't been up to now. And while we're at it why not also enforce the "no phone use while driving" rule.

posted by Portex [9 posts]
16th December 2013 - 16:53

18 Likes

Why exactly would you build out speed cameras and then deactivate them in the first place. I would argue they will be ineffective at anything other than generating revenue when back on though

posted by jarredscycling [451 posts]
16th December 2013 - 17:15

20 Likes

jarredscycling wrote:
Why exactly would you build out speed cameras and then deactivate them in the first place. I would argue they will be ineffective at anything other than generating revenue when back on though

Remember, Google is your friend...

http://www.racfoundation.org/research/safety/effectiveness-of-speed-cameras

posted by Hasis [36 posts]
16th December 2013 - 17:40

16 Likes

Portex wrote:
A 20mph limit is fine provided it is rigorously enforced which it hasn't been up to now. And while we're at it why not also enforce the "no phone use while driving" rule.

Absolutely agree on the need to enforce all speed limits more rigorously. But the very good thing about 20mph as a limit is that it ups the ante. If you are doing say 35 in a 30 zone you get an FPN SP30 so that's £60 and 3 points.

If you are doing that same 35mph in a 20 zone it is no longer possible to get a FPN. You are beyond that option so you will have to go to court to have it dealt with. The likely range for fines is £263 - £438 (max is £1000). Penalty point range is 4 - 6 and there is an option to ban for 7 - 28 days.

So depending on the time of day, weather, location, previous driving history, you could be looking at £1000, 6 points and a 28 day ban.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [636 posts]
16th December 2013 - 17:53

34 Likes

Well done mayor. A step in the right direction.

But do you know what is really needed? How about more traffic police? High visibility traffic police to put people off offending in the first place. Speed camaras only put people off speeding where the camara is positioned, (or do they?, judging by the numbers caught), they certainly don't stop mobile device usage and general poor driving, which I think most road users encounter every day.

Think of the cost, I hear people saying.

How much does each traffic collision cost?, even minor ones. Human suffering, lost earnings, NHS costs, insurance premiums, ........ the list goes on ........ I don't have hard facts, but if you add that little lot up, my guess is it may well be less than the cost of increasing the number of traffic police.

TDL

tourdelound's picture

posted by tourdelound [86 posts]
16th December 2013 - 18:25

21 Likes

jarredscycling wrote:
Why exactly would you build out speed cameras and then deactivate them in the first place. I would argue they will be ineffective at anything other than generating revenue when back on though

Well generating revenue sounds good to me. If motorists want to speed (and so make roads more hostile for everyone else) its something if they at least have to pay for the privilege and so reduce the council tax.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [684 posts]
16th December 2013 - 19:06

25 Likes

jarredscycling wrote:
Why exactly would you build out speed cameras and then deactivate them in the first place. I would argue they will be ineffective at anything other than generating revenue when back on though

they turned them off to save money. which kind of holes the old "generating revenue" argument below the waterline...

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7388 posts]
16th December 2013 - 19:51

20 Likes

When I am driving at 20, and a cyclist overtakes me do I grass up the cyclist, for cycling without due care?

posted by freespirit1 [171 posts]
16th December 2013 - 20:35

11 Likes

Portex wrote:
A 20mph limit is fine provided it is rigorously enforced which it hasn't been up to now. And while we're at it why not also enforce the "no phone use while driving" rule.

+1 for that. I'm still surprised by how many people drive around with a phone welded to their ear - no doubt encouraged by a near absence of enforcement.

posted by 5th [28 posts]
16th December 2013 - 22:17

20 Likes

In Hertfordshire the max mean speed limit for 30mph zones is 30mph. The max mean speed limit for 20mph is 24mph. Plus mean speeds have to be already as low as 25mph before a road or area can be considered for 20mph. Also ACPO guidance I believe is that 20mph should not expect to be enforced because it should not be implemented unless the speed limit is self enforcing, ie looks like a 20mph zone. However the govt is consulting on changing the guidance for ACPO.

http://www.hertsdirect.org/services/transtreets/tranpan/ltp/LTP3/ltp3con... for the info about max speeds etc. Not sure where I found the ACPO guidance bit.

Oozaveard where did you find the bit about penalties in 20mph's?

I think I fancy joining one of these community speed watch efforts.

posted by horizontal dropout [148 posts]
16th December 2013 - 23:08

13 Likes

Oh and well done Bristol!

posted by horizontal dropout [148 posts]
16th December 2013 - 23:09

15 Likes

Umm... not sure about all of this. I'm all in favour of the law being enforced regarding speed but I've always held the view that speed cameras only catch a very specific type of motorist and I don't think they target the most dangerous. I'm sure that most of us have seen boy racers ripping around town centres and urban roads without any fear of being brought to task and simply slowing down for the speed cameras. Speed cameras catch drivers who either let the speed creep up unintentionally or those who 'push' the limits of what they can get away with. personally I don't feel more threatened by a car passing me at 35mph than at 30mph; its the one that brushes my elbow on the way through that I'm worried about and speed cameras do nothing to address this. I was almost hit by a car this evening and it wasn't due to exessive speed, just a crazy manouvure without any consideration for other road users.

Speed seems to have become the standard measure for safe driving with the idea that the most crucial thing in piloting a vehicle safely is sticking to the speed limit. Driving with due care and avoiding distractions like mobile phones or alcohol seem to have become secondary concerns. I can understand why speed has been targeted by the police and other autorities as its quantifiable, unlike dangerous driving for instance and I do appriciate the stats that demonstrate modified driver behaviours as a result of speed cameras but I firmly believe that nothing can replace police on the ground (or on the roads in this case) to both deter poor driving and enforce the rules.

Oh, and while I'm typing away, 20mph zones require enforecment otherwise there is no point putting up the signs. This evening I was overtaken in a 20mph zone and I'm pretty sure I wasn't that far off the 20mph mark myself. I didn't mind being overtaken and I might have been slower than estimated but the driver suddenly braked hard just after overtaking to navigate a speed bump before accelerating again into the typical fast-slow-fast-slow pattern on a speed bumped road. My point is that a) I'm pretty sure that the driver was speeding. b) the 20mph limit did nothing to prevent the daft overtake that almost had me spralled on his rear window. It was a classic case of the 'must get past the bike' mentality that a lot of drivers have. Truthfully the overtake itself was fine, I just wish he had commited to it and kept his foot down over the bump.

posted by Matt eaton [395 posts]
16th December 2013 - 23:46

18 Likes

Well done Bristol for having a pair.

Can only be a positive thing...subject to the usual problems such as allowing in car GPS units to flag the impending camera to allow the nutters to avoid a ticket.

As a similarity, if I rang the police and asked them to tell me where officers are going to be at a certain time to allow me the best chance of committing a crime and evading capture I'd be told to do one.

As usual motoring has its own set of rules. Motorists keep on killing and maiming then cry they're picked on whenever anyone dares to pull them up for it.

Waiting now for the complaints to come from local petrol die hards in the area Yawn

Hating our selfish and ignorant car culture

posted by ironmancole [131 posts]
17th December 2013 - 1:59

19 Likes

I'll throw a fiver into the mayor's re-election campaign fund if he can really enforce those citywide 20mph limits. Can you imagine it, 20mph? That'd be terrific.

posted by vbvb [243 posts]
17th December 2013 - 2:36

12 Likes

Bristol. Pro cycling mayor but anti cycling police commissioner and force. The cameras are the only move open to the mayor in this situation, so well done to him, but the police need to step up and stop their refusal to discuss traffic policing with cycle groups until all cyclists have lights.

posted by a.jumper [704 posts]
17th December 2013 - 9:41

17 Likes

a.jumper wrote:
stop their refusal to discuss traffic policing with cycle groups until all cyclists have lights.
They've said that in print somewhere? That's an outrageous stance, quite illogical and not too easy to defend - it's at odds with every other police service in the world probably! Perhaps asking some politicians if they support this out-on-limb approach would be the way to encourage a rethink.

posted by vbvb [243 posts]
17th December 2013 - 10:15

19 Likes

vbvb wrote:
a.jumper wrote:
stop their refusal to discuss traffic policing with cycle groups until all cyclists have lights.
They've said that in print somewhere?

No, not in print, but in person at an event and tweeted by multiple witnesses including https://mobile.twitter.com/BristolCycling/status/410837931876970497 - cue hasty backpedalling by the commissioner's office like https://mobile.twitter.com/AandSPCC/status/411445976449024000 - but this is just the latest in a series of similar outrages from the Bristol-covering Avon and Somerset Police.

posted by a.jumper [704 posts]
17th December 2013 - 14:49

11 Likes

Interesting. Thanks for the insight. Good luck with your awful public servants there, what a bunch! Thank goodness for Twitter though, a force for democracy in this case, I think.

posted by vbvb [243 posts]
17th December 2013 - 15:05

10 Likes

jarredscycling wrote:
Why exactly would you build out speed cameras and then deactivate them in the first place. I would argue they will be ineffective at anything other than generating revenue when back on though

The cameras in Bristol were funded by a road safety fund of some form from central government. Present cuts led to this funding being withdrawn with the council expected to pick up the bill despite not getting any of the revenue from the cameras to pay for their up keep and maintenance. I think the Police get the money from or for the speeders who volunteer to take the speed awareness course instead of the points and make money off these courses. I believe the Police in this incidence are funding the switch-on after prolonged negotiations with the cash strapped council and will also pay for the up-keep and maintenance of the cameras.

posted by sam_smith [49 posts]
18th December 2013 - 1:03

11 Likes

Have to take issue with a.jumper's comments above. The Independent Police Commissioner Sue Mountstevens made some comments along the lines of "use lights, otherwise you'll increase road rage" at the recent Road Safety Summit. While I thought these were a bit of a dodge round the real issues, it's not quite the same as saying " we won't discuss road safety with you". The Chief Constable for Bristol has recently met with the local cycling campaign to discuss the CTC Road Justice campaign, which the force has endorsed. The police aren't just sticking their fingers in their ears here.

posted by Mr Agreeable [142 posts]
18th December 2013 - 17:09

10 Likes

Maybe things have changed since they refused to act on a road rage attack (not because I was unlit: it was daytime) in Somerset but even the weaker comment Mr Agreeable reports is just another in a long line of cyclist-bashing comments from Commissioner Mountstevens. Road rage should not be tolerated, even if it's directed at some tosser doing do-nuts in a 4x4 outside a primary school. Stop them if you can safely, but get some traffic police to do the job!

posted by a.jumper [704 posts]
18th December 2013 - 19:02

9 Likes