Brighton traffic wars: crashes down overall, but more cyclist & pedestrian incidents after 20mph limit comes in

Latest in ongoing row of business vs Greens over 20mph zones

by John Stevenson   December 17, 2013  

20mph sign (CC licensed by EdinburghGreens via Flickr)

 

The ongoing stoush between Brighton’s business and motoring groups, and the Green-run council has a new battleground as the two sides argue about the effect of 20mph speed limits on the incidence of crashes in the seaside town.

A report in The Argus says that the number of crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists on city centre roads has gone up since 20mph restrictions were introduced, although overall crashes have been reduced.

In the first six months of the 20mph zone this year there were 129 crashes compared to 145 for the same period in 2012 and 168 in 2011.

Cyclists were involved in 48 crashes in the six months after the 20mph zones were introduced on April 8, and 44 in the same period last year, and crashes involved pedestrians increased from 35 to 40.

Councillor Ian Davey, lead member for transport, said: “It is impossible to know what would have happened if we hadn’t done anything.

“But we do know that measures have been taken over the last few years including lower speed limits and that the number of people killed and injured on roads in the city are going down.

“It’s not realistic for the rate of col¬lisions to continue declining at an increasing pace.

“20mph is not an idea peculiar to Brighton and Hove, one in six UK residents live in a 20mph street.”

Steve Percy, of the People’s Parking Protest, said: “The argument for these zones was that it would protect people, but these figures show it doesn’t seem to have done that.”

He added: “It seems these figures cannot justify the amount of money spent on introducing the scheme.

“The council should consider not bringing in the other phases because on this evidence it will achieve very little if anything at all.”

The new speed limits have been unpopular with some businesses in Brighton. In September a lobby group of tourism businesses and cab firms took ads in the Argus accusing the council of launching a ‘war on motorists’.

Campaign group 20's Plenty says that reduced speed limits help make tourist towns friendlier for visitors and are a proven means to improve road safety and increase street amenity.

22 user comments

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Surely these numbers are pretty meaningless without knowing how the traffic mix has changed. You could equally argue (with the numbers as reported by the Argus) that cycling and pedestrian numbers have gone up so the rate of accidents is lower.

Or that the number may be higher but the severity lower.

Its all just froth spun whichever way you like. Strange that that should come from such an august journal of record like the Argus

posted by Anoxia [5 posts]
17th December 2013 - 14:22

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A quick look at the People’s Parking Protest Facebook page gives a pretty good indication of their attitudes. Almost everything is flagged as part of an ongoing conspiracy to attack the rights and freedoms of the motorist. Their apparent fixation on their disappearing 'rights' seems to encompass almost everything from greater pedestrianisation of the Laines, cycle paths, bus lanes and parking tickets.

There will always be a petty minority who don't want change and can't or won't accept others' points of view. Sadly, they have probably been given more publicity than the actual number of people they really represent - a whopping 85 Facebook likes at the moment - if that's anything to go by.

Move along - there's nothing to see here.

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posted by mr-andrew [294 posts]
17th December 2013 - 14:52

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Lower speed limits reduce accidents and their severity only if they are enforced. It would be interesting if we were told how many of the accidents involved people driving over the speed limit. The speed limit may have changed, but I know attitudes to speed limits have not.

posted by Mart [95 posts]
17th December 2013 - 15:46

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We have a similar issue with 20mph zones in London.

A lot of drivers simply ignore the limits in 20mph zones anyway. There's a 20mph limit on one section of my route to and from work. If I'm on the motorbike or in the car I'll stick to 20mph as it has speed bumps and going any faster would knock the hell out of the suspension. But I regularly get tailgated along that road by other drivers who are wanting to overtake, presumably as they get some sort of kick out of getting their vehicle airborne? When I cycle along that same road to take my sons to their football training as it's just round the corner, I take the lane and get cars tailgating me as well.

This is supposed to be a cycle-friendly route and is the road Herne Hille velodrome is on (Burbage Road). But you wouldn't think so by the way some numpties drive along it.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2132 posts]
17th December 2013 - 15:47

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OldRidgeback wrote:
We have a similar issue with 20mph zones in London.

We have a similar issue with 20mph zones in Devon.

Drive anywhere at the speed limit and you end up with some tit tailgating and weaving round like they think speed limits don't apply to them.

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posted by William Black [196 posts]
17th December 2013 - 15:56

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@oldRidgeBack

the 20mph limits in London are a bad joke really?

I live in LB Camden, which is one of 2 boroughs in London to have adopted a blanket 20mph speed limit across the entire borough

in recent interviews with the 'Camden New Journal' newspaper, the police commander for the borough admitted he does not have the resources to police this limit in his borough

you will see this on the streets of LB Camden, with numerous drivers speeding whenever possible, using smart phones whilst driving, red light gambling and acting very aggressively towards pedestrians and cyclists

the council have now come under criticism for stupid installation of '20 MPH' paint on dead end roads or very narrow cobbled roads

as if paint would make any reasonable difference to motorists who ignore traffic lights and pedestrian crossings, anyhow...

posted by hampstead_bandit [122 posts]
17th December 2013 - 16:57

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I commute through Brighton daily by bike. There are very few cars and motor vehicles that obey the 20 mph speed limit. I've never seen any enforcement either.

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posted by jaslegoff [1 posts]
17th December 2013 - 17:10

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I've been following the whole 20mph thing in Brighton, over the months and, frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if it some of those "accidents" were actually deliberate, as a reprisal against cyclists by those annoyed by the new speed limits. There are some seriously nasty people out there, whose resentment of cyclists is heightened by these new limits, resentment which manifests itself through punishment passes and other aggressive behaviour.

I must be obvious to anyone who doesn't have a vested interest in keeping speed limits high, that slower vehicles mean more time to avoid accidents. Arguments to the contrary, and particularly ones spouted by many "anti 20" lobbyists in Brighton, provide an illuminating insight into the sort of people we might come up against when out on the road.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

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posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
17th December 2013 - 19:50

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jaslegoff wrote:
I commute through Brighton daily by bike. There are very few cars and motor vehicles that obey the 20 mph speed limit. I've never seen any enforcement either.
The same thing happened in Oxford, until residents started to complain. Then it all came out that the Police didn't have the resources, but they were embarrassed sufficiently to start enforcing the new limits.

The key to enforcement is to demand it loudly enough, and regularly enough, until the cost in public relations becomes higher that the cost of the resources deployed to restore those public relations.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

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posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
17th December 2013 - 19:55

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Very few commercial vehicles don't have the telemetry required to enforce they adhere to speed limits, either actively whilst there on the road or at the very least retrospectively using the data record.

If they all stuck to limits the maximum speed of traffic would soon reduce to the limits.

posted by IanW1968 [134 posts]
17th December 2013 - 19:57

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To Neil753 "I wouldn't be surprised if it some of those "accidents" were actually deliberate,"
You can't be serious.

Seemingly the vast majority of commentators are reporting the 20mph speed limits are not policed, it doesn't explain the accident statistics which I feel are not particularly accurate given the relative short timescale of reporting.
The increase in pedestrian crashes (novel conception "pedestrians crashing") is possibly a subjective thought by humans that if the speeds are reduced then they may feel safer and take a greater risk. Just a view before aggressive keyboard warriors launch their attack.

posted by Guyz2010 [281 posts]
17th December 2013 - 21:00

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Guyz2010 wrote:
To Neil753 "I wouldn't be surprised if it some of those "accidents" were actually deliberate,"
You can't be serious.
I'm very serious. It happens all the time, either deliberately or as a result of a punishment pass that turns into an actual accident. Crashes even happen so that the cyclist can be robbed. Gang culture often involves bikes, presenting an easy target for a rival gang in a car. There's also an increasing trend for sabotage, such as tacks on the road and wire stretched across cycle paths. Plus, of course, there's all the instances where cyclists have been chased, but have managed to evade a collision. There will be others who exagerate their injuries, skewing the statistics in an upward direction, or even staging accidents to claim compensation. And finally, there will be people who have suffered a kicking, but turn up at hospital saying they fell off their bike.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

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posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
17th December 2013 - 21:35

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A lot of drivers simply ignore the limits in 20mph zones anyway. There's a 20mph limit on one section of my route to and from work.

The Dutch are well aware that 20mph alone doesn't make a street cycle-friendly. They also remove or reduce through-motor-traffic, making it much less likely that you get tailgated because all the motor traffic is local.

posted by fluffy_mike [79 posts]
17th December 2013 - 21:43

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Neil753
Not sure (or need to know) where you live, but a am aware of some of the things you state, however I know not one person having been exposed to any of the stuff you refer to. It would be all over the headlines of local press. I live in a city and read the local press but cannot recall anything of this nature. Extreme indeed. Surely if the victims of gangs creating crashes would have said something. I hardly believe this is the case.

posted by Guyz2010 [281 posts]
17th December 2013 - 21:51

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Guyz2010 wrote:
Neil753
Not sure (or need to know) where you live, but a am aware of some of the things you state, however I know not one person having been exposed to any of the stuff you refer to. It would be all over the headlines of local press. I live in a city and read the local press but cannot recall anything of this nature. Extreme indeed. Surely if the victims of gangs creating crashes would have said something. I hardly believe this is the case.
Guy, this sort of thing tends to happen in urban areas, with poor segregation and infrastructure, with drug and "nightlife" issues, where poor live cheek by jowl with the rich, where there's a diverse population, and where there is a sizeable resentment shown towards any measures that encourage cycling.

Just like Brighton, in fact.

I appreciate this sort of thing isn't at the forefront of any many cyclists' minds, but the more you search for it, the more it becomes apparent that there's plenty of really bad stuff going on. I suggested that it may be affecting the figures because Brighton arguably offers more potential for this type of statistical "skewing" than any other large town I can think of.

And I would also say, especially with the increase in injury exageration in our increasingly compensation aware society, and given how easily a minor accident can be recorded a a major one, that we should all take this slight blip in the statistics with a pinch of salt.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

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posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
17th December 2013 - 22:13

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True but the figures are too short a period as I noted. Still think I'd rather be knocked down by a car doing 20 than 30mph. The reported cycling and pedestrian increases from 44 to 48 and 35 to 40 respectively are hardly significant and like you say could be effected by other factors.
Having re-read the article it seems to have errors "Steve Percy, of the People’s Parking Protest, said: “The argument for these zones was that it would protect people, but these figures show it doesn’t seem to have done that.”"
Above that it stated the crashes had fallen from 168 to 145 then to 129. Am I being stupid.....don't answer that.

posted by Guyz2010 [281 posts]
17th December 2013 - 22:28

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@ Guyz2010 - I agree that it's too short a time period.

Those that are triumphantly drawing attention to these figures, in a ridiculous move to claim that lower speed limits are in some way more dangerous, are at risk of being ever more marginalised politically once longer term stats show the inevitable benefits of a 20 limit.

At the end of the day, even primary school children would understand that slower speeds mean less severe injuries and, crucially, more opportunity to either avoid a collision, or reduce the impact speed of that collision.

Personally, I'd like to see 20 become the norm on all streets that are currently 30, and 40 max for country lanes; enforced not by fixed cameras but by hidden mobile units, with a day in jail for each mile per hour over the limit, but I appreciate that might be seen as extreme Wink

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

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posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
17th December 2013 - 22:59

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Guyz2010 wrote:
Neil753
I know not one person having been exposed to any of the stuff you refer to. It would be all over the headlines of local press. I live in a city and read the local press but cannot recall anything of this nature.
.

http://road.cc/content/news/95691-suspended-sentence-motorist-who-used-c...

http://road.cc/content/news/84832-suspended-sentence-driver-who-used-cam...

http://road.cc/content/news/17331-road-rage-driver-gets-life-murdering-c...

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

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posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
17th December 2013 - 23:07

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Neil753 wrote:

Guy, this sort of thing tends to happen in urban areas, with poor segregation and infrastructure, with drug and "nightlife" issues, where poor live cheek by jowl with the rich, where there's a diverse population, and where there is a sizeable resentment shown towards any measures that encourage cycling.

Just like Brighton, in fact.

I appreciate this sort of thing isn't at the forefront of any many cyclists' minds, but the more you search for it, the more it becomes apparent that there's plenty of really bad stuff going on. I suggested that it may be affecting the figures because Brighton arguably offers more potential for this type of statistical "skewing" than any other large town I can think of.

i've lived and ridden a bike in Brighton for most of my life and i've never had anything like this happen to me, and i've ever heard it happen to anyone else, as a city it's quite a benign place for that sort of thing

i'd like to offer a more prosaic reason for the slight increase in incidents - the weather

the six months since April this year from which the statistics are taken saw the best Summer we've had in years, which led to significantly more pedal and pedestrian traffic in the town, i have no figures for this just the experience of finding it harder to find somewhere to lock my bike up, and having to weave through the crowds

more people, more interaction, more incidents

posted by VecchioJo [740 posts]
18th December 2013 - 10:33

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The numbers are completely meaningless by themselves. How many journeys were made? How long were these journeys? Is this an increase or decrease on the previous year/months? What was the severity of these incidents, and how does that compare to the 30mph days?

There's also the question of whether the speed limit was being observed at the time of the collision. You can't blame a 20mph zone if a driver ignores it. Was speed a factor in any of the collisions anyway?

However, statistically accurate (or meaningful) reporting doesn't make headlines.

posted by teaboy [149 posts]
18th December 2013 - 11:16

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The prosecution bit is the problem in the UK, our police forces tend too frequently to tick people off rather than issue a ticket. Australian police for instance take a tougher line of 'commit an offence and get caught then expect a ticket'.

posted by Guyz2010 [281 posts]
18th December 2013 - 15:51

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If the 20 limits are doing what they were designed to do - get more people out walking or cycling instead of in their cars - you would expect a slight rise in accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians, notwithstanding the reduced risk due to slower speeds.

The car lobby whinging about these stats is reminiscent of the "Association of British Drivers" which sent out a press release last year - snapped up by gullible and lazy journalists at newspapers like the Sun - stating that the number of accidents in 20 limit areas had risen while those in 30 areas had fallen slightly. Of coursethey failed to mention that the total mileage of 20 limit roads had also increased substantially. The same statistic per mile of road would have shown accidents in 20 areas being significantly lower than those in 30 areas.

posted by Paul M [306 posts]
22nd December 2013 - 13:18

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