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20’s Plenty For Us points to WHO recommendation that 20mph is the right speed limit where vehicles conflict with pedestrians and cyclists

Not for profit organisation 20’s Plenty For Us has accused road safety charity IAM RoadSmart of attempting to ‘undermine’ 20mph speed limits. The campaign group has taken issue with IAM RoadSmart’s recent claim that “widespread confusion over 20mph may be undermining a more general trend to slow down.”

Responding to recent government speed compliance statistics which indicated that 81 per cent of car drivers exceeded the speed limit on 20mph roads, IAM RoadSmart’s director of policy and research, Neil Greig, said that there was a problem, “getting drivers to comply on the ever increasing number of roads in our towns and cities with a 20mph limit.”

IAM RoadSmart is against “blanket 20mph limits” and wholesale changes in the urban limit from 30mph to 20mph.

A policy document states its position as being that distributor roads should always remain as 30mph or above and that the key requirement of any 20mph zone must be that it is “self-enforcing” through signposting that makes sense or traffic calming features.

That document adds: “Research suggests that drivers use the clues from the environment around them to judge the correct speed. Where limits do not match the environment uncertainty and confusion are generated which can raise stress levels and provide an unwelcome distraction from safe driving and lead to a wider disrespect for limits.”

Rod King MBE, the founder and campaign director for 20’s Plenty for Us, took issue with IAM RoadSmart’s position.

“IAM RoadSmart would be more credible if they called on all speed limits to be obeyed rather than trying to undermine 20mph speed limits where people live, work, shop, play and learn. The call for default 20mph limits with exceptions is echoed by many health and road safety organisations, including WHO saying that 30kmh (20mph) is the right speed limit where vehicles conflict with pedestrians and cyclists.”

King also took aim at the government report, arguing that the 20mph roads included were not representative.

“The nine 20mph roads detailed in this report have very little in common with most residential and high street roads where communities set 20mph speed limits to make them safer and more comfortable.

“Even then, this report shows that compliance on these nine roads is improving. IAM RoadSmart keep complaining about “blanket 20mph limits” yet most authorities are using discretion to exclude such roads as this report references or add the appropriate engineering or enforcement to gain compliance.”

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37 comments

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brooksby [2576 posts] 3 months ago
5 likes

I think that Mr King may have hit the nail on the head, there; IAM Roadsafe rather sounds like apologists for the status quo (but I'm sure some of their best friends are cyclists, or something...)

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oldstrath [848 posts] 3 months ago
9 likes

So according to this bunch of apologists for killers, it's the business of drivers  to judge the "correct speed", rather than actually to obey the law.I wonder if they'd be equally happy to allow burglars to decide what is the correct number of houses to burgle?

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FluffyKittenofT... [1792 posts] 3 months ago
4 likes

I'm surprised to find I think the IAM have a partial point, at least with that 'self-enforcing' bit.

Road design that intrinsicly makes high-speeds difficult or hard to attain is surely preferable to just relying on signs? Things like getting rid of stupid motorway-slip-road-style junctions in favour of more right-angled turns might help. I'm sure there are other things that can be done that don't rely on concious obedience to signs.

At the same time, a bit of enforcement _might_ manage to establish a social norm of lower speeds in cities, which seems to be 20isplenty's position. Not really sure myself.

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Morgoth985 [82 posts] 3 months ago
10 likes

Memo for IAM Roadsmart.  I don't know what research you're looking at but maybe a quick peep at the KSI stats might help.  Drivers do not use clues from the environment to judge the correct speed.  They use clues from the environment to judge what speed they think they can get away with.  The number of fatalities and serious injuries resulting from excessive speed would seem to hint that maybe their judgement isn't 100% sound.

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pablo [193 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

It been proven time and time again people drive to the road condition not the posted speed.The only way to slow people down is to slow the road

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alan sherman [9 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

I'm a bit torn on this. On the one hand the residential area I live in has a 20 limit. I agree. But the main road between Hammersmith and shepherds Bush in London had just sprouted 20 signs. It is a main road. Also 20 puts cars and cyclists in more conflict sometimes. When the 20 limit was introduced in Richmond park it made the cars hold up the cyclists which had led to lots of dodgy cyclist overtaking.

20 never feels right in a car too. It seems somewhere between 1st and 2nd gear.

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Cozz [9 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes

Speed limits won't work. Most accidents involve nobs that aren't obeying road rules anyway. They may be stupid, drunk, drugged or entitled 3rd world dicks in a super car bought by daddy.  

Start by limiting cars for drivers under 35 to a power-to-weight ratio of say 60kw/tonne. 

Reduce vehicle max width. Narrow cars mean more  side space on narrow roads.

Ban all safety equipment from cars - no airbags, seatbelts crumple zones etc. Replace with a 12 inch spike sticking out of the centre of the steering wheel.

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melliott [21 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes
Cozz wrote:

Ban all safety equipment from cars - no airbags, seatbelts crumple zones etc. Replace with a 12 inch spike sticking out of the centre of the steering wheel.

I think you could be on to something here with steering wheel spike. It would be far more efficient at preventing falling asleep at the wheel. I would imagine mildly punctured councillors might also look to repair potholes a lot sooner. However, you just know you'll find spike-mounted phone holders on Amazon within days.

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ChasP [19 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

I agree with the IAM I often drive at less than 30 through estates etc where appropriate but do also sometimes exceed limits on wide clear roads, there are few 20 limits near me though. Constantly looking for signs must take your attention from the road.

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OldMixte [75 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes

Lots of 20s in Bristol even on the main commuting routes where children don't play in the middle of the road, the original reason for their introduction and widely ignored.
. The safest speed is that at which 85% of motorists would use if there were no speed limits. Go up or down from that and you increase the accident rate, so no doubt some of the 20 limits will increase accident rates.
. But Hey, never mind the facts just use emotions.
In Avon and Somerset the accident rates dropped by 25% when the speed cameras were switched off, and what did our local councillors vote for? Yes you have guessed correctly, switch them back on and of course introduce advertising signs on roundabouts, the most dangerous places for cyclists.
. When you look at the siting of some of the speed cameras it is obvious they are there to get funds, e.g, On a dual carriageway with massive central barrier, with separate pedestrian paths and no crossings or traffic lights near, and no accident record at that location. They only catch the non locals, the locals slow down pass the camera and speed up again.
. I much prefer a car overtaking me and giving me plenty of room even if it means exceeding the speed limits, it’s the ones that creep by with inches to spare that worry me.
. If they really wanted to reduce the accident rates at those spots they need to make sure the drivers know there is a camera, so they can slow down. At one time they were painted yellow and black but I guess the cash declined so now they are just yellow and don’t particularly stand out. It’s no good fining someone after an accident where personal injury is involved, they need to stop the injuries in the first place, but that would need some money spent on road engineering effort to solve the problems.
End of Rant

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ktache [627 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes

It's not about children playing in the road, it's about where childeren or anyone else might be. who don't want to be next to where drivers get to decide what could be a "relevant" speed.

It's about turning our roads back into streets, pleasent places to be, not just drive through.  I'm into a great deal more filtered pemability, stopping rat runs and their impatient motorists.

I was listening to Jeremy Vine the other day, and wanted to be more shocked by the number of drivers who lack so much skill and ability, that they cannot control their vehicles in a legally acceptable and defined manner.

And most of all it's about saving and not destroying lives.

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tarquin_foxglove [164 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
ktache wrote:

I was listening to Jeremy Vine the other day, and wanted to be more shocked by the number of drivers who lack so much skill and ability, that they cannot control their vehicles in a legally acceptable and defined manner.

I can't believe how many people are quite happy to anounce that they are unable to drive at 20mph without keeping a constant watch on the speedo (so they won't see the kiddiewinks run out and when they kill one, it won't be their fault it will be the fault of the evil council, so there) and having previously expressed no interest in green issues suddenly become an eco-warrior moaning about the extra emissions & pollution caused by having to do 20 & not a smooth steady 55mph half a mile down the road to the local shop.

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oldstrath [848 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
OldMixte wrote:

The safest speed is that at which 85% of motorists would use if there were no speed limits. Go up or down from that and you increase the accident rate, so no doubt some of the 20 limits will increase accident rates. .,

I'm not sure how you'd acquire evidence for such a claim, but is there any? You also seem to ignore the point that if cars were all restricted to 10 mph, although the impatients might make more incidents, the consequences of these would be much less severe.

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Simon E [3095 posts] 3 months ago
4 likes
tarquin_foxglove wrote:

I can't believe how many people are quite happy to anounce that they are unable to drive at 20mph without keeping a constant watch on the speedo

I've seen the same rubbish trotted out repeatedly for 30 and 40 mph limits.

However, they manage just fine to keep a lid on their speed if they think a Gatso or mobile speed camera is nearby. Arseholes.

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OldMixte [75 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
oldstrath wrote:
OldMixte wrote:

The safest speed is that at which 85% of motorists would use if there were no speed limits. Go up or down from that and you increase the accident rate, so no doubt some of the 20 limits will increase accident rates. .,

I'm not sure how you'd acquire evidence for such a claim, but is there any? You also seem to ignore the point that if cars were all restricted to 10 mph, although the impatients might make more incidents, the consequences of these would be much less severe.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_limit

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OldMixte [75 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
Simon E wrote:
tarquin_foxglove wrote:

I can't believe how many people are quite happy to anounce that they are unable to drive at 20mph without keeping a constant watch on the speedo

I've seen the same rubbish trotted out repeatedly for 30 and 40 mph limits.

However, they manage just fine to keep a lid on their speed if they think a Gatso or mobile speed camera is nearby. Arseholes.

My car in 4th, does 25 mph without touching the accelerator, the slightest touch can send me over the 30. If you were to check the speeds in 20mph areas, judging by my observations less than 1% obey the limits including the police. The defence against hitting a pedestrian was that I was checking my speed. It takes around 2 seconds to do that and a lot can happen in those 2 seconds, like a child running out into the road.

By the way I am not against sensible speed limits.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1792 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
OldMixte wrote:

. The safest speed is that at which 85% of motorists would use if there were no speed limits. Go up or down from that and you increase the accident rate, so no doubt some of the 20 limits will increase accident rates.

The problem with this theory (which, though people keep citing it, is not really evidence-based, as far as I can tell it's just a rule-of-thumb invented from nothing at all a long time ago by US road-planners) is that it leaves the judgement about speed entirely to motorists.

85% of motorists will choose a speed based on an instinctive balance between convenience and their own safety. The safety of those outside the vehicle does not get given the same weight in this judgement. That is a bit of a problem.

Furthermore, in relation to urban roads (rather than motorways) you can't just look at the accident rate, you have to look at the effect on suppressing other travel modes and on the quality of life of the locals.

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FluffyKittenofT... [1792 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
OldMixte wrote:

My car in 4th, does 25 mph without touching the accelerator, the slightest touch can send me over the 30. If you were to check the speeds in 20mph areas, judging by my observations less than 1% obey the limits including the police. The defence against hitting a pedestrian was that I was checking my speed. It takes around 2 seconds to do that and a lot can happen in those 2 seconds, like a child running out into the road.

By the way I am not against sensible speed limits.

Why is it everyone else's problem that you have a crap car?

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ktache [627 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

Couldn't you use a lower gear?

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FluffyKittenofT... [1792 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
OldMixte wrote:
oldstrath wrote:
OldMixte wrote:

The safest speed is that at which 85% of motorists would use if there were no speed limits. Go up or down from that and you increase the accident rate, so no doubt some of the 20 limits will increase accident rates. .,

I'm not sure how you'd acquire evidence for such a claim, but is there any? You also seem to ignore the point that if cars were all restricted to 10 mph, although the impatients might make more incidents, the consequences of these would be much less severe.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_limit

Did you forget to include the rest of your post where you actually addressed the point?

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P3t3 [413 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
ktache wrote:

It's not about children playing in the road, it's about where childeren or anyone else might be. who don't want to be next to where drivers get to decide what could be a "relevant" speed.

It's about turning our roads back into streets, pleasent places to be, not just drive through.  I'm into a great deal more filtered pemability, stopping rat runs and their impatient motorists.

And most of all it's about saving and not destroying lives.

 

Totally agree, but the way that it is currently implemented is dumb.  I have to say that I routinely don't stick to the 20 limit, the ones I drive on are exactly the same street as before (major through route with high vehicle counts) just with a 20 badge on not a 30.  I would welcome measures to change the street to slow me down and reduce traffic volumes.  In addition the police are specifically briefed not to enforce 20 (why?)....

 

Thinking further on this I'm in an interesting situation at the moment where I need to drive to get to the hospital regularly and I simply couldn't do it by bike (too far) and it would be very inefficient to my employer (think loosing 3/4 of a day rather than 2 hours) for me to go by PT.  However for most things I can't walk very far but I can ride a bike so the bike has actually turned into disability aid for the 0-2 mile trips.  I'm covering two of the classic anti bikes arguments at once, namely "because I NEED to drive" and that "bikes don't help the disabled".  

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fenix [739 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes
ChasP wrote:

I agree with the IAM I often drive at less than 30 through estates etc where appropriate but do also sometimes exceed limits on wide clear roads, there are few 20 limits near me though. Constantly looking for signs must take your attention from the road.

Aren't you meant to be constantly looking for hazards though ? Kids running out ? Pedestrians on the pavement ?  Maybe driving isn't for you after all ?

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fenix [739 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes
OldMixte wrote:

[. The defence against hitting a pedestrian was that I was checking my speed. It takes around 2 seconds to do that and a lot can happen in those 2 seconds, like a child running out into the road. By the way I am not against sensible speed limits.

Hand in your licence.   Why would it take 2 seconds to check your speed ?  You're not fit to be on the roads. 

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Grahamd [663 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

Most 20 mph zones that I know have some traffic calming measures such as speed bumps, so there is no excuse for not knowing the limit.

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jh27 [96 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
oldstrath wrote:

So according to this bunch of apologists for killers, it's the business of drivers  to judge the "correct speed", rather than actually to obey the law.I wonder if they'd be equally happy to allow burglars to decide what is the correct number of houses to burgle?

 

Unfortunately it is often down to the motorist to judge the correct speed.  No reminders are required for 20mph zones.  The signs on the entry to a 20mph zone are often in the junction where the motorist has a lot of other information to take in.  Even in zones where reminder signs are required (e.g. 40, 50 mph zones), they are often obscured, faded or missing (maybe were never there to start with).  Simple solution would be to make 20 the default.  Obviously, the best 20 zones have the speed limit painted on the road at regular intervals.

 

[rant]My personal opinion is that most roads should have a 20 limit.  The average speed of a motor vehicle in a town generally less than that, it would mostly just reduce the amount of time motorists spend waiting at trafic lights and junctions.  Building cycle lanes and shared use paths everywhere is not feasible, and we have a hard enough time getting them built where it is feasible.  Yes we should have 8-80 cycle infrastructure, but the truth is we do - it is called the road, and it is where all cyclists are generally required to cycle, by law.

 

I don't think that putting in obstacles is the correct answer, as things such as speed bumps generally have much more effect on cyclists than they have on motor vehicles.  Motorists will often speed up to thirty, then slow to ten for the bump and then speed up to thirty again.  Motorists should learn to use second gear - obviously tricky if you are in an automatic that has no manual override, but these are quite rare these days.

 

At present, I find that when I cycle on the road, the speed limit is me (that is when I'm not the only thing moving, as often seems to be the case).  The roads where I live generally not wide enough for a car to pass a cyclist without using the oncoming lane, unless they are cycling in the gutter - and the traffic levels often preclude overtaking using the oncoming lane.  If we ever get to the levels of cycling that we as a nation require, then 30 mph will become largely unchievable in most towns and cities*, except for cyclists and motorcyclists (who can share lanes more easily), and at very quite times of the night/early morning.  So why not just bite the bullet and introduce 20 limits now?

 

* heck, 30 mph is rarely achievable at the moment, at least, not for very long[/rant]

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jh27 [96 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
OldMixte wrote:

My car in 4th, does 25 mph without touching the accelerator, the slightest touch can send me over the 30. If you were to check the speeds in 20mph areas, judging by my observations less than 1% obey the limits including the police. The defence against hitting a pedestrian was that I was checking my speed. It takes around 2 seconds to do that and a lot can happen in those 2 seconds, like a child running out into the road. By the way I am not against sensible speed limits.

 

Yes, that is why learner drivers are taught to use third gear in 30 mph zones.  This has been the advice for a long time, 4th gear for cruising in a 30 zone hasn't been recommended for many years.  In a 20 zone you should be in 2nd gear.  As the name suggest, there are gears other than 4th gear, even most automatic cars come with a manual selector nowadays.

 

Surely it doesn't take you 2 seconds to glance at the speedometer?  Is it in roman numerals or something or do you just need better glasses?

 

Maintaining a speed of 20mph, like tying your shoe laces, and wiping your own bottom, gets a lot easier practice.  If you have difficulty with it, you should practice it more often or return your driving license.

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oldstrath [848 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
OldMixte wrote:
oldstrath wrote:
OldMixte wrote:

The safest speed is that at which 85% of motorists would use if there were no speed limits. Go up or down from that and you increase the accident rate, so no doubt some of the 20 limits will increase accident rates. .,

I'm not sure how you'd acquire evidence for such a claim, but is there any? You also seem to ignore the point that if cars were all restricted to 10 mph, although the impatients might make more incidents, the consequences of these would be much less severe.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_limit

A site which offers no evidence I could see. The 85% rule appears to be based on the bizarre assumption that most motorists are "reasonable",  completely ignoring the impact on non motorists.

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Mungecrundle [866 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

What the IAM tend to forget is that the rules are made to inform the average motorist who has probably taken no further interest in being trained to be a better driver since they passed their driving test.

Personally I have no difficulty in driving at 20mph even when there is a higher speed limit, but then again I have passed IAM qualifications as a motorcyclist and through work. 20mph limits, where appropriate, are an important step towards reclaiming the urban environment from the motor car, making it a; safer, quiter, cleaner and more pleasant place to be for everyone.

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jh27 [96 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
ChasP wrote:

I agree with the IAM I often drive at less than 30 through estates etc where appropriate but do also sometimes exceed limits on wide clear roads, there are few 20 limits near me though. Constantly looking for signs must take your attention from the road.

Most twenty limits are twenty zones, and are only required to have signs on the entry point. The newer ones often have the speed limit painted on the road, which is surely cheaper and more effective than putting signs up.

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Bigfoz [140 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes
OldMixte wrote:
Simon E wrote:
tarquin_foxglove wrote:

I can't believe how many people are quite happy to anounce that they are unable to drive at 20mph without keeping a constant watch on the speedo

I've seen the same rubbish trotted out repeatedly for 30 and 40 mph limits.

However, they manage just fine to keep a lid on their speed if they think a Gatso or mobile speed camera is nearby. Arseholes.

My car in 4th, does 25 mph without touching the accelerator, the slightest touch can send me over the 30. If you were to check the speeds in 20mph areas, judging by my observations less than 1% obey the limits including the police. The defence against hitting a pedestrian was that I was checking my speed. It takes around 2 seconds to do that and a lot can happen in those 2 seconds, like a child running out into the road. By the way I am not against sensible speed limits.

 

Use 3rd then.

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