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Institute of Adavanced motorists backs selective 20mph zones, CTC wants it as default urban limit

Road safety charity IAM says that two thirds of 4,000 people who responded to an online survey it conducted back the introduction of 20mph zones outside schools, but are less keen on physical measures such as cameras or speed bumps being implemented to enforce such a speed limit. IAM adds that it supports the selective introduction of 20mph limits, but national cyclists’ organisation CTC disagrees, favouring it as the default speed limit in urban and residential locations.

Four in ten of those surveyed said that 20mph signs would be the best way to enforce the limit, while only one in five backed the introduction of speed cameras and a similar proportion supported a combination of cameras and road bumps to calm traffic.

Some 38 per cent of respondents said that 20mph zones should be introduced on roads with amenities such as parks and shops, but only one in four supported it being made the default speed limit in urban areas. And while 43 per cent would like to see such a speed limit on the road they live on, only slightly fewer – 39 per cent – opposed that.

IAM head of road safety Kevin Delaney said: “The IAM supports the selective use of 20mph speed limits where there is clear evidence that the risk of casualties will be reduced. But blanket 20mph speed limits or limits at inappropriate sites risk widespread disregard by drivers who do not recognise a necessity for them. Consultation with, and buy-in from, local people here is essential.

“Passive enforcement measures, such as speed bumps, are unpopular and active enforcement by police is unrealistic in the current financial climate. If lower speed limits are restricted to locations and times where there is an obvious need, responsible drivers, who are the overwhelming majority, will adhere to them without the need for enforcement.”

IAM also quoted advanced motorist Rob Raikes, 66, who said: “In Southampton where there is a city wide 20 mph limit, motorists have found that the average journey time has increased by a very small amount, and that the stress of driving has reduced by quite a large one. Our streets should be for people, not cars.”

CTC said that while it welcomed the fact that IAM’s members backed 20mph limits, it supported “blanket implementation” rather than what it termed “the patchwork approach.”

CTC's Campaigns and Policy Director Roger Geffen commented: "The adoption of 20mph as the default speed limit in urban and residential areas is the opportunity to redefine the spaces between our homes, changing them from 'roads' to 'streets'. With lower speeds, dangerous thoroughfares become public spaces where it’s easier to walk, cycle, socialise and play. People know more of their neighbours in low speed streets and property prices are higher, while 20mph is enough for vehicles to make progress.

"Blanket 20mph beats a patchwork of zones: residents see a bigger return because more people buy in."
 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

10 comments

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Oh heck... [47 posts] 4 years ago
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Iteresting how only 20% are keen on enforcing them though...

I kinda translate that as "well, of course we should have 20 mph limits outside schools, but I'm a safe driver, so I can of course drive a little quicker than everyone else. But I'll not be able to if there is any enforcement..."

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cavasta [216 posts] 4 years ago
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"...responsible drivers, who are the overwhelming majority, will adhere to [20mph speed limits] without the need for enforcement.”

So why are they against enforcement then? Unless, of course, the overwhelming majority of those responding to the survey aren't responsible drivers.

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Chuck [528 posts] 4 years ago
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Oh heck... wrote:

Iteresting how only 20% are keen on enforcing them though...

I kinda translate that as "well, of course we should have 20 mph limits outside schools, but I'm a safe driver, so I can of course drive a little quicker than everyone else. But I'll not be able to if there is any enforcement..."

I though the same, just like most drivers would probably be in favour of everybody else not using their cars so much.

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zoxed [64 posts] 4 years ago
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> So why are they against enforcement then? Unless, of course, the overwhelming majority of those responding to the survey aren't responsible drivers.

I agree, and would take it a step further: why do not the "overwhelming majority" just drive 20mph near schools etc, irrespective of the posted limits (which, of course, are limits, not targets !!).

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spen [126 posts] 4 years ago
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Interesting that the PM is spouting forth on the possibility of introducing zero tolerance policing. I would be willing to bet that the greatest number of infringments of the law are carried out behind the wheel of a car.

You can just hear the association of british drivers (or whatever they call themselves) squealing how unfair that would be - the police should after all be chasing real law breakers

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spen [126 posts] 4 years ago
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"AM also quoted advanced motorist Rob Raikes, 66, who said: “In Southampton where there is a city wide 20 mph limit, motorists have found that the average journey time has increased by a very small amount, and that the stress of driving has reduced by quite a large one. Our streets should be for people, not cars.”" - my god - an enlightened motorist! (I suppose that by chance there has to be a few)

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bikecellar [268 posts] 4 years ago
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spen wrote:

"AM also quoted advanced motorist Rob Raikes, 66, who said: “In Southampton where there is a city wide 20 mph limit, motorists have found that the average journey time has increased by a very small amount, and that the stress of driving has reduced by quite a large one. Our streets should be for people, not cars.”" - my god - an enlightened motorist! (I suppose that by chance there has to be a few)

The wisdom of age  1

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Tony Farrelly [2868 posts] 4 years ago
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I live in what has just become a 20mph zone after a period where the limit was advisory, that didn't have much effect on driver speeds and they haven't perceptibly slowed down since the limit became mandatory because they are obviously never enforced.

Similarly, around the corner from our house is a large secondary school which is also in a 20mph zone, that hasn't made a damn bit of difference on the rat run along the back perimeter of the school which is one of the main access points for the kids. Neither over the years have the traffic calming measures put in by the council, even the recently installed multiple speed bumps and tables have barely slowed 'em down - the vast majority drive along that road at over 20mph - I've never seen any attempt at police enforcement of the limit.

Given the cuts to their funding, doubt I ever will. What needs to happen on residential streets is for residents to be given some responsibility for enforcing the limit, arm the Neighbourhood Watch or some concerned parents with a speed gun and then watch speeds plummet, cos they will.

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Paul M [355 posts] 4 years ago
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Portsmouth also has a city-wide 20mph limit on its side streets (the main feeder routes are generally still 30mph). I don't know how well it is enforced, but it is implemented as a street-by-street limit rather than as a zone - the latter requires calming measures such as humps, cushions, or pinch-points at stated intervals, while the former only requires repeater signs, which is of course much cheaper. It cost about £350 per street - a bargain.

Apparently, average speeds on these streets have fallen by a few mph, although they are still above 20 - somewhere around 24-25 instead of 28-29mph. Given that each mph reduces risk of collision and also severity of outcome, even this is worth having.

As for "responsible motorists", other surveys have shown that 2/3rds of drivers admit to speeding on occasion, and traffic censuses suggest that half of drivers routinely break 30mph limits. Without physical measures or carpet-bombing police intervention (both very expensive), infringement will continue but it does look like people will exceed a 20 limit by about the same as they would previously have exceeded a 30 limit.

A more useful intervention would be to make side streets go nowhere for cars - filtered permeability, so that walkers/cyclists can pass through in a straight line but cars can only get in, or out, but not through. residents can still access their homes but rat-runners are excluded.

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WolfieSmith [1310 posts] 4 years ago
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As Paul M suggests the slight drop in average speed is the best we can hope to gain from a 20mph limit. If it gets people to break the law at 25mph rather than 35-40 mph that will save lives. My local council Sefton makes a great deal of noise about cycling but it's all '5 miles to fitness' and kids events window dressing rather than serious consideration of helping motorists and cyclists share the road - or at least slow the motorists down for the benefit of all - including drivers. Liverpool City Council are contemplating 20mph through
much of the city and Sefton Highways Dept are sitting back and chuckling at present - even though they have areas well suited for testing a 20mph limit. 'It would cost too
much to change the signs...' was the last excuse given.  20

I do feel that we are on the cusp though. Who knows. Maybe by 2015 we'll be all wondering why it took so long to see the obvious - like we were about banning smoking on buses and tube. For the sake of the kids in my area - and even those drivers that regularly push 45mph in a 30mph around here - I hope so. This purely antisocial behaviour can't carry in much longer surely?