European Parliament recommends introduction of 30kph / 20mph zones across Europe

Other recommendations to reduce road deaths include cyclists to wear helmets & hi-viz

by Simon_MacMichael   September 28, 2011  

20mph zone picture IAM.jpg

Speed limits of 30kph in urban areas – or 20mph in the UK – could become more common after the European Parliament yesterday adopted a resolution urging local authorities across the European Union (EU) to make it the standard speed limit in such zones. It also recommended that cyclists to wear helmets and ‘safety’ – in other words, hi-viz – clothing, particularly at night.

Both recommendations were originally contained in the Koch Report, written by the German MEP Dieter-Lebrecht Koch, which addresses transport safety issues in Europe and aims to reduce by half the 31,000 deaths on the EU’s roads each year.

While the recommendations do not have the force of law, they can be influential in helping governments and politicians at national and European level formulate policy.

The “strong” recommendation of a 30kph speed limit, which would apply “in all residential areas and on single-lane roads in urban areas which have no separate cycle lanes,” and was welcomed by the European Cyclists Federation, which said in a statement quoted on trade website BikeBiz, “Today marks a decisive day in making a 30 kmh speed limit an accepted practice throughout Europe."

“Parents don’t want to be petrified by their kids walking or cycling on the side walk,” added ECF policy officer, Fabian Küster. “This move by the EU is all about personal liberty. It’s about politicians creating cities for living in rather than thoroughfares for vehicles. And it’s about reclaiming streets and neighbourhoods for people and cyclists.”
However, a Conservative MEP has rejected the recommendation for a 30kph speed limit throughout Europe.

Jacqueline Foster, MEP for the North West and transport spokesman described the recommendation as "another example of Europe trying to dictate to Britain on issues that should be decided locally," reports the Press Association.

She added: "Of course speed limits as low as 20mph or so can be right in some very specific areas, especially near schools or nurseries, but every location is different, and these decisions need to be made case by case. Not by a Europe-wide edict."

In an aside that entirely misses the point of the recommendation as well as making light of the issue, she added that road signs in Britain stating "Speed limit - 18.64mph" would be "plain silly."

Mr Koch said: “The choice of measures and their assessment should be a scientific process, based on comparable, high-quality data, definitions and statistics.

"We expect a harmonised analysis of the causes of accidents and injuries and an EU-wide exchange of data which respects a high standard of data privacy."

As BikeBiz points out, the Highway Code already recommends that cyclists use a helmet and wear hi-viz clothing, so while the recommendation from the European Parliament doesn’t add anything beyond that, it’s not inconceivable that a politician advocating helmet compulsion might seize on it to support their argument.

 

12 user comments

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I think this avoids the issue main issue, although it would be a partial solution, it is not a full one.

I think that lowering the speed limit to 20 will help, by there being fewer situations where a motorist feels "stuck" behind a bike, but not everybody can cycle at 20mph. A good example is the Boris (barclays cycle hire) bikes in London, you cannot do 20mph and get to your meeting without a 20 min sweat, so going slower I get even impatient cyclysts doing silly things and getting just as flustered if not more than some motorists, and worse, flustering motorists at the same time.

The problem I have noticed is (all the below have one root):

1) if you have a street that is just wide enough for two cars - drivers will drive slowly to their side and two way traffic is maintained, or they will give way at an approriate point if another car is already in that narrow space. With a cyclist even one already in this space, a car will never give way and often drive down the middle forcing the cyclist to stop.

2) if you have a street only narrow enough for one way traffic, cars, again, will give way, except to cycles, and again drive down the middle, even if a cyclist is already half or more way down!

3) if you are at a mini roundabout, most drivers will drive though, even though a bike is on or in the mini roundabout before them, whereas with cars they obey the first come first served or give way triangle.

4) in above, if there is a give way triangle, most motorists will not "give way" to a cyclist with priority, no matter how fast they are going. And in priroy lane (approaching righmond park, london) where both the cycle lane and the approaching roads have give way signs, I have seen motorists who would have arrived after I as a cyclist had crossed, accelerate and force a cyclist to give way.

4) whenever a bike comes into contact or a neear miss with a pedestrian or a car, in the general scheme of accidents and incedents where blame is not fully proportional to one party there is a general automatic assumption that it was more the cyclists fault.

In short; the key issue? drivers (of which I am also one) think they have more right to be on the roads than cyclists, and until it is drilled into them that all traffic (dare I say it, even caravans!) have the same right to use public roads, then I think we are avoiding this key issue number 1 that I hear again and again as to why more poeople are not using even cycle hire bikes. Until we address this we cannot get more than the "brave" riding bikes.

To go one further, this argument of high viz clothing is also a red herring; motorists should be looking out for cyclists as they do for other traffic or pedestrians on or even near the public highway - just as you cannot say to a taxi driver "sorry for banging into you guv, but I did't see your cab coz its black - you should paint it stabillo boss yellow" nor can you run over a pedestrian and say "sorry, did not see you in black, where is your flourescent donkey jacket" there should be no reason for a cyclist to not wear whatever colour they happen to be wearing and feel safe on the roads. Full Stop. Again, it is unrealistic to assume we can get people onto boris bikes if they have to carry a flouresnt donkey jacket to their meetings.

However, having said this, lights on during the day, as any wise motrocyclist does, having been one of them, is the way to go day or night, and a high viz jacket is no excuse for not having lights.

but the main point, it is not the difference in speed that causes the problems, its the attidude drivers have in their cars that needs addressing, and the high viz jacket comment further shows that this whole issue needs a lot more thought that silly populist speed limit changes!

roadie come mountain biker come single speeder and back again

posted by cborrman [84 posts]
28th September 2011 - 11:55

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SOD OFF EUROPE!

UKIP all the way for me!

Municipal Waste's picture

posted by Municipal Waste [190 posts]
28th September 2011 - 13:29

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comments above

re the perceived right of cars to own the road. The slower speed limit should make cars and bikes closer in velocity. This could make cars treat bikes as more like an equal. Worth a try.

re SOD OFF
The origin of the idea doesn't matter. 30kph speed limits are a good idea

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posted by vorsprung [289 posts]
28th September 2011 - 13:46

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Municipal Waste wrote:
SOD OFF EUROPE!

UKIP all the way for me!

Ah yes. The one party that truly has cyclists' interests at heart.

http://road.cc/content/news/16598-election-special-ukips-cycling-policy-...

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7940 posts]
28th September 2011 - 14:08

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@cborrman - contrary to your experience I find that the majority of cars do give way and take cyclists into consideration but I agree that attitudes need to be addressed and that legislation can only go so far.

Unfortunately we're fighting against years of cultural conditioning that driving = freedom, glamour and pleasure, despite the fact that often as not, that's a complete illusion.

How you do this, I'm not sure, but I doubt that another government sponsored public info campaign will do it (anyone herad of 'Road Respect'). I reckon you need to start with the advertising first.

"Audi - an acceptably comfortable place to sit in traffic"

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posted by joemmo [779 posts]
28th September 2011 - 14:20

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Introduce strict liability. It seems like the quickest way to some semblance of safety on our roads.

posted by legendary27 [5 posts]
28th September 2011 - 15:43

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oh come on! Hi viz does nothing, except as a sacrificial layer against road dirt. Drivers aren't dangerous because they can't see you. I get harassed by drivers in broad daylight which is why I've got a handlebar cam now. This week's prat: B654VDE a mini passing too close and honking because I wasn't in the cycle lane - which had a car parked in it.

posted by a.jumper [681 posts]
28th September 2011 - 17:19

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Regardless of one's political beliefs, I would expect most cyclists to know that conditions for cyclists in northern Europe are significantly better than in the UK. Therefore it makes sense to work with this recommendation.

In response to roadie come mountain biker, I would say that Richmond Park (where there is a 20 mph limit) shows the benefits of a lower speed limit. Motorists are happy to pootle along behind cyclists, without harassing us our making dangerous overtaking moves.

Also, if we follow the advice from Bikeability training and take the primary position then car drivers find it very difficult to force a cyclist off the road. I find that car drivers do give way to us as they would to other cars if we assert ourselves by taking a confident road position.

I think that 'I'm sorry I didn't see you' is more truthfully 'I thought I could get past without hitting you'.

posted by Campag_10 [153 posts]
1st October 2011 - 10:01

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Campag_10 wrote:
Also, if we follow the advice from Bikeability training and take the primary position then car drivers find it very difficult to force a cyclist off the road. I find that car drivers do give way to us as they would to other cars if we assert ourselves by taking a confident road position.

I think that 'I'm sorry I didn't see you' is more truthfully 'I thought I could get past without hitting you'.


In my experience, I'm pretty sure they say SMIDSY when they really mean "I'm bigger than you and don't give a toss what the road priorities are or what arm signal you're giving so you will give way to me".

The two favourite local spots for that are a mini-roundabout where I usually make a right-turn and two streets away from that where I take primary position yet sometimes get overtaken and then squeezed into the kerb (because many drivers have no idea what speed a drop-handlebarred road cyclist does on a flat smooth road).

Taking primary position and riding assertatively, with smiles and eye-contact, helps, but there are still idiots who should not be driving out there. I suspect unmarked police camera bikes would catch tons of driving offences pretty quickly!

posted by a.jumper [681 posts]
1st October 2011 - 18:23

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I don't want a 20mph limit.

I want cars to go enough faster than me that they're past quickly, rather than stuck alongside edging me into the gutter.

I want them to leave me well behind so that when they stop at the next traffic queue they're more than 1m in front of me.

I want them to think they've made up the time they think they lost while behind me, hopefully making them just a little more patient they catch the next cyclist.

What's the gain if cars go at 20mph? They're no less likely to hit us 'cos that requires them to see us at all, and speed doesn't affect that at all.

And on the odd day I'm in a car I don't want to be stuck at 20mph on a deserted wide open road just because it meets EU criteria.

posted by mbrads72 [117 posts]
7th October 2011 - 18:49

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Campag_10 wrote:
In response to roadie come mountain biker, I would say that Richmond Park (where there is a 20 mph limit) shows the benefits of a lower speed limit. Motorists are happy to pootle along behind cyclists, without harassing us our making dangerous overtaking moves.
...
I think that 'I'm sorry I didn't see you' is more truthfully 'I thought I could get past without hitting you'.

Really good point. There's no doubt drivers level of frustration when stuck behind you is relative to the speed they could be doing ie the limit.

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posted by TheHatter [810 posts]
7th October 2011 - 21:17

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mbrads72 wrote:
What's the gain if cars go at 20mph? They're no less likely to hit us 'cos that requires them to see us at all, and speed doesn't affect that at all.

I used to think a bit like you but I've ridden in more 20mph zones now and they are an improvement. Drivers just aren't expecting to swing past slow-moving vehicles in them like they do in 30 and 40 zones. Be brave, stay in primary position and don't ride into the gutter and it's nearly always fine.

If they do see you and misjudge it, a car at 20mph should stop fast in 12m, but a car at 30mph takes 23m - almost double.

Also, if they don't see you, being hit at 20mph when you're doing 12-14mph is much less harmful than being hit at 30mph. The EU committee mentioned above estimates a 60% reduction in deaths and 40% in serious injuries for under-14s.

When you're driving, just avoid the 20 zones as much as possible. They're usually residential or tourist areas which aren't great places to drive anyway.

posted by a.jumper [681 posts]
8th October 2011 - 14:16

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