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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

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.

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