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All residential streets could become 20mph as council tries to halve KSI figures over 10 years

Research into road traffic collisions in Leeds has led to pleas for a cut in speed limits to prevent a continuation of deaths and serious injuries.

Figures from the Department of Transport (DfT) analysed by Leeds City Council found that in 2014, there were 1,937 road traffic collisions in Leeds, with a total of 2,543 casualties.

337 of those casualties were killed or seriously hurt, with pedestrians making up about a sixth of those injured. 253 were children.

The council’s report found that the cost of the accident, including policing, emergency service attendance, hospital treatment, insurance and property damage - was estimated at £139m.

There was too an acknowledgment that the pain and human suffering could not be given an absolute value.

Now campaigners are calling for 20mph speed limits across the city - going beyond the school zones currently being implemented.

By 2020 the report says, there should be lower limits on most of the city’s residential streets, and by 2026 the KSI rate should be halved.

Gary Rae, campaigns manager for Brake, the road safety charity, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “These figures highlight both the human and economic costs of road crashes.

“By starting to introduce 20mph limits, Leeds council is taking one simple step to reduce collisions and casualties, enabling residents to live active lifestyles, and reduce pollution.

“20mph limits are a proven, cost-effective way of making our streets safer, which is why it’s time for the government to adopt 20mph as the default national urban limit.”

Mark Lansdown, Leeds spokesman for the national ‘20’s Plenty For Us’ road safety campaign, said: “20’s Plenty For Us would recommend much wider areas are committed to 20mph zones in one go. Rather than speed bumps and so on, we would prefer a cultural change.”

A Leeds City Council spokeswoman said: “By looking at individual sites and tailoring 20 mile an hour zones for each one based on need and circumstances, we can achieve better outcomes for those communities than a blanket rollout would achieve.

“With a mix of rural and urban areas, a ‘one size fits all’ solution won’t work for Leeds, and when and how 20 mile an hour zones are implemented in other cities may not be appropriate here.”

She said 20mph zones have already been rolled out to 100 areas already and half of Leeds schools will have speed reductions measures by the end of the year.

The spokeswoman added: “Although a monetary amount can be attributed to the cost of an accident, the true cost of lives saved by improving road safety with 20 mile an hour zones is immeasurable.”

Last year we reported how a study found that key evidence that 20mph limits lead to more people walking and cycling could be fundamentally flawed.

Analysis by the Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) of The Local Government Information Unit’s December briefing note,  ‘Area-wide 20mph neighbourhoods: a win, win, win for local authorities’, found that the evidence from Bristol recording a mean increase in walking and cycling of 23% and 20.5% after 20mph limits were introduced were unreliable.

The ABD decided to investigate the figures because they did not tally with a Department for Transport (DfT) finding that there was “no conclusive evidence that speed limit changes in isolation from other measures have an impact on walking and cycling”.

ABD traffic management adviser Malcolm Heymer,  a retired local government traffic and road safety engineer, told Transport Xtra that the “statistically invalid” methods of calculating the data didn’t allow that “the individual percentage changes [were] weighted according to the absolute figures involved to give a true average.

“That such an elementary error could be made in a local authority report is both extraordinary and concerning.”

He went on: “A monitoring report by the council showed that the bottom end of the pedestrian range was actually 1%, not 10%, and the upper figures were taken from survey results that had not been corrected for the rain that affected some count sites in the before period.”

Having made some adjustments to the data himself, Heymer said he believes the Bristol surveys suggest walking and cycling increased by about 3% in one pilot area and 9% in the other.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.