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“Any road which isn’t safe for pedestrians and cyclists should be 20mph”: Cycling Rebellion says speed limit plan “doesn’t go far enough”, as council urged to “be brave” and introduce default 20mph zones

Council officers have claimed that a blanket 20mph limit on residential roads will cost £300m to implement – but campaigners say it “feels silly to halt progress this much”

Cycling campaigners have slammed a council’s plans to restrict the proposed roll-out of 20mph zones to streets which have been deemed particularly dangerous or where serious injuries have occurred, and have called on the local authority to be “bold” in its bid to combat the climate emergency and “act now” by introducing a default 20mph speed limit on all residential roads.

Last month, the deputy leader of Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole (BCP) Council announced that it was the local authority’s “intention” to introduce a “default” 20mph limit in built-up areas throughout the conurbation, similar to the widespread implementation of lowered speed limits in Wales last autumn.

The announcement came three months after the Liberal Democrat-controlled council’s environment portfolio holder Andy Hadley pledged that a full consultation would take place before a decision was made on the introduction of the 20mph zones, which deputy leader Millie Earl said would be “beneficial to people walking, wheeling, and cycling and… benefit public health and air quality”.

> “We warned that voting for these parties would lead to anti-car measures”: 20mph speed limit plan to “really encourage more cycle journeys” slammed as “nuts” and “extremely worrying”

However, a report by BCP Council officers this week raised concerns about the council’s ambitions to implement the reduced speed limit on all urban residential roads and high streets, noting that, “although desirable”, a “blanket” 20mph limit would cost more than £300m to introduce.

Instead, the council officers advised that the local authority should prioritise which roads will be subject to the lowered limit, based on how dangerous they are perceived to be or the number of collisions or serious injuries which have occurred on them in recent years.

Dorset Police, for instance, has told the council that it “will not be able to supply additional resources to monitor and enforce” any speed reduction plan, but that it would support a 20mph zone on streets where “clear evidence” indicates that the scheme would lead to a fall in collisions.

The report also noted that by introducing a default 20mph limit, some motorists will believe that their freedoms are being “compromised”.

“The profile of people who proportionately drive more – men, middle aged groups, people without a disability, white British, heterosexuals and Christians – will generally consider their freedoms associated with driving are being compromised, though individual views may vary,” the report said.

> "Far more pleasant for walkers and cyclists": 20mph speed limit analysis hailed "astonishing", with drivers' journeys just 45 seconds longer

In response to the officers’ conclusion that a “blanket” 20mph restriction on all urban roads cannot be implemented, Poole-based cycling and environmental campaigner Adam Osman has criticised what he believes is the latest “silly” barrier to progress, arguing that the council needs to be “brave” to make the roads safer and combat climate change.

“We are campaigning for 20mph as a default speed limit rather than each road being individually picked for 20mph. What the council has proposed is not tenable,” Osman, the founder of Cycling Rebellion, an off-shoot of the more widely known Extinction Rebellion, told the Daily Echo.

“All residential streets, roads with narrow pavements, high streets such as Winton High Street should be included.

“If they removed parking spaces along Winton High Street and expanded the space for pedestrians and cyclists, that would be great – although we don’t want to take away people’s right to drive there. Basically, any road which isn’t safe for pedestrians and cyclists should be 20mph.”

> School bike racks destroyed by speeding, out-of-control motorist, as pupils and teachers stage protest demanding introduction of 20mph limit

Osman also questioned the local authority’s claimed figure of £300m for a complete roll-out of the scheme and argued that constantly changing speed limits and road signs “would cause more mistakes” by motorists.

“We can look at the information and the data, there are plenty of locations to choose from. There is the straight road going to the university where there have been cyclists killed on the roads,” he said.

“So if there has been an accident, it would be a no-brainer. Most junctions you can apply logic to decide on what it should be.

“There is an environmental emergency, we have to act this decade. It feels silly to halt progress this much. The council needs to be brave and act now.”

> “Would you feel comfortable with your kids cycling here?” ask campaigners calling for a “safe town to live in” – but councillor says local authority shouldn’t look for “unpopular schemes” that make life “harder for working people”

In October, Osman and Cycling Rebellion organised a group ride to call for the introduction of 20mph limits and safer infrastructure for “the huge amount of families who want to cycle”, while urging the council to make “radical changes” to ensure that the area is “liveable”.

“We have to think about making cycling for everyone,” Osman said at the time. “You need to look at the current infrastructure and ask yourself, would you feel comfortable with your kids cycling there?”

“Because that is a safe town to live in, one that accommodates every form of transport. That’s why we’re riding today, to show the huge amount of families in BCP who want to cycle, and that we need to make big changes to make it liveable. We’re calling on the implementation of a 20mph speed limit in BCP to make BCP safe for families.”

While BCP Council’s apparent scaling back of its 20mph plans this week has attracted the ire of cycling campaigners, as we reported last month the scheme in general also came under fire from across the political aisle, as local Conservative politicians rushed to condemn the council’s “out of the blue” and “extremely worrying” announcement.

“Many of us warned that voting for these parties would see a return to anti-car measures, and this announcement… shows that we were right,” Conservative councillor Phil Broadhead said.

Meanwhile, Poole’s Conservative MP Sir Robert Syms also added: “I would support 20mph near schools but a general policy I think is nuts. It is unpopular in London and in Wales and it will upset my constituents if implemented.”

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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53 comments

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Secret_squirrel | 4 months ago
0 likes

Sod the limits.  Have they sorted out their plan on that Rat Run bridge yet?

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chrisonabike replied to Secret_squirrel | 4 months ago
1 like

You mean knocking it down so that cars can travel freely in both directions?  I mean most of the time the track is empty, waste of space if you ask me...

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NickSprink | 4 months ago
2 likes

As a driver i do find it hard to stick to 20 mph, especially when it has been changed from 30.  Therefore I support blanket 20 mph as it will be easier to get used to and to stick to rather than the speed limit constantly changing.

As for £300m, bonkers.  Someone thought of a random number and mulitplied by another random number.  Wales says it cost £32m to introduce 20mph, so how Bournemouth is suppsed to be £300m I've no idea.

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quiff replied to NickSprink | 4 months ago
1 like

As someone else posted, the £300m is likely an estimate of the economic cost of reducing the speed limit - the equivalent (albeit controversial) figure for Wales was £4.5 billion. 

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ChrisB200SX replied to quiff | 4 months ago
2 likes

quiff wrote:

As someone else posted, the £300m is likely an estimate of the economic cost of reducing the speed limit - the equivalent (albeit controversial) figure for Wales was £4.5 billion. 

Lol, is that Wales' GDP is now £300m/pa less now because of minor reduction in some speed limits. I'm sure that holds water.

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quiff replied to ChrisB200SX | 4 months ago
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No, £300m relates to Bournemouth. The contested figure for Wales is £4.5 billion - from page 32 here: https://senedd.wales/media/fo3ibze5/sub-ld15187-em-e.pdf

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Simon E replied to ChrisB200SX | 4 months ago
1 like

ChrisB200SX wrote:

Lol, is that Wales' GDP is now £300m/pa less now because of minor reduction in some speed limits. I'm sure that holds water.

My thoughts exactly.

So drivers are asked to go 10 mph slower than before in built-up areas and this somehow has a negative impact on the country to the tune of millions of pounds?

Funny how no-one has mentioned the frequent closures and delays on the A55 (and surely many other roads), usually due to crappy, dangerous / careless driving by drivists, and how much that costs the economy.

Meanwhile the Caernarfon bypass was estimated to cost £135 million. Where are the benefits, I wonder? I'm sure the town itself will be more pleasant place now but was it worth the cost? Perhaps it's for the benefit of the Cheshire set, who can race to their overpriced house in Abersoch that much quicker now.

I'll read the document, thanks for the link quiff.

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whizzo | 4 months ago
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Clever thing about all these 20mph limits and enforcement is that in a few years the euro regulation speed limiter devices, road charging and insurance black boxes will force everyone to stick to it. And by then they'll be well established all over the place.

I'm all for it and happy for speeders to think they are "getting away with it" for now.

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Jakrayan replied to whizzo | 4 months ago
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It's a nice thought, however the technology needs to improve massively for it to become accurate and effective. I drive a 2021 BMW Touring with a HUD, and every time it spots a 20mph limit in a side street it constantly nags me to slow down even when I'm doing considerably less than 30 in a 30mph zone. Driving past the garden centre it nags me for a couple of hundred metres that I'm doing more than 5mph! 

Fortunately it doesn't slam the brakes on (yet) as dropping to 5mph if someone behind wasn't paying attention (or just, understandably, wasn't expecting it) could be disastrous. Unlike an Audi I had before that would suddenly slow to 40mph when staying on the A2 dual carriageway but passing a slip road with the lower limit 😱😱

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Matthew Acton-Varian replied to Jakrayan | 4 months ago
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Speed limiters and black boxes do not run off the camera technology your BMW is using for this purpose. These are much simpler and are inexpensive to spec, especially for a small city car, and can be fitted aftermarket quite easily. A limiter will only have a max set limit (i.e. the NSL) and the black box will monitor your speed and GPS on lower limit roads.

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bensynnock | 4 months ago
1 like

I'm fully in favour of people driving at 20 throughout urban areas. They've put a 20 mph limit on my road. What happens now is that once people are past 20 there's no longer a limit - you're already speeding so driving at 40 or 50 is still speeding.

A 20 mph limit with no enforcement is worse than 30.

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Sedis replied to bensynnock | 4 months ago
4 likes

bensynnock wrote:

I'm fully in favour of people driving at 20 throughout urban areas. They've put a 20 mph limit on my road. What happens now is that once people are past 20 there's no longer a limit - you're already speeding so driving at 40 or 50 is still speeding. A 20 mph limit with no enforcement is worse than 30.

The Village I live in changed to 20 mph a few months ago, and it has reduced the average speed. When it was 30 mph, the majority of people used to drive through at 33. Now it seems that 24 mph is what people seem to think is the acceptable speed, persumably because +10% isn't quite enough when it is 20 mph.

A few people stick ridgedly to the speed limit as they did before and a few break it by a ridiculous amount, as they know there is no enforcement whatsoever. 

Overall it has improved things, but it would be much more effective with even a minimal amount of enforcement.

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don simon fbpe | 4 months ago
6 likes

The way to implement it is to make an announcement (or put it in the manifesto), then offer a 2 year consultation period allowing opposition and appeals to be made and heard.

Implement then sit back and wait for the right whingers to trigger themselves when they realise that they've missed their chance to oppose, through laziness. Some of their justifications are pure gold.

I'd rather the default 20mph than the random positioning that appears to happen in england.

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Capt Sisko replied to don simon fbpe | 4 months ago
7 likes

don simon fbpe wrote:

The way to implement it is to make an announcement (or put it in the manifesto), ...........

That's exactly what Welsh Labour did in their 2019 manifesto. They were subsiquently voted in and when they had the nerve to actually impliment someting they promised to do in their manifesto, the poeple who voted them in complained!

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quiff replied to Capt Sisko | 4 months ago
2 likes

I appreciate this is not a dis-interested source, but it's better than that - before Labour (and I think Plaid?) put it in their manifestos, the original debate on 20mph in Wales was tabled by the Tories, and in 2020 had (most of) their support: https://www.20splenty.org/w_faq04

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Rendel Harris | 4 months ago
8 likes

£300,000,000? Clearly absolute nonsense. In a linked report the council says it would have to ask government for £149k to "start rolling out" 20mph limits (https://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/24129053.council-needs-149k-start-rolling-20mph-limits/) , but to do it in full would cost 2000 times that? Get oop t'street.

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Secret_squirrel replied to Rendel Harris | 4 months ago
0 likes

Its utter nonsense.   The Welsh 20mph rollout has cost £34m for a whole country so far....

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D.Railleur | 4 months ago
11 likes

20mph speed limits in towns and villages are a good thing for everyone. More please.

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mctrials23 | 4 months ago
17 likes

I feel like I speak for most of us when I say "fuck em". This isn't about the twats of society who think a speed limit is infringing on their liberties. As to the cost, i'm sure that you could recoup a lot of those costs with a few months of heavy monitoring and fines. 

The fact these are being put in place in pedestrian and residential areas means that breaking the speed limit should automatically be considered dangerous driving and incur a large fine. 

Its about time we prioritised peoples lives and safety over some bizarre idea that stopping people driving dangerously is somehow taking their liberties away from them. Taking someones life is taking something away. Ruining someones health is taking away their freedom and liberty. 

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ymm replied to mctrials23 | 4 months ago
1 like

Absolutely right about schemes like this paying for themselves with the right approach to enforcement and fines for pure incompetence behind the wheel.

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morgoth985 replied to mctrials23 | 4 months ago
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The voice of common sense, except that phrase has been taken over by the DM / Conservative / Trumpist nutcases who are so far from common sense it is getting to gaslighting stage.

i love the objection based on “The profile of people who proportionately drive more – men, middle aged groups, people without a disability, white British, heterosexuals and Christians".  Every one of those characteristics applies to me, including the driving.  I still say go for the 20mph

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bikeman01 | 4 months ago
5 likes

All villages in Oxfordshire have been 20mph for about 12 months now. Not much objection because it's only the villages. That's the way to do it. 

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ktache replied to bikeman01 | 4 months ago
5 likes

I noticed this when nipping out for a ride at the end of a day WFH, North from caversham into the Chilterns, loads of new and shiny 20 roundalls.

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Buckland420 replied to bikeman01 | 4 months ago
1 like

Every town and parish council in Oxfordshire has the choice to ask for 20mph limits. Lots have taken the county council up on the offer. 

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Danbury replied to bikeman01 | 4 months ago
0 likes

Not all villages in Oxfordshire I'm afraid. We still have drivers going 50mph + on our 30mph roads.

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jh2727 replied to bikeman01 | 4 months ago
2 likes

bikeman01 wrote:

All villages in Oxfordshire have been 20mph for about 12 months now. Not much objection because it's only the villages. That's the way to do it. 

This is quite ludicrous.  How about when people want to walk or cycle betwen villages or people who live outside of the village want to walk or cycle into the village? At present this generally means cycling or walking on a 60mph road which has poor visibility and no pavements and many drivers who think that dangerous driving is acceptable, if your within the speed limit.

This leaves many people with the only options being a private motor vehicle or relying on extremely spotty public transport.

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Hirsute replied to jh2727 | 4 months ago
2 likes

A lot of NSL roads should be lower and it could be done via legislative change as to maximum speed on an NSL per vehicle type but that would be a war on motorists.

Which ever way I go home, it requires NSL with no footpaths. At one point, the County Council said the main road was ok to walk to secondary school and would not provide a bus pass.

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mctrials23 replied to Hirsute | 4 months ago
5 likes

Its utterly mind boggling how many roads in the UK shouldn't be driven at more than 30 and probably at less than 20 in many places and yet they are 60s. 

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brooksby replied to mctrials23 | 4 months ago
2 likes

mctrials23 wrote:

Its utterly mind boggling how many roads in the UK shouldn't be driven at more than 30 and probably at less than 20 in many places and yet they are 60s. 

True.  As I understand it, 'national speed limit' on many rural lanes means "we can't be bothered to define a speed limit as it's common sense" whereas a great many people seem to understand it as "I can drive along this single track lane with blind bends at 60 mph - the Govt said it so blame them!"

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Hirsute replied to mctrials23 | 4 months ago
1 like

This is my current favourite

https://maps.app.goo.gl/pFpjW5wGKi2S6uaQ7

 

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