Safer streets

Would you believe that some city governments are actually removing roadside cycle paths? In most places across the country there is a dire need for safer cycle facilities. Surely removing cycle paths is grossly irresponsible. Well it depends on the circumstances. If traffic is already going at less than 20mph then separating cycles and cars need no longer be necessary.

We believe people in Elmbridge want a better quality of life, a safer place to live and, if possible, an environmentally sustainable neighbourhood too. We feel that, for a whole host of reasons residential streets should have a maximum speed limit of 20mph.

Nearly all the road danger occurs in residential streets. More than half of road deaths and serious injuries occur on roads with 30 mph limits. Britain has the highest percentage of pedestrian road fatalities in Europe 20% and Britain has one of the lowest levels of children walking or cycling to school in Europe. British parents consistently cite traffic speed as the main reason why their children are not allowed to cycle or walk to school.

As the main roads will still have limits of 30mph and above, car journey times would hardly lengthen at all. Lowering residential speed limits to 20mph has been found to increase a 15 minute car journey by less than a minute.

Lowering urban and residential speed limits to 20mph has been found to decrease child pedestrian accidents by 70%. Where 20mph limits and similar measures have been introduced 24% of in town trips are made by bicycle. Noise levels are lower and crime falls too.

80% of the public and 75% of drivers support 20mph as a speed limit on residential streets and now city governments around the country are beginning to introduce citywide 20mph limits: Bristol, Edinburgh, Hull, Portsmouth, Northampton and Nottingham – Islington becomes the first borough in London.

A noticeable feature of area-wide 20mph limits is that as more people begin to live in 20mph streets they drive down other people’s 20mph streets at a more respectable speed. This re-enforces the lower speed limit for everyone – speed humps and chicanes become things of the past.

It is time for our residential roads to be equitably shared with all the users by setting an appropriate speed limit that protects the young and the vulnerable. The time for 20mph as a speed limit on residential roads in Elmbridge has come.