The "Criminalising" and "bringing the law into disrepute" myths busted

Another question we have had put to us is :- “In moving from 30mph to 20mph without adequate physical changes and/or enforcement, we are criminalising a higher percentage of people and that brings the law into disrepute”. * Laws change or are revised because of a change in public consensus. We know that over 70% of the population support 20mph limits without traffic calming in residential streets – British Social Attitudes Surveys tell us so – see https://travelwest.info/project/ee-113-city-wide-residential-streets-20mph-speed-limits.  Support for 20mph has remained this high for a decade. * Any time a law is revised/updated there is a period of transition. This is so whether it is changing a 30mph road to a 20mph road, seat belt wearing, smoking in a car with children, hitting children, hand held mobile phone use when driving etc. Acts which were not criminal before become criminal and people have to adjust their behaviour to the new norm. * 51% of drivers aren’t compliant with 30mph * at 20mph limit the non compliers (speeders) aren’t imposing as much danger on the rest of society as when not compliant at 30mph. * advertising the change to drivers (engagement activities to enhance compliance) in advance of the change and for some time after the change is highly recommended to make drivers aware of lower limits and to reduce the transition period length and thereby improve compliance levels. * It is likely that the same drivers who speed in a 30mph limit will deliberately speed in a 20mph limits. There are probably very few extra people deciding to speed (engage in deliberately criminal  driving). * There aren’t that many drivers who are unaware of the change in limit to 20mph if the limit is signed well enough and wide enough. So there are few people who can claim “I didn’t know it was 20mph” * if other laws were not being enforced we would not say the law was wrong. We’d blame lack of enforcement! * Lack of enforcement and engagement brings the law enforcers into disrepute not the laws. 20mph doesn’t criminalise more drivers or bring the law into disrepute if the limit is enforced. Drivers are less likely to speed if the police support the 20mph policy publicly and routinely enforce it. In summary There are no extra drivers speeding There is a strong separation between elected representatives who set laws based on public consensus and the police for who enforce them and the independent judiciary who sentences.

The "civil liability" myth busted

Yesterday I heard from one of our local campaigns about an argument put by a councillor. It was :- "If I designate a street as 20mph, then more people will think it safe to walk and cycle.  I am worried that if someone is then killed or seriously injured by a car travelling at (say) 30mph, then the Traffic Authority might be liable".   Here we discuss the relevant civil case law regarding the duty of the council to act reasonably when managing the roads. The argument condenses down to clear opinion that :- If a Traffic Authority sets a speed limit which misrepresents the hazards involved, then it is in breach of its common law duty of care towards both the driver and to anyone injured. Regardless of whether the road user was negligent, the Traffic Authority risks liability for any consequences. Where a Traffic Authority has set a 20mph speed limit, then liability for any consequences of a collision rests solely with the driver if they negligently exceeded the speed limit and could have avoided the collision if they had adhered to the limit. The argument that Traffic Authorities risk liability if a 20mph limit is set and not adhered to by a driver has no credibility. Instead the reverse is true: The correct setting of a 20mph limit shifts liability to the driver when acting negligently by exceeding the speed limit regardless of any negligence by a vulnerable road user. The Duty of Care responsibilities of a Traffic Authority are further explored in a comprehensive briefing.   Continue reading

We critique a recent report on 20mph areas by Bath and North East Somerset Council

In May 2017 N & NES Council released a report on their recent 20mph area schemes. Whilst we believe that assessing the results of 20mph limits is important in order to better implement ongoing schemes and formulate local authority policy, this must be done in a reasonable, balanced and objective manner. 20’s Plenty for Us refute the findings and conclusions in the report and advise members that the report is so compromised that it would not be reasonable for them to make any decisions based on the report. This critique looks at the report in detail. In particular it finds the report biased, lacking in statistical rigour and not meeting several local authority duties on competency and equality. 20’s Plenty for Us would be pleased to engage with Bath & North East Council to further discuss the report and propose how a better review and assessment of the 20mph areas may be conducted. This critique should be read alongside the BANES report which may be found at :- https://democracy.bathnes.gov.uk/documents/s46582/20mph%20Zones%20Review%20Report.pdf   Continue reading

Lessons to learn from Manchester

In a recent analysis of its 20mph roll-out Manchester City Council have decided to review it plans because pedestrian and cycle casualty reduction in the first Phase implemented in 2012 have not matched the %age reduction in all the roads across the city. They are continuing their roll-out of Phase 2 but may use some of the allocated funding for Phase 3 on alternative road treatments. Some of the media and 20mph opponents have used this as "proof" that 20mph limits "don't work" and are calling for other cities to "learn from Manchester" and change their 20mph plans. At 20's Plenty we take the view that all evidence is useful evidence but needs to be put into context to understand how relevant it is. In the case of the statistics quoted by Manchester there is considerable doubt as to whether they can tell us anything positive or negative, but may point to things which Manchester needs to do better in its 20mph roll out. We list the main flaws and what may be learnt from them. Continue reading

Wiltshire Council misinforms public on 20mph zones outside schools

People in Wiltshire could think that their council is being progressive by its plans to allow schools to request a 20mph zone outside their school. Whilst in its press release it says :- "We want to balance the needs of local people with the need to ensure children can travel to and from school safely, and I think this is a great way to do that" and in its web news release actually shows a picture of a mandatory 20mph zone (you can tell its mandatory because it uses a red circle) but what we have confirmed with them is that it is actually only offering is an advisory temporary  limit which any driver with knowledge of the highway code knows is not mandatory. In fact the actual speed limit on the road remains at 30mph. We call upon Wiltshire council to stop misinforming its parents and children about its intentions and what they can request. Continue reading

20mph and its role in London's Vision Zero Plans

London is developing its Vision Zero Plan to reduce casualties on London roads. Here is our view on how 20mph limits fit into those plans. Continue reading

A Call for Safety Camera Enforcement of 20mph limits

Blog -  by Anna Semlyen, 20’s Plenty for Us National Campaign Manager,  MSc Health Economics @AnnaSemlyen1 anna.s@20splenty.org Continue reading

20's Plenty responds to DfT Cycling and Walking Consultation

Our view is that the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy will fail in its aim to create a walking and cycling nation. Our response follows :-   Continue reading

Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy needs Vision

Last night I attended the DfT Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy briefing in Manchester. This is part of their consultation process on their "ambition" for walking and cycling in England. See https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/draft-cycling-and-walking-investment-strategy I came away underwhelmed at what they called a "strategy to create a walking and cycling nation". Whilst there was a collection of funds and packages that will support the encouragement of walking and cycling in some places and in some ways, there was no symbolic national gesture that the government really meant to create a "walking and cycling nation". Those who are supporters of walking and cycling should respond to this consultation and make it very clear that the policy strategy lacks ambition and unless radically changed will make little difference to the promotion and development of walking and cycling in England. Continue reading

One year zone 30 in Ghent city center: rate drops and fewer accidents

We noticed this report on the success of the new Zone 30 in the Belgian city of Ghent. It may be viewed here but the English translation of the web page follows. Continue reading