Change is palpable on our streets. Trends show a huge rise in electrically assisted transport like e-bikes. Politicians valuing health are increasingly valuing the role of walkers, e- and folding bikes and scooter riders in accessing towns sustainably.
Providing primarily for private cars isn’t smart – they’re jammed up, dangerous, dirty, climate damaging and an inefficient use of city space to drive or park. The safe movement of people matters more than solo driver convenience.
Since accessibility trumps mobility we ask how to mix fewer dirty motors to safely co-exist with a rising percentages of walkers, cyclists, scooters and e-bikes as well as public transport. How can we fit cars round people not people round cars?
If politicians could walk in the shoes of a pedestrian or scooter rider, it’s crystal clear that high speeds are detrimental to healthy access around towns. 20’s Plenty because 20mph/30kph is globally recognised as the safe maximum limit where vulnerable road users mix with motor vehicles. A mistake on the roads shouldn’t be fatal.
London has a Vision Zero policy (no one die or be maimed on roads). 20mph is coming to the Congestion Charging area main routes. Transport for London has signalled its intention to extend 20mph to 100 miles of London’s other main roads and high streets.
In car speed limiters self-enforce compliance. They will be in all new cars from 2022. ‘Futuristic technology’ already exists - a car’s computer reading of speed signs increasing automation of driving, sensing of pedestrians and cyclist. Whilst autonomous vehicles are a decade plus away, we already have clever fail safe technology. Electric cars shift some of the pollution and are quieter, but are otherwise still a huge safety risk because of weight and speed.
Authorities must set the right speed limit -20mph for urban areas (except pedestrian areas which are car free). 30mph is outdated for any aspirational place. Indeed, 30mph damages towns economically by reducing walking, cycling or scooting, when research proves that people on foot or cycling spend more than car occupants. Bridges are key links in any cross journey and can’t be avoided. So must go 20mph.
Pollution reduces with 20mph limits. Getting a vehicle to 30mph takes 2.25 times that to get to 20mph. Therefore Air Quality Action areas must go 20mph especially as new research has proven cyclists breathe the most polluted air.
Providing cycle infrastructure is incremental and takes time and cannot cover a door to door network. Speed limits, however, can be altered at comparatively low cost, quickly and easily. An extra advantage is that cycle infrastructure is cheaper to install when starting from the baseline of a low speed environment.
Combining 20mph limits, separated cycle infrastructure, bollards for filtered permeability and pedestrianisation are smart ways to accessibility. Promoting walking, cycling scooters and bikes above electric cars is the way forward. Let’s put teeth in our transport hierarchy. When pedestrians really are top dog then 30mph is too fast anywhere that pedestrians might want to be. The lean, clean, future solution is for people and goods to go shorter distances, in lighter weight machines. 20’s Plenty for a friendly, nifty city.
The 20’s Plenty for the 2020’s conference looks forward to the next decade on 31st October at Waltham Forest Town Hall. Reserve your place/s at www.20sPlenty.events from £60+VAT for early bird charity rate.