20mph Council Myth Buster

Whilst many urban councils have pressed ahead with 20mph limits, some County and, particularly Shire Councils have not always told the truth if reluctant to implement 20mph. We bust the common 20mph myths.

Myth to manage expectations

Reality refs paragraphs in DfT Guidance on Setting Local Speed Limits 01/2013  https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/63975/circular-01-2013.pdf

No 20mph limits  on A or B roads – UNTRUE

Traffic authorities can introduce 20mph on “Major streets where there are – or could be - significant numbers of journeys on foot, and/or where pedal cycle movements are an important consideration, and this outweighs the disadvantage of longer journey times for motorised traffic:-para 84.  20mph A roads are found in London, Edinburgh, Thirsk, Belfast, Portsmouth and more.

No 20mph limit if current average speed is over 24 mph – UNTRUE

para 96 references 20mph roads in Portsmouth with pre-speeds over 24mph. Para 97 states of roads with pre-speeds above 24mph “Traffic authorities are already free to use additional measures in 20 mph limits to achieve compliance, such as some traffic calming measures and vehicle activated signs, or safety cameras.”

No 20mph if local police are unsupportive – UNTRUE

or 20mph limits are not enforceable” – UNTRUE

In a democracy elected representatives set laws, police enforce those laws and an independent judiciary sentences offenders. Any police attempt to undermine this or for elected representatives to veto setting limits based on police funding / preferences is undemocratic. Para 85 says “To achieve compliance there should be no expectation on the police to provide additional enforcement beyond their routine activity.” Forces in Lancashire, Merseyside, Thames Valley, Avon & Somerset, Cheshire, Cambridge, Metropolitan and City of London all enforce 20mph. NDORS20 training courses exist for 20mph offenders.

There haven’t been enough casualties on this road – UNTRUE

Collision history is only one of many factors in deciding limits. Others listed in para 30 include road geometry and engineering, road users compositions including vulnerable road users; speeds; and road environment including possible impacts on residents (e.g. severance, noise, or air quality). Para 32 says “the needs of vulnerable road users must be fully taken into account”

Any of the above myths show ignorance of the DfT guidelines and could result in not complying with statutory responsibilities for setting the correct local speed limits.  Usually it boils down to “pre-speeds so high that physical calming would be needed and we can’t afford that so SPEEDS MUST STAY HIGH!”  Yet the requirement to set the correct limit and methods of compliance are different matters. Campaigners should beware of half-hearted initiatives like temporary or advisory limits by schools. Children walking or cycling need protection over their whole journey from home to school, playground, shops and friends.

More details are at http://www.20splenty.org/shire_counties_and_20mph_limits

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