Ready for 20 Presentation

At the 7th annual 20mph Places conference in Guildhall, City of London, after a warm welcome from Cllr Michael Welbank MBE, I made my presentation on how 20's Plenty/Love 30 is a developing standard for streets. Here is the text of that presentation.

Ladies and Gentleman - Thank you Councillor Welbank for your welcome and to the City of London Corporation for generously hosting this conference.

My thanks also to the delegates, presenters and sponsors for their contribution, and, of course, Landor Links.

But my thanks to the City of London goes far beyond today’s event. Every day 400,000 people come into the city to work and earn their living. The vast majority of those will walk from public transport or cycle in. And the City of London has made it very clear that for the benefit of these people and residents 20 is plenty. Furthermore, it’s endorsed by a police force that will find and fine those that don’t comply.

And many workers when returning to their home boroughs will have those same benefits on their streets whilst others will be campaigning and asking for their children, partners and parents to also be given 20mph limits where they live, shop, work and learn.

The good news is that 75% of inner London Boroughs are 20mph boroughs and its spreading to outer London as well. In fact 1/3 of Londoners now live in 20mph boroughs. I am also delighted to see that it’s also being adopted by TfL and that whilst still far too cool on the issue support by the  Metropolitan Police is increasing.

Perhaps I can move away from a London perspective. And why not. Just last week 20’s Plenty celebrated forming its 300th local campaign in the UK in the village of Selling in Kent. In fact we now have more branches than there are Crown Post Offices. In the UK over 15m people now live in local authorities which have agreed a 20mph limit for most residential roads. These include the majority of the 40 largest urban authorities, many smaller unitary authorities  and an increasing number of areas such as Lancashire, Sefton, Bath & NE Somerset and Cheshire West and Chester.

For the 20’s Plenty movement, 2015 was a real “tipping point year” when the whole campaign took on new dimensions and success.

In January Transport Scotland replaced its outdated 2002 20mph guidance. It swept aside the previous policy of advisory 20mph limits and instead advocated mandatory 20mph limits. Almost immediately Edinburgh City Council approved a 20mph limit for 80% of City roads. And I am delighted that the City is speaking today and will also be hosting our first Scottish conference in June.

In February  Warrington won awards for its 20mph roll-out, Bristol with its 20mph limits was voted “most desirable city in the UK” and Brighton won both the “Top Transport” and “City of the Year” CIVITAS Awards. Also NICE reviewed “tackling the causes of early death” and reminded councils that 20mph is “cost effective as the recommended speed limit for child protection and to support public sector equality duties”.

March saw our 6th annual 20mph conference being held in Cambridge where we set out the case for a national 20mph limit for England. We reported on the London Boroughs which in just 3 months had seen Tower Hamlets, Southwark, Hackney, Croydon, Hounslow and Wandsworth making substantial progress on their 20mph borough roll-outs. TfL also announced the trial of 20mph limits with enforcement on many of the Red Routes.

April included a presentation at the Irish Road Safety Agency conference in Dublin where we made the case for 30km/h limits. Later in December Kilkenny became Ireland’s first city to introduce 30km/h limits on all its housing estates. The “Love 30” campaign is now making headway in Ireland with its advocacy of a national 30km/h urban limit.

In September we saw Lewisham announce its 20mph plans and Wandsworth, also announced plans to consult on 20mph limits for all its residential roads. Transport Scotland announced the trialling of 20mph limits on main routes through several Scottish towns.

In December we were asked to travel to South America and present to invited officers, media and politicians in Sao Paulo on the benefits and progress of 20mph/30kmh campaigns and initiatives in UK and Europe. We presented alongside the World Health Organisation, WRI Sustainable Cities and Monash University (Victoria, Australia). City transport officials also announced their first 30km/h zones being set in Sao Paulo.

We also won a “Streetsie” when the video of our campaign made by StreetFilms of New York was voted the favourite StreetFilm of 2015.

During all this time we were supporting local campaigns around the country and working on our numerous briefing sheets/press releases. Well done to Anna and Jeremy for all their work. Some recent briefings include 20mph limits as :-

  • A Vaccination for Built Up Area Residents
  • For Older People and Independent Ageing
  • A litmus test for Public Health Outdoors
  • To Reduce Toxic Diesel Emissions
  • ..and Thinking Big for Big Results and Culture Change.

In our local campaigns activists were doing huge work in making the case for 20mph limits in their communities. And our partner organisations of BRAKE, Living Streets, CTC, British Cycling, RoadPeace and many more in public health have also being very pro-active on the need to adopt a national 20mph default urban limit.

There is a lot of talk of Europe at the moment and we note that it also is catching the 20’s Plenty or Love 30 bug.

In Netherlands and Norway 30km/h is already universal in most towns and in Spain a default 30k limit for urban roads is passing through parliament. And here we can see all the other places that are Loving 30km/h.

I would suggest that the developing national and international consensus is that “20 is Plenty” on most urban and village streets.

In fact that “consensus” is the key to both understanding the reason why 20mph limits are set and also in understanding how compliance can be maximised.  That consensus is backed by a professional consensus, particularly from public health professionals, who see how our blighted streets have become barriers to active travel, public health and independent mobility.

There is also the realisation that whilst cars may dominate a street scene, it is people outside of cars that are the pre-dominant form of travel and street users.

So if it may be clear that politicians in urban areas do understand the 20’s Plenty benefits and are prepared to make the commitment for lower limits what are the largest barriers. Well we are now focussing on making the case at national and shire county level.

For that community consensus is not being helped by a government that hides behind the fig-leaf of localism.

When the dis-benefits of smoking in public places were recognised the government did not adopt a “localism” approach leaving local authorities to set public space bans independently. That would have created a postcode lottery on public health. And it wasn’t left to local police forces to decide whether to enforce or no.  Such a disparity would have been used as an excuse for personal non-compliance.

Whilst admitting that the country is in transition to a de facto 20mph urban limit, the government is failing to manage that transition. This has both loaded many of the costs of implementation onto local authorities (through additional signage and local engagement) and presented the excuse of non-universal implementation to non-compliers. It has failed to provide the funding, context and simplified administrative processes for implementation and enforcement that would make a difference.

Whilst we have near universal compliance to end the blighting of public spaces with tobacco smoke, the government has failed to grasp the nettle on the blighting of public spaces by fast moving metal bodies and exhaust emissions.

Our other focus is on county councils who so often seem to have transport and liveability policies written on the back of a petrol receipt from behind a steering wheel. Many need assistance in understanding just how popular and beneficial lower limits are in their villages and towns. And we will see an excellent example of how the Kent communities are campaigning this afternoon.

Looking forward, I am delighted that Atkins will today be presenting the first public report on their analysis of the effectiveness of 20mph limits. The quantification of both reduced danger and the far wider benefits of emission reduction, active travel encouragement, liveability, etc, will be very beneficial. It could answer these questions

  • What is the correlation between degrees of enforcement and compliance?
  • How does engagement effect consensus so increasing acceptance, behaviour change and compliance?
  • How do light touch engineering features such as gateway 20mph zones affect success and compliance?

It may well provide the background for a national default 20mph limit that would have huge benefits in cost and signage reduction, and endorsement of what communities already believe is right. However I am not sure that we should hold our breath at the moment.

Traffic Authorities should not delay implementing wide-area 20mph limits. Indeed, given local authority statutory duties on public health, road safety and equality it is difficult to see how any can cling on to endorsing 30mph on residential and urban roads.

And here is how to be successful.

Firstly, be bold.  Recognise that 20mph limits have strong public support and in almost every pilot or implementation that support increases. Expect about 10% against and a massive 70% in favour.

Recognise the diminishing returns of targeted and isolated limits which, whilst having a localised effect, endorse 30mph speeds elsewhere.

Recognise the developing national consensus towards 20mph as a default especially with regard to active travel, public health and equality which cannot be met with isolated schemes. This provides a new and changed framework for decision making that can cross party boundaries, gain wide political support and build public consensus.

And when you do move on to implementation here are some suggestions:-

  • Set up a 20mph board with representation from multiple agencies including public health, traffic, emergency services, education, cross party members and local campaigners.
  • Focus on compliance rather than enforcement with police playing an active role in the 20mph board.
  • Look for wide sources of funding, especially from public health in engagement and behaviour change.
  • Conduct 6 months of engagement and value marketing whilst preparing TROs and signage.
  • Do not be prescriptive on exceptions based on current speeds. Guidance separates the need to fully take account of the needs of vulnerable road users (and public sector equality duties) from how you gain compliance. The latter can be enhanced by additional signage, light touch engineering and enforcement.
  • Allow TRO consultation to nuance the plans rather than undermine them. 
  • Roll-out in phased geographic basis
  • Plan part of your budget as contingency for some selective retrospective light-touch engineering.
  • Call on 20’s Plenty for Us for advice. Many do.

20mph limits aren’t a panacea. They don’t solve all the problems of road safety, obesity, public health, social inclusion, independent child and elderly mobility and community liveability. But they will provide not only a foundation for all of those but also a catalyst for really changing the way communities feel, and use, their public spaces that we call streets.

When 20’s Plenty began in 2007 there was only one city, Portsmouth, implementing an authority-wide 20mph limit for its 200,000 residents. Now there are 75 times that number or 25% of the UK population living in 20mph places.

20mph limits are the developing consensus on how people should drive near people.

But before I show the video, may I finally say :-

  • To campaigners, you are the public voice of our communities. Keep up your fantastic work.
  • To councillors, be bold, use the developing consensus and support for 20mph limits to really make a change in the way your public places are shared.
  • To officers, be creative in using light-touch engineering, social engagement and behaviour change to help your communities benefit from lower limits and maximise compliance.
  • To presenters, thank you for your interest and involvement here today. It is much appreciated.

Thank you for listening. VIDEO

Showing 2 reactions

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.