Monday, 17 August 2009

Police Enforcement

I recently answered a question from a campaigner on police enforcement of 20 mph limits. Here is my answer :-

Well lets start at the beginning. Before the 01/2006 guidelines then the 20 mph Zones were meant to be self enforcing with physical calming. So if that is the case then the police felt that enforcing such zones was not worth while because there were really no major compliance problems. They felt that enforcing 30 mph limits without physical calming was always more cost effective and efficient than enforcing 20 mph zones.

At the time 20 mph limits (without calming) were limited to single streets and not used on an area wide basis. Technicalities caused problems with enforcement :-

  1. Most speed detection devices were “radar” based and were not “type approved” for speeds lower than 20 mph.
  2. Most 20 mph limits were quite short (such as outside schools) and did not allow sufficient distance for measuring the speeds.

There are two developments which have overcome such objections :-

  1. Now most speed detectors are “laser” based and “type approved” from 0 to 200mph.
  2. Now 20 mph on an area basis provides no problems with the distance for measurement.

Hence there is now no reason for 20 mph to be opposed by the police on the grounds of not wishing to enforce it. Especially as we are (when looking at authority wide 20 mph) talking about the same roads that they were enforcing at 30 mph.

Unfortunately, the Police have been very slow to react to this and poor at sensing the changing public mood. Hence many Police forces still subscribe to the old view that 20 mph limits do not need to be enforced.

However, in Portsmouth, Warrington , London and Oxford this is not the case. 20 mph speeders there are being given tickets!

Best regards


Friday, 14 August 2009

Snip from an email debate

This is an email "bite" from a recent exchange of emails regarding speed limits:-

Hi xxxx,

Nice to hear from you.

I must admit I am fairly ambivalent about fixed speed cameras. But, by a speed camera I mean any device that measures the speed of a vehicle and is used for enforcement. Most of the hand-held devices also take photos. I myself would prefer randomly placed, covert and mobile cameras rather than fixed ones which every petrol head can have programmed into his/her “Road Angel” so that they can ignore limits on the rest of the network. The “howls of protest” from some about speed cameras, hence do not get my sympathy.

The issue for most vulnerable road user casualties is that they show very little clustering. Hence any data led retrospective engineering or speed camera placement will not resolve the historical collisions and will probably be in the wrong place for the future ones. We need a broader, area wide approach which will increase the awareness by all drivers of the need to moderate speed and action in order to not only increase the opportunity and time to avoid a collision in the event of an incident, but also to decrease traffic noise and pollution, and increase the amenity of other people using those streets.

Therefore lower speeds, particularly in residential and urban areas becomes a pivot point around which communities can debate the balance they want between maximising speed of vehicular transport and maximising amenity and safety. And once that debate begins and follows its course then most communities come to the conclusion that a 30 mph speed limit on residential and urban streets is not justifiable. We then get that “paradigm shift” when it becomes clear that Road Safety is about people and not highway engineering. Its about people realising that when we are driving in a motor vehicle we exist in a sea of individuals rather than a stream of motorists. We start to drive as an engagement with the rest of society rather than a disengagement. We recognise that “speed” is not the same as “progress” and that our journey times are dictated by the time spent at congestion and other stoppages and not our maximum speed. Of course once this is realised then suddenly so much of the “aura” that has been built up around motoring disappears and all those adverts are seen for be as shallow as they actually are.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not anti-motorist. But we do need to “normalise” our relationship with the motor vehicle and stop colluding with manufacturers who’s sole interest is in fuelling our emotional dependence upon their products.

I can quite understand there being a debate about the correct speed limit for a road, but do not agree with a “woolly” advisory limit that people can ignore with impunity.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Transport Org Responses to A Safer Way

Anyone who wishes to know the current thinking on Road Safety of any of the following organisations can see their response to the recent DfT “A Safer Way” consultation :-

20's plenty for Us Response

British Horse Society Response

British Vehicle Rental Association Response

Campaign For Better Transport Response

Campaign for protection of Rural England Response

CTC Response

Cyclenation Response

Cycling Projects Response

Devon County Council Response

English National Park Authorities Response

Greater Manchester Councils Response

Greater Manchester Cycle Campaign's Response

Living Streets Response

London Councils Response

Oxford Pedestrian's Association Response

Parliamentary Advisory Committee on Transport Safety Response

Play England Response

RAC Foundation Response

Road Haulage Association Response

RoadPeace Response

ROSPA Response

Royal Town Planning Institute Response

Sustainable Development Commission Response

Sustrans Response

The AA Response

West Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership Response

They can all be opened directly or by going to the 20’s Plenty For Us “A Safer Way” webpage here.

You may note that many of them support 20 mph speed limits for residential roads

Please forward this on to any other contacts who you think may be interested.

If you would like an email when any new organisations are added then please email :



Sunday, 9 August 2009

Post to Halifax Courier

Residents of Triangle in Calderdale are seeking 20 mpg speed limits. The campaign was reported in the Halifax Courier see :-

Here is the post we made in response :-

mikkkkk said :-

"have any of these 'numpty bikers' hurt or killed anyone? thought not, therefore the '40-50 mph' is pretty irrelevant, as is the 20mph limit. i think you need to stop looking out of your window & get a life. as i said, speed doesn't cause crashes, idiots do"

Well of course they have hurt people. What about the 9 year old who is not allowed to walk to school because his mum is frightened of the traffic, what about the elderly who stay locked and isolated in their houses because of the "numpty" drivers and bikers.

What about the mums and dads who feel they have to drive their children to school for fear of traffic speed. What about the noise that increases peoples stress levels when they walk or cycle. What about the asthmatic and the problems caused by too many cars and too much pollution.

Increased vehicle speed rarely leads to a decrease in journey times. It simply gives the driver a short "rush" as they "beat the system". It maybe releives their frustration, but their minimal gain is society's loss. "Speed becomes greed" when it prevents people from doing things which they have a right to do.

And it isn't necessarily speed that "causes crashes" but lower speeds can give everyone the time for them to be avoided. That's why so many other countries in Northern Europe have lower urban and residential speeds and half the rate of pedestrian and cycling deaths we have in the UK.

How much longer must everyone suffer so that inconsiderate and illegal drivers can be selfish?

Well done folk of Triangle for seeking to make their village a better place to live. Lets trust that Calderdale Council and the Police will implement and enforce lower speeds where people in Triangle live.

Best regards

Rod King
20's Plenty for Us

Saturday, 8 August 2009

How 20's Plenty For Us began

Earlier this week I received an email froma Living Streets campaigner who asked hpow the 20's Plenty for Us campaign started. Hence it seemed a reasonable first post to make on this blog.

Well if confessions are in order then I would have to explain that 20’s Plenty for Us was born out of an interest in cycle campaigning. From 2000 I was an active member of Warrington Cycle Campaign and in 2004 went on a cycle trip to our twin town Hilden, Nr Dusseldorf, to compare their cycle facilities with those of Warrington. As Hilden made 23% of in town trips by bicycle I was expecting superb cycle facilities. Instead I found that they were rubbish and far inferior to Warrington’s. But the key to their success in modal shift was the fact that in the 1990’s they had implemented a 30 kph (18.5 mph) speed limit on all residential roads and those with shared usage.

Hence Hilden became my personal road to Damascus (sorry a biblical reference to Saul rather than a Bob Hope film!) and from then on I realised that segregation and expensive cycle facilities were merely enabling motor vehicle speeds to remain high and did little to reduce cyclist danger. From then on I started campaigning for lower speeds in residential and urban roads as a cyclist.

The more I campaigned, the more I realised that with pedestrian deaths 4 times those of cyclists then a very similar case existed for lower speeds for their benefit. And as soon as I adopted a “mode independent” campaign then suddenly I was no longer a “whinging cyclist” but was representing the young, the old, the disabled, the walkers and the cyclists. Doors opened which previously had been closed.

And so in 2007 I founded 20’s Plenty for Us. Whilst many organisations (including Living Streets) had 20’s Plenty “on their radar” no-one had it “in its sights”. I realised that a single issue campaign could transcend familiar prejudices and provide a clear way forward without being sullied by factional interests, dogma or ideology. 20’s plenty for Us started to work with pedestrian and cycling organisations alike. Work by 20’s Plenty for Us in 2008 included the co-hosting of the “Streets Ahead” cycle campaigning conference with Warrington Cycle Campaign which focussed on mutually beneficial campaigns which would bring together all vulnerable road users, including pedestrians and even horse riders. The conference was an absolute success with more attendees than any previous conferences and we included presentations from not only 20’s Plenty campaigners from Norwich and Oxford, but also Lucy Abel of Living Streets and Josh hart who had just completed post graduate research into the effect of traffic volumes on social cohesion in Bristol.

Later on that year Josh joined Living Streets as their Network Development Manager. From those associations and the synergy between Living Streets and 20’s Plenty for us policies increased, and I was delighted when Living Streets launched their own campaign for setting 20 mph as the default speed limit for roads just last month.

The real opportunity with 20’s plenty as a campaign is that it forces a re-consideration of the way in which roads can be shared. It goes beyond simple (but very important) road safety and starts to effect “quality of life” as communities realise the heavy price that their children and residents pay in reduced independent mobility when people are too scared to walk or cycle on our roads due to the speed of traffic.

At 20’s Plenty for Us we do not advocate a blanket speed limit of 20 mph. Only that it should become the default and that any local authority can set a higher limit where it believes that there is reduced danger to vulnerable road users.

The best approach to gaining change is not actually through council officers. By experience we have found that the best way is to build up community aspirations for safer roads and enabling modal shift. Once councillors realise that this is what their constituents want then they tend to put pressure on officer to work out “how they can” rather than suffer their traditional “why we can’t”. There is already strong support for 20’s plenty with over 70% of drivers in a recent British Social Attitudes Survey.

Of course, the background to all of this is that our culture has actually changed. Both at community level and at establishment level it is being realised that the “pace and haste” of motor vehicles on our roads does very little to reduce journey times but does a great deal of harm in death, injury and fear of using our roads. “Speed becomes greed” when it stops children and adults from choosing the method of independent transport they wish. Far from being a victimless crime, excessive speed on our roads is creating an environment where millions of parents drive their children to school, with all the cost and health consequences. Millions more old or disabled stay imprisoned in their homes because they cannot drive and fear to walk. 20’s Plenty is not just about reducing road deaths or appeasing cyclists. It has become the pivotal campaign in deciding whether our roads exist as spaces between houses for motorists or public benefit.

In Portsmouth, Newcastle, Oxford, Leicester, Norwich and Islington, councils either have or are in the process of making 20 mph the default speed limit for their residential roads without traffic calming. Many more authorities arte well on their way with large scale implementations planned or pilots in progress. 20’s Plenty for Us has had huge success in the last two years and we now have local campaigns throughout the country. We have also been asked to present in Brussels, Stormont (to Northern Ireland Assembly Members) and to many local public meetings and conferences around the country.

We are at a cross roads between sinking into the same auto-obsessed culture as in America or developing the same values as our Northern European neighbours. Our urban and residential speed limits are 60% higher at 30 mph than those in most Northern European towns. A road fatality in Britain is almost twice as likely to be a pedestrian as in the Netherlands, Germany or Scandinavia. Our skewing of road deaths towards pedestrians is the worst in western Europe, with only Poland and Lithuania being worse in the whole of Europe.

The time for 20’s Plenty has come. I trust that you and your colleagues can help it arrive in your town as well.

Best regards