Wednesday, 5 January 2011

20's Plenty for Us in 2010

Each year at this time I reflect on our campaign and what we have achieved over the last 12 months.

20’s Plenty for Us has now been operating for 3 complete years. From our start up in Nov 2007 we had objectives across three areas of operation:-

1) Supporting local campaigns for 20 mph as the default speed limit.
2) Influencing the establishment and ensuring 20 mph speed limits are kept on the transport and political agenda.
3) Working with other voluntary organisations and transport professionals to ensure maximum support for 20 mph speed limits.

I am pleased to report that during 2010 we have made tremendous headway in each of these areas. We have established ourselves as a leading influencer in Road Danger Reduction in the UK and this has resulted in over 5m people now living in local authorities with a “Total 20” policy of 20 mph as the default for their residential streets.

We started the year with the announcement of new Speed Limit Guidance from DfT in December 09 that:-

“We want to encourage highway authorities to introduce, over time, 20 mph zones or limits into streets which are primarily residential in nature and into town or city streets where pedestrian and cyclist movements are high, such as around schools, shops, markets, playgrounds and other areas, where these are not part of any major through route.”

This was a major step forward and laid down the foundation for our campaigning in 2010. We immediately followed it by a January discussion day in London held in association with the Urban Design Group looking at how the guidance provided new opportunities for local authorities to implement Total 20 schemes.

And ever since then the year has been hectic, busy and full of fantastic progress and achievements. Besides the thousands of emails with campaigners and others, here are some of the activities and events of the year.

Conferences and meetings we attended and made presentations at :-

• New 20 mph Guidelines Conference.

• Sheffield on the Move meeting

• Presentations to York politicians and public

• Submission to Brighton & Hove Scrutiny Committee

• Submission to DfT on new guidance

• Ecobuild Exhibition Presentation

• Herne Hill Public Meeting

• Bodmin Public and Councillor Meeting

• Meeting with Directors of Public Health

• Presentation to Tees Valley Local Authorities.

• Presentation to Liverpool Scrutiny Committee

• Wilmslow Public Meeting

• Discussions with Transportation Alternatives (New York)

• Published Critical Review of Essex Speed Management Strategy

• Public Meeting in Crewe

• Public Meeting in Chesterfield

• Public Meeting in Cheltenham

• Public Meeting in Sheffield

• Public Meeting in Lambeth

• Presentation to Hartlepool Scrutiny Committee

• Presentation to Transport Planners Society - Manchester

• Public Meeting in Wilmslow

• Presentation/Workshop at CTC/Cyclenation Conference – Portsmouth

• Presentation at 3M Traffic Engineers Conference

In the summer we were also interviewed by StreetFilms who put together a video on our campaign in the UK. This has now received over 6,000 plays and has been included in their “Top 15 Streetfilms of 2010”.

We also were invited to present at the Stop Speeding Summit conference in New York. Walking and Cycling campaigners over there had noticed our progress on 20 mph limits in the UK and arranged for us to present at the event being held by Transportation Alternatives. 6 other events were also arranged during my visit, including a walk around with a senator, meeting the councillor in charge of transport in New York City and also an interview which resulted in a profile in the New Yorker magazine.

During the year we also attracted some modest funding and this enabled us to take on Anna Semlyen as Campaign Manager in August. This has really enabled us to increase our profile and in particular our assistance to local campaigners. Anna is available for 20 hours a week with the responsibility to assist local campaigners, so please make sure that you get help from Anna in your campaigning. Contact Anna at or call her on 07572120439.

We have also seen a number of Local Authorities now moving to a default 20 mph limit for residential streets. This takes the total population of such Local Authorities to over 5m.

We have also seen a doubling of the number of local campaigns set up to get 20 mph limits in their communities. We now have 60 local campaigns around the country. Many have also taken advantage of our new website template so that they can easily set up their own local 20’s Plenty for Us website to reflect their local campaign. See as an example.

We have also seen 20 mph speed limits increasingly appearing in articles in the media as a viable intervention. In publications such as London Evening Standard, Local Transport Today, and countless regional newspapers, the debate on how we share our roads is focussing on lower speeds as the key way in which our streets can be made better places to be. We have also developed a number of fact and briefing sheets for campaigners.

Other campaigns for active travel, and especially health, have come out in favour of 20 mph limits. We have worked with Sustrans, CTC, RoadPeace and others on the Quality Streets campaign for 20 mph limits. We have also had increasing links and discussions with health professionals about reducing the health cost of crashes and creating an environment more conducive to active travel.
Other recognition for the success of our activities has come from the Sustainable Development Commission and also the National Council for Voluntary Organisations. Both of whom used us a Case Studies for successful campaigning.

And through all of this we have been sustained by the activities, support and inspiration from campaigners like yourselves. We have seen individual campaigns progress from a tentative enquiry about 20 mph speed limits into a whirlwind of activity that results in developing democratic change. Perhaps no better example exists than the efforts of Sarah Sharp in Chichester who contacted us with an enquiry earlier in the year and now has the City Council demanding 20 mph limits from the County Council. Well done Sarah. Other new ideas have come from campaigners including the successful “Wheelie Bin Sticker” campaign in Limpley Stoke, Wiltshire and we now have such A3 stickers available for local campaigns.

So we go into 2011 full of enthusiasm for our cause and confident that we will be able to make progress in what is still only our 4th year of activity. We face some key challenges which we see as :-

The Police – Part of the solution or part of the problem?

Some Police authorities can still be entrenched in the view that 20 mph limits require physical calming and can sometimes be unwilling to take an appropriate role in speed management. This needs challenging. Too often the police have a mental block about 20 mph limit enforcement which leaves them propping up higher speeds in our towns with all the cost and trauma which go with that.

LTP3s – Turning good intentions into implementations.

We need to ensure that commitments within Local Transport Plans do get transformed into actions. With the Cost of Crashes in the UK amounting to nearly £20,000,000,000 per annum (£9,625m for direct casualty costs and a similar amount on unreported vehicle only damage) then there is a huge financial benefit from reducing our speeds and reducing the crashes. We can expect handwringing from Local Authorities saying that 20mph schemes cannot be funded, but this must be challenged by asking how the same authority plans to fund the much greater expenditure on crashes which could be avoided. Our cause has always contained a moral imperative. Clearly it now has a financial imperative as well. Couple that with all the concerns about increasing fuel prices and the viability of being reliant upon motor vehicles for transport then our campaign takes on an even greater significance.

Already for 2011 we are beginning to pack our 20’s Plenty for Us calendar with events and new initiatives. We expect to be busy and feel that this will be a great year for the advancement of Road Danger Reduction in the UK. It is becoming increasing clear that our campaign is winnable, desirable and financially beneficial. Both Anna and myself look forward to working will all our campaigners and activists to make 2011 the year when we can say that 20’s Plenty for Us All in the UK.

Our best wishes and a Happy New Year to you and your families.