And so on 29th June 2004, the late Councillor Lafferty, as mayor, waived me off from in front of the town hall.
Little did I know that the journey I was commencing would last many years and take in cities all around the country and even as far as Brussels and New York when I subsequently set up 20’s Plenty for Us as a national campaign to support lower speed limits for residential streets. We now have over 70 local campaign groups and a growing national and international reputation.
- That with pedestrian deaths 4 times more in number than cyclists then lower speed limits really are crucial to pedestrians whether they area adults or children. Furthermore the results from 20mph town-wide speed limits in Portsmouth show that motor vehicle passenger casualties reduce by some 37%. This is a road safety initiative that benefits all road users. It is certainly not anti-car, but merely pro-people.
- That the more drivers themselves who live in a 20mph street then the greater will be their benefits for them and their family and also their compliance with other people’s 20mph limits.
- I realised that journey times are almost completely determined by how long we are stopped and that maximum speed has a minimal effect.
- I learnt that Directors of Public Health are some of the strongest supporters of 20mph limits, particularly in the North West where child and adult casualties are higher than the national average.
- I realised that in Warrington we injure or kill 1,000 people a year on our roads at an estimated cost of £37m per annum. And that in almost every one of those a child was involved. Perhaps not directly being injured or killed, but in the inevitable aftermath of a casualty in the family. For a child losing a relative suddenly, violently and wastefully is a huge emotional burden.
- I also learnt that minds can change. That officers who maybe had been less convinced were able to take their own path through the evidence and through the Warrington pilots and then come out in support of this important initiative. And those minds are not just here in Warrington but in Portsmouth, Oxford, Lancashire, Islington, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Hartlepool and Bristol where local authorities are implementing 20mph limits on a town-wide basis. I am pleased to have been asked for a meeting with transport minister Norman Baker in 3 weeks time to discuss 20mph implementations around the country
- And I have also learnt that here in Warrington, we can replace angst with action. That not only can councillors debate and decide in favour of lower speeds, but also that Warrington citizens can moderate their speed in order to make the roads a better place to be.
I am pleased to report that the committee approved the Traffic Orders and that these will become effective on 15th April 2011.