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20mph zones “may go Scotland wide”: The Scotsman

Monday 19th August 2013

Compulsory 20mph traffic-calming zones may be introduced across cities and towns in Scotland, according to a report in The Scotsman.

The move follows a pilot scheme on 25 miles of streets on the south side of Edinburgh last year; The Scotsman report says that initial results show that the trial cut car speeds and accidents and improved conditions for walkers and cyclists.

Edinburgh City Council is now considering extending 20mph zones to all residential and shopping streets and even some main roads, which would be the first scheme of its type in the country.

Transport Scotland, the Government’s transport agency, said once the trial had been fully evaluated it would advise other councils on how to replicate Edinburgh’s success.

Although advisory 20mph zones have been introduced in many urban areas, compulsory zones are relatively rare in Scotland.

Lesley Hinds, Edinburgh City Council’s transport convener, said: “In the pilot area, the level of support for the 20mph speed limit has increased, and was viewed by residents as safer for children walking about the area and to play in the street, better conditions for walking and fewer traffic incidents.

“The speed surveys have demonstrated the 20mph speed limit has resulted in an overall positive drop in speeds.

“Taking account of the positive feedback from this pilot scheme, subject to final approval of the local transport strategy in January, a programme will be implemented to extend 20mph limits to all residential streets, shopping areas and main roads with large numbers of pedestrians.”

Cycling Scotland said cutting speeds was key to making communities “more focused on people” than cars.

Ian Aitken, Cycling Scotland chief executive, said: “We’re very much in favour of 20mph zones and area-wide 20mph limits, as they can have a positive impact on traffic speeds and casualties, which helps protect people travelling by bike or on foot.”

However, Neil Greig, policy and research director of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “In the right places, 20mph zones are very popular, but their impact on road safety in pure injury numbers is often oversold.

“Projects from elsewhere in the UK have shown mixed results, with speeds coming down but crash numbers much the same and even a decrease in walking and cycling in cities such as Portsmouth.

“If the schemes in Edinburgh have been popular and left residents feeling safer and more likely to cycle, then we have no problem with them being extended. However, we do have concerns about blanket approaches, particularly when main roads are included.”

A spokeswoman for Transport Scotland said: “Transport Scotland is committed to encouraging local authorities to consider 20mph zones in all residential areas.

“The Scottish Government has encouraged the use of 20mph speed limits in residential areas and around schools, and has issued guidance most recently in 2006.

“Transport Scotland is assisting the City of Edinburgh Council with the evaluation of its 20mph speed limit pilot scheme in south central Edinburgh, which has designated all side streets, and some of the main routes, in the area as 20mph.

“We are aware of the DfT guidance issued in January which actively encourages local authorities to introduce more 20mph limits. When we receive the council’s pilot project final report we will review this, and consider issuing best practice guidance to local authorities.”

Click here to read the full report.

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Pierre: I’ll try and answer your query within the word count! We have in the UK, national speed limits which apply by default to certain classifications of roads and their physical characteristics i.e. street-lit, single carriageway, dual c/way, motorway etc. and which simply indicate that speeds should not exceed x mph for roads of that particular classification. However, because it’s very much a ‘one size fits all’ system within each classification, inevitably you will find roads with posted speed limits much higher than what would be practical and sensible.

Contrary to what some of the public think, the limits do not indicate that it’s safe to drive at that particular speed on that particular road – it is up to the driver to drive responsibly and safely within that particular posted limit, which ties in with your last paragraph, the sentiment of which I’m sure all readers would agree with.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (4) | Disagree (2)
+2

If we don't have blanket speed limits as wished for by this government then every side road off trunk/main roads will be required to have signs placed. One either side of the road - if that side road leads to another trunk/main road it will require four signs.

Has or can anyone calculate the cost for the implementation of these signs, particularly when it's not yet established whether they do indeed reduce incidents?

Also as I have stated before, smidsy's will still happen as cars on main roads will still be travelling at up to 30 mph and cars exiting minor roads will still come out accelerating as they do so at normal speeds. Nothing will have changed there at all.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (2) | Disagree (1)
+1

As a lay-person I've read the posts with interest but will leave the debating to your superior knowledge.

I would ask one question though - in my area of the country we've had quite a few new 20 zones and quite a few of those lead into 'real' country lanes that then go back to national speed limits. I cannot reconcile how an inferior road surface, width and lighted area could be safe to travel at a higher speed? Or maybe I missed the bit that says without the regular ped or cyclist using the same stretch of road the vehicle driver is on their own (ref road risk)?

It's still a shame the establishment openly prefers schemes of this nature to demanding a higher standard of driving/riding for those using the public highways.
Pierre, Lancashire

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+3

Idris: Unfortunately, I don’t think you actually have the specific information/evidence I was asking about. Once more, you need to demonstrate how each and every one of the accidents that have occurred in any of these existing 20 schemes happened as a direct result of the lower speed limit (which is what you claim) and not just by coincidence, or alternatively, how they wouldn’t have happened if the limit had stayed at 30.
Accidents will still happen in 20 limits, but not because they’re 20s and a direct causational link should therefore not be assumed. There’s no reason why someone shouldn’t have concerns over proposed speed limits that will affect people 300 miles away, but to the general public, such concerns would tend to have more credibility if they came from a professional standpoint backed up by expertise and experience on the subject.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+1

Hugh, please read my web site pages in Portsmouth again, including all the correspondence exposing the incompetence and wishful thinking of those involved, the selective claims based on inadequate data and the misleading official reports. I had no particular interest in 20mph until I read the nonsense being written about them. And bravo Mr. Reynolds, you are exactly right - I could not have put it better myself.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

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+4

Hugh - where people live relative to where I live makes not the slightest difference to my concern about increases in serious injuries where 20mph limits are imposed, and I am astonished that you think it should. I confess that I am rather less concerned about such problems in Outer Mongolia than in Britain - while accepting that ideally I should not be, but as someone once said, we are all in this together.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

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+4

The older I get the more I think that incontravertible proof of anything is elusive. I have commented before that while it is possible to analyse what causes a collision, analysing an absence of collision necessarily involves speculation. What is incontravertible is that in the urban area with which I am familiar, the greatest number and severity of causalties cluster around the arterial road network, those roads least likely to be designated 20mph limits and those where such a limit is least likely to be observed. In that context my advice to the community I serve will always be to deploy the resources where the biggest problems are. If they have been told long enough and loud enough to disregard my advice then that's their business. But in my view the indiscriminate extension of 20 limits is like a safe sex campaign where you post a condom to every address in the country: very inclusive but no substitute for targetted action.
Tim Philpot, Wolverhampton

Agree (15) | Disagree (2)
+13

How apt the idiom - from the sublime to the ridiculous - is, when applied to the range of views expressed on the Roadsafety GB newsfeed. Even mind-boggling sometimes, Duncan.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+2

As speeds reduce the future path of a vehicle becomes more and more unpredictable. As all road accidents are caused by a failure of at least one of the parties involved to correctly predict the sequence of unfolding events then it stands to reason that more predictability rather than less would be a very good thing.

Another interesting fact is that at speeds below 8M/S (18mph) two wheelers enter an unstable weave mode and due to the unpredictability of this mode riders have to be constantly reacting to unexpected steering preturbations.

I wonder if the proponents of 20mph zones would like to explain why they think it is safer to have unstable and unpredictable vehicles driving through these zones rather than predictable and stable ones?
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

Agree (10) | Disagree (6)
+4

Idris: For anyone to take your and other’s opposition to these lower speed limits seriously, you need to demonstrate how each of the accidents that have occurred in the existing schemes were actually as a direct result of the lower speed limit and not just coincidence. I’ve looked at your website but can’t find any breakdown of any accidents i.e descriptions, locations, ‘who did what’ etc. I’ve asked Dave Finney and Eric Bridgstock for this on previous threads in the past but there seems to be some reluctance on their part to do this. What comes across is that you all have decided from the outset to oppose ‘20s’ simply because it’s a ‘speed management’ initiative and not because there’s anything intrinsically wrong with it and then gleefully hoped there would be something – anything – in the subsequent figures, no matter how vague, to substantiate your stance.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (11) | Disagree (6)
+5

Are ‘scientific tests’ not done on motor vehicles and their ancillary equipment before production? Then why not elsewhere? Judging by the number of restrictions and impediments to movement at junctions and roads based upon certain policies which themselves are based on theories, the public at large have very much been subjected to actions that they have neither condoned nor had any say in. When meetings are held to which the general public are invited, it has seen to be clear that such meetings have an agenda which is more akin to showing the public what will happen, rather than gauging any degree of support or otherwise.

The 20’s plenty slogan is just that, a catchy phrase that sounds like sense, but with no data to back its claimed effectiveness. Selecting data to support a theory is not any kind of ‘scientific’ approach, it’s more akin to the costermonger setting out his stall and putting all the best apples to the front. The devil is always in the detail, and the details are being kept hidden. One such fact that is not lauded by the 20’s plenty contingent, is that in most cases where 20mph would be a limit, traffic is more likely to be travelling at that speed or less already. The whole ethos of 20’s plenty is based on, and supported by those with a desire to see their efforts in local government lauded as “road safety worthies”. They are knitting hard and furious to pull wool over many eyes – and it’s not difficult. Accumulating scientific data is.
Derek Reynolds, Shropshire

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+3

If I was a resident of Scotland, eagerly awaiting this reduced speed limit in my road, I expect I would probably be a bit peeved about two residents in the south of England - 300 miles away – commenting scathingly on a scheme that does not concern them or affect them in any way.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+3

Portsmouth did decide not to publish any more results after the first two years, as Rod says, but he is also well aware that I obtained them anyway - and they they are all on my website with detailed analysis and correspondence - see: http://www.fightbackwithfacts.com/portsmouths-20mph-area/

In the limited space available here I confirmn that SI was 50% higher in the 20mph area than it would have been had the numbers followed national urban trends over those 4 years - the data is clear - for those prepared to admit its existence and face facts.

I must add that I agree with Eric and Dave, that it is vital to have competent and independent analysis of results, not the propganda we have been subjected to for so long.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

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0

Thanks Rod, Eric and Dave for your various contributions to this thread.

In very brief summary, my interpretation is that Dave and Eric want to see concrete proof that 20mph limits/zones reduce casualties, and say that at present there is no such evidence.

Rod, on the other hand, says that 20mph is not simply about casualty reduction, but is about creating an environment with wider community benefits, and giving communities what they want.

We will be able to hear from Road and Eric face-to-face on this subject at the National Road Safety Conference in November.

In the meantime, it would be interesting to hear what others think on this topic.
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News

Agree (6) | Disagree (2)
+4

Rod and I both want to improve our communities but by different means. Rod wants 20mph along with, presumably, enforcement whereas I want authorities to be competent and honest with their road safety interventions (specifically, to run scientific trials). I am trying to be constructive and impartial yet Rod is arguing as though our 2 objectives are incompatible.

It is not possible to have 20mph across Scotland instantaneously therefore it will have to be done in stages. All I am asking is that those stages are structured into RCTs (Randomised Controlled Trials). The nett result of running simple RCTs would be all the roads at 20mph exactly as Rod wants, all within the time-scale Rod wants. The difference being that, by structuring the implementation in a controlled way, the actual effects can be demonstrated and quantified scientifically.
Dave Finney, Slough

Agree (17) | Disagree (3)
+14

Rod
I chose my words carefully based on what I saw and heard at the 20mph Places Conference last year, where much time was devoted to how to convince the public that 20mph was a good idea, in the face of increasing evidence that it was having a negative effect on casualties. The answer was to steer clear of discussing road safety with the public, or use clever words to imply that 20mph was good for road safety.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (11) | Disagree (8)
+3

Eric

20mph limits on residential roads, an infliction! Really? An "unsuspecting and gullible public!" Clearly you have little regard for the views of the majority who ask for 20mph limits. And my post was answering Dave's comment regarding trials.

I know that for you everything comes down to absolute and convincing proof, with causality totally confirmed and of course with all your undeterminable factors taken into account. But debate is about understanding and responding to the various views of many rather than simply repeating the same thing.

I know that on speed control you will never be convinced and that goes for control by limits or cameras, or ISA. In the meantime communities will set 20mph as the maximum decent and legal speed they will accept on roads where those driving vehicles wish to "mix" with people walking, cycling, standing, chatting, crossing roads and doing all the things that the public demands should be able to be done in such public places.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us, Cheshire

Agree (11) | Disagree (14)
-3

Rod
You say "the world is real and not a laboratory", and yet this whole 20mph experiment has been inflicted on an unsuspecting and gullible world. Your posting on this story again fails to provide any evidence of improved road safety (reduced casualties) from 20mph schemes. If there were conclusive evidence of success it would be promoted widely on the 20's Plenty website and by the officials implementing the schemes. Instead we are fed highly selected and misleading data, as explained in my previous posting.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (14) | Disagree (13)
+1

Dave

I have said on many occasions that the whole 20's Plenty campaign is about far more than signs on sticks. It's about sensitising whole communities to the idea that their places can be better places for safety, livability, active travel, noise, pollution through behaviour change. And that takes place through debate, engagement, community media and the democratic process. That debate also triggers other initiatives for sharing and safety and how we use those public spaces. What you cannot therefore do is isolate communities and deny them the change that they want, and that their elected representatives are required to respond to.

You simply cannot manipulate community aspirations to that extent. When communities see other places getting lower speed limits and that change, then they want it as well and will reject any calls for them to be an experiment in keeping prevailing vehicle speeds higher than is expected elsewhere. The world is real and not a laboratory. Communities have voices and choices and elected representatives to carry them out.
Rod King, Cheshire 20's Plenty for Us

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-2

I'm surprised, Rod. Portsmouth's 20mph trial covered the entire city centre (except for the 1 main road), a total of over 250 miles of roads. If that is not still the largest 20mph area then which areas have more than 250 miles of roads, all of them 20mph?

Portsmouth were very reluctant to publish collision data for their 20mph roads after two years, but I have seen them and they are quite shocking.

Running scientific trials is easy, especially if the trial area is the whole of Scotland! Select some areas, perhaps whole towns or cities. Pair them up and implement 20mph in 1 of each pair selected at random. Continue across the whole of Scotland.

The results would be proof beyond a reasonable doubt and the confusion over 20mph would be over. Surely, when lives are at stake, don't we need to base policies on proper evidence?
Dave Finney, Slough

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+1

Eric
I was answering Dave's particular question and simply referenced a Local Authority of quite a large area which was saying that it had seen the reduction he was asking about.
If you are looking as to why they compared 36 months previous to 15 months after then maybe it's because only 15 months had elapsed. Do you seriously expect them not to look at any results for a further 21 months? Those who read the whole report would have seen that it is a story about councillors taking their responsibilities very seriously and the media also campaigning for what is right and fair.

And that's the same decision as the councillors and officers are taking in so many towns and cities across the country. And in Edinburgh’s case one which was only made after conducting a thorough pilot.

In view of the latest guidance from DfT and the acknowledgment from so many organisations and communities that 20mph is the right speed limit for residential streets then the only limit that now appears to be controversial is the blanket 30mph limit set in 1934.
Rod King, Cheshire 20's Plenty for Us

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-3

Rod King's reference to the newspaper report on "one of the largest [20mph] implementations in Lancashire" is a perfect illustration of selective and grossly misleading reporting. For example, it quotes falls in KSI for under 15s. Commendable, but what about those 15 and over?

Later the report compares "The three years before the zone was introduced saw 33 injuries - 31 slight and two serious – and the 15 months afterwards had just five slight and no serious. 36 months before versus 15 months after - what sort of comparison is that?
What account has been made of regression to the mean? Have the results been adjusted for reduced traffic volume? How do the results compare to the rest of Lancashire, and the UK?

The source of these quoted selected statistics and "reports of success" is the councillors behind the policy. Where is the independence?
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

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-3

I am sorry Dave but you are just plain wrong with your facts. Portsmouth may have been the first but it is not the largest 20mph implementation. The increase in SI in the two years after implementation for the roads changed from 20 to 30 mph went from 19 to 20 and was not statistically significant. No figures have been published for those same roads in subsequent years, only for all 20mph roads including the ones which were 20mph before implementation.

Here is a link to results quoted for one of the largest 20mph implementations in Lancashire. http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/10537770.Trial_of_20mph_zones_in_Lancashire__shows_policy_is_working_/

Your quest for "scientific" trials is very easy to make but very difficult to implement and, even more importantly, analyse with any confidence. I would be pleased for you to detail exactly how you would wish these to be done.
Rod King - 20's Plenty for Us, Cheshire

Agree (12) | Disagree (11)
+1

The largest 20mph experiment in Britain so far is in Portsmouth. After speed limits were lowered from 30mph to 20mph there was a rise in serious injury rates and not just in the 1st or 2nd years, in the 3rd, 4th and 5th as well.

Here in Slough, there are many 20mph roads but the largest 20mph area is, I believe, Manor Pk (North, South and central) and there were higher serious injury rates after the speed limit was reduced to 20mph here as well.

There must be many 20mph areas in Britain now so has any large area seen lower serious injury rates after 20mph was implemented?

I do not object to 20mph, I simply want the authorities to be competent and honest when they implement them by running simple scientific trials. Is that too much to ask?
Dave Finney, Slough

Agree (15) | Disagree (13)
+2

And here is the article on Edinburgh becoming Scotland's first 20mph city.

http://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/transport/edinburgh-to-be-first-20mph-city-to-boost-cycling-1-3057155
Rod King, Cheshire 20's Plenty for Us

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0

Dave:
You are repeating the allegation that "20mph appears to have increased serious injuries where it has been tried in England". You talk a lot about the need for evidence, but where is your evidence that 20mph limits "cause" increases in serious injuries.
Rod King, Cheshire 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (15) | Disagree (11)
+4

Last year we put together a briefing sheet on how the Scottish Guidance dates back to 2001 and lags behind that from the DfT. See http://www.20splentyforus.org.uk/BriefingSheets/20mphGuidanceAnomoliesInScotland.pdf

And, in January of this year the DfT updated its guidance even further to support wider and easier implementation of wide-area 20mph limits.

We understand that the results of the large 20mph pilot in Edinburgh, which was outside Scottish guidance and needed approval from Transport Scotland, will be key in helping to define the expected new guidance for Scotland.
Rod King, Cheshire 20's Plenty for Us

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-3

I notice that, even before knowing the full results of their trial, they are already talking of “Edinburgh’s success”! Why is there this absolute belief of improvements, accompanied by misrepresentation of the available evidence and an absolute refusal to run scientific trials?

Are they seriously suggesting that an accurate assessment can be made from only 25 miles of roads? And are they seriously contemplating spending multiple £millions of tax-payers money across Scotland based on those 25 miles? And without noticing that 20mph appears to have increased serious injuries where it has been tried in England? And without any scientific trials?

Lives are at stake therefore we need to run scientific trials. We need to find out the truth.
Dave Finney, Slough

Agree (10) | Disagree (15)
-5