Road Safety News
 

Trial results represent ‘conclusive yes’ for 20mph: 20’s Plenty for Us

Wednesday 24th September 2014

A trial of 20mph limits in Edinburgh resulted in improved perceptions of safety, and cycling and walking levels increased, according to the campaign group 20’s Plenty for Us.

20’s Plenty also says that the number of children cycling to school trebled, and parental permission for outside play doubled, as a result of South Central Edinburgh’s 20mph limit trial.

The campaign group says the results represent a ‘conclusive yes’ to community wide 20mph limits.

The post-trial report shows support for 20mph rose from 68% before to 79% after, and the number who considered cycling to be unsafe fell from 26% to 18%. The number of children cycling to school rose from 4% to 12%, and the percentage of children allowed to play on the pavement or street rose from 31% to 66%. On average, vehicle speeds fell by 1.9mph.

The report concludes: “Collectively, these conditions offer the ingredients to create ‘liveable’ streets, and help encourage behaviour change through increased active travel in the longer-term.”

Rod King MBE, founder of 20’s Plenty for Us, said: “Edinburgh’s results prove again how wide-area 20mph limits can civilise streets and win popular endorsement. Residents feel the benefits.

“Councillors and public health directors can be confident that 20mph limits are evidenced as the right way forward for our public realm.”

 

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If I read this right, the reduction of speed limits from 30 or even 40 to 20, resulted in an actual speed reduction of less than 2 mph. This suggests to me that the vast majority of drivers are treating these absurdly low limits with the contempt they deserve.

If as you claim, the public widely support these 20mph limits why are they having such little impact on vehicle speeds. 20 mph limits in specific high risk areas like outside schools makes sense, but reducing general traffic speeds to those of the beginning of the previous century is just absurd.
Peter Cook Leeds

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0

It may be an ABD perspective, Rod, but I am a driver as well and 20mph is NOT plenty 24/7 x 365 days of the year. Residents are notoriously bad at estimating speeds, most would say they live on a "racetrack" but when proper checks are done, this just turns out to be a another urban myth.

Are you saying that Edinburgh has already gathered three year 'before' emission statistics? Sorry, but reverting back to a speed limit first introduced in 1903, is just mindless obedience for the sake of it.

All drivers are pedestrians, but not all pedestrians are drivers, but 99.9per cent will be passengers at one time and I doubt if they want to do their journey at 20 mph. Who likes being stuck behind a 20mph farm tractor?

We are totally obsessed with speed limits and it is about time we concentrated on educating drivers to drive to prevailing conditions and for all road users to think about their actions.
Terry Hudson, Kent

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+5

Terry
I am sorry, but your ABD perspective on this is flawed.

1) These were not claims but measured results by Edinburgh City Council.
2) Where average speeds reduce then there will be a spectrum of changes. Whilst low prevailing speed roads will hardly change (if at all), faster roads have been found to reduce more than the average. On these they certainly have been noticed by respondents to the survey.
3) 3 year before and after statistics cannot be compiled until 3 years after.
4) Your focus on emissions is a red herring as there is plenty of evidence that it is acceleration and not steady-state speed that is the determinator of fuel consumption and emissions in an urban environment.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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-5

Well, some fantastic claims when the average actual vehicle speeds fell by only 1.9mph!
The people of Edinburgh must be excellent judges of speed to have noticed the difference and all rushed out to buy bikes and push their kids into the middle of the road to play.
If 20mph is so popular, why do I not find more drivers voluntarily driving at these speeds? After all, they live on residential streets, it cannot be because they are driving at a speed applicable to prevailing conditions rather than mindless drones?
Could not see any results of the standard three year before/after statistics on emission levels? Or any data on increased journey times or congestion?
Terry hudson, Kent

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Hugh (and others):
As far as I know the Highways Act 1980 isn't valid in Scotland, including Edinburgh which this report was about. The Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 covers some of the same measures, but doesn't outlaw playing on the road.

Looking ahead, the latest version that I've seen of the proposed 2015 Traffic Signs Regs still includes a sign for "Play Streets" which shows where vehicles are banned to prevent annoyance and danger to other users of the street.
David S.

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+3

Rod:
Children standing around on the footway 'socialising' is not necessarily a problem but when they are on their bikes they become unpredictable and a danger to themselves. Urban speed limits do reflect the character of residential and built-up areas and some degree of 'reasonable use of the highway' may come into it, but I don't believe that children playing in the road should be taken into account - that's what playgrounds, parks, open spaces and private gardens are for.

As I've said, I'm all for reducing speeds but let's not create more hazards by doing so, otherwise it's one step forward and two steps back.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+2

Rod
Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit. There is nothing wrong with my IT skills. I steer clear of your website because of the utterly misleading content to be found there.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

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-5

Hugh
Regarding "socialising children" being hazards. In such a case shouldn't such hazards be taken into account when local authorities set speed limits?
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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-1

Hugh

On the subject of football. Actually, I never mentioned football. I was thinking of "play" in its loosest form. But whilst you have brought it up and referred to the Highways Act, I did look it up and found Section 161 para 3:

"If a person plays at football or any other game on a highway to the annoyance of a user of the highway he is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding [F3level 1 on the standard scale]."

Hence I can understand the police officer's comment because in order for it to be an offence there appears to be a requirement for an "annoyance to a user of the highway".

I am sure that we can both agree that "annoyance" may be quite a subjective.

Game appears to be defined as:

1) A form of competitive activity or sport played according to rules.
or
2) An activity that one engages in for amusement:

So it would appear that this covers any form of amusement on the highway that may be an annoyance to another road user.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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Eric and Idris

Obviously you have not read our press release. My apologies. I appear to have over-estimated your IT skills.

Our press release, like all our releases and briefing sheets, provides details of reports or web pages we quote from. We do this because we think it far more effective to quote what other recognised bodies such as local authorities or research institutes have reported.

There are two ways to find our press release:

1) Try googling 20mph edinburgh 20's plenty for us. I think you will find our press release is at the top of the list

or

2) Look to the top of this page and you will see the words "20's Plenty for Us" in red letters. If you click on this then you will open our press release.

I trust that this helps.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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-1

Idris
It's an offence under legislation not to have a MOT certificate whilst using a vehicle on a road but it's not a criminal offence or crime. That would be, say, altering or stealing the MOT a crime. Same would happen with a tax disc if that had been used fraudulently, a crime, but not having one or failing to display one only an offence.... no power of arrest is the answer. Where a power of arrest exists in law it becomes a crime. Where legislation makes it an offence without powers of arrest.... not classified as a crime.
bob craven Lancs

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Rod and Idris:
For information, Section 161 Highways Act 1980 covers the playing of football on the highway (and other nuisances). It's a long time since I dealt with this sort of thing, but as far as I know it is still valid.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+4

Although Eric asked Rod for a link to the report he failed to provide one, nor can I find any such link anywhere in this item.

Rod - please provide that link, and while you are at it, please explain why your "news" item refers to a report apparently more than a year old.

I should also add that I agree with Hugh's points, that encouraging children to play in roads carrying vehicle traffic cannot be a good idea, and that I am puzzled by how, as the police officer apparently said, that anything can be unlawful but not a criminal offence!
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

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-1

Rod
The problem with your press releases is that they focus on subjects such as children playing in the road, levels of public support (from an ill-informed and misled public) and rarely (if ever) address measured effects on casualties. I'm interested in road safety, not your latest utopian vision of the "urban realm" or other such jargon.

And, in any case, the press relase that triggered this RSGB item has been exposed as pure news creation based on an Edinburgh report from over a year ago, a report which ducked the issue of casualty numbers in the 20mph area in favour of wishful thinking about the future.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

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-3

Postscript Rod:
I've had a chance to look at the video you mentioned and the behaviour of the children on their bikes in residential roads (like mine) is typical i.e. unpredictable and not particularly safety aware - socialising on bikes you might call it. It may seem innocent enough but it is still a hazard and I agree, is one of the reasons why speeds do need to be lower in these type of roads. However, my issue is that wherever speeds are succesfully reduced, it will create a false sense of security and safety and may lead to more 'carefree' cycling and 'playing' in the road, however one may define this.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+6

Don't entirely agree Rod.

The highway is primarily for 'passing and re-passing' (an antiquated expression perhaps but still valid) with 'reasonable use' being acknowledged as well, but not to the extent that it interferes with its primary purpose as a highway i.e creating a hazard and nuisance.

I'm all for lower speeds in our residential areas however that may be achieved, but don't go along with the notion of 'reclaiming the streets' - they're for everyone and always were, they just need to be used sensibly and that usually means wheeled vehicles on the c/way and peds on the f/ways. Let's not mix the two.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+4

Eric
Your question implies that your previous comment was made without having had sight of our press release or the referenced report.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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+4

Hugh
Rather than being an expectation from residents that the streets would be safer from an "anticipated" reduction in speed limit, these were the results before and after their "experience" of the 20mph limit on the streets where they lived.

I believe this is a debate about how we value the urban realm. For years we seem to have been reducing not danger but exposure. Our attitude seems to have been "keep children out of harm's way" rather than "keep harm out of children's way". That has created the "illusion" of safer streets as we have depressed walking and cycling for children and adults. And as we empty streets of children "playing" and adults walking and cycling then we fuel the idea that streets are for "drivers" rather than "people".

The whole 20's Plenty movement catalyses the debate about our urban realm is not through "traffic engineering" but "social engagement". People are beginning to win their streets back as people rather than just drivers. And as this report shows that "they rather like it".
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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-2

Rod
Please post a link to the report you claim to be quoting. I can find no recent Edinburgh 20mph reports.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

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-3

Rod:
Playing in the street conjures up a picture of children (usually!) venturing into the c/way haphazardly and randomly (often from between parked vehicles) where traffic may be present and therefore the risk of collision is high.

It is very naive, foolish and irresponsible for any parent to think that because the posted speed limit in their road has been lowered by 10mph, an actual reduction in traffic speeds will be guaranteed and that the road will therefore be proportionally safer to play in - it won't! I'm afraid the risk will not go away.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+7

Eric
The report which we quoted did mention both the issue of traffic volumes and casualties. So it is incorrect to say that they were not mentioned.

Our press release was highlighting some of the main findings that we felt were new. However, for the record I would confirm that the Edinburgh report stated:

"Authorisation will offer the Council the flexibility to continue its 20mph programme, with the application of 20mph speed limits to streets in Edinburgh primarily serving as a means of improving liveability and encouraging more active travel, while contributing to reductions in road collisions and casualties. 20mph limit implementation offers a more time and cost-effective approach, relative to the traditional reliance on 20mph zones with physical traffic calming measures."
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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+1

Hugh
I think it all depends on the street and the play. But I understand that this issue has come up before. See this BBC report where police in Surrey sent a flyer out saying that "it was a criminal offence to play sport in the street". This was later retracted with an apology by the police officer concerned who confirmed:

"playing games such as football on the highway may be unlawful in some circumstances; however this would not in any way be criminal behaviour."

See the article at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-surrey-24404138

Clearly the Council In Edinburgh were using this question on children playing on the street as a way to judge community reaction to the changing speed limits and all the engagement going on alongside those speed limit changes.

You may wish to have a look at this 2010 video made by Street Films of New York. When they were filming in Warrington's 20mph pilot they came across 3 children on bikes just cycling around, chatting and enjoying. To the children they were "playing". Are we really trying to limit such behaviour? see: http://vimeo.com/14549963

Note that in the notes to the video they said that 3m people lived in places with a 20mph policy for residential limits. I am pleased that 4 years later this is now 13.5m.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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0

Revealing, isn't it, that there is no mention of effects on casualties or traffic flow.
You can be sure that if they could claim that 20mph had contributed to reduced casualties, they would be shouting about it. But they haven't so we should assume that road safety has actually been made worse by this scheme.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

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-7

Rod:
I'm a bit surprised by your response. "Play on the streets"? Nobody should be 'playing' on the street. As an example, playing football on the street, is quite rightly an offence anyway and an organisation should not be promoting lower speeds to facilitate activities which are going to be risky to children as well as causing a nuisance to others.

As far as keeping children "off the streets", I presume you meant the c/way and not the f/way where they should be - out of harm's way.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+5

Bob
It wasn't our survey or report, but that of Edinburgh City Council. If your perceptions are different then maybe you should look to what they are doing in Edinburgh which may be an example of better practice. Maybe its better engagement, better marketing, better policing, better creativity.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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+2

Hugh
Are you suggesting that the key to road danger reduction is to keep children off the streets? And would this imply that the only people allowed to "play" on those public spaces between houses that we do call streets were adults with steel overcoats.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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+2

"... the percentage of children allowed to play on the pavement or street rose from 31% to 66%. On average, vehicle speeds fell by 1.9mph." I know I'm repeating myself but this is not something to rejoice. The risk seems to have increased.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+7

Nothing new in this report from the 20 is plenty campaign group and just what one might expect. There has been a 20 limit on some roads in Blackpool for over a year now I can identify them to this organisation if they so wish. They can do a similar survey there. The results will be far from those found in Edinburgh. Far far different. If they want to contact me for the locations of these streets please do so through the site management I will gladly give them these details. Perception is one thing but it's totally unscientific.
bob craven Lancs

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+4

"...and parental permission for outside play doubled,..." Oh dear. So potentially more exposure to risk to children from traffic then?

The highway is not for playing on and can create nuisance for other road users and residents and should definitely not be cited as a goal or 'benefit' of lower speeds in residential areas.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+1

If these results are accurate then it would seem an endorsement of the "twenty's plenty" campaign. I would have to question however whether carrying out a "before" study in December and January and an "after" study in February and March about outdoor activity in Scotland could potentially distort results.

The report reviewing the scheme http://www.spokes.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/1308-27-Item_7.3___South_Central_Edinburgh_20mph_Limit_Pilot_Evaluation.pdf avoids the subject of casualties which don't appear to have changed in the 21 months since implementation. Not surprising really because they are mostly on the roads which remain 30mph. Has a barely perceptible change in speed at most places in the study area really changed attitudes this much? Or is it the placebo effect of the appearance of doing something, combined with an enforcement presence on the street. I remain sceptical.
Tim Philpot, Wolverhampton

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+9