Stakeholders disagree over BaNES’ 20mph scheme

17.13 | 18 December | | 13 comments


While various media reports suggest a 20mph scheme in Bath & North East Somerset has led to a rise in deaths and serious injuries, 20s Plenty for Us says the data produced by the council is ‘so compromised that it would not be reasonable…to make any decisions based on the report’.

The Telegraph says Bath & North East Somerset (BaNES) Council spent £870,000 introducing the zones 12 months ago, and is now ‘refusing to reverse the scheme because it will cost too much’.

The Telegraph says that since the 20mph zones were introduced the number of people killed and seriously injured has gone up in seven of the 13 zones covered by the scheme.

The local Bath Chronicle says the council report refers to ‘a national trend’ which ‘suggests local people are less diligent when walking and crossing roads within the (20mph) zones because they think they are safer’.

Talking to the Bath Chronicle, councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones, deputy leader of BaNES Council, said: “There are some roads where it still might be a good idea to have 20mph zones, for example around schools and vulnerable residential areas.

“But in other areas there is no evidence that the 20mph limits have made a difference to the statistics.

“However we are in a relatively early stage still and need more information to be able to make a better judgement about this. After all we’re talking about three years of information and ideally you really need twice that.”

Commenting on BaNES Council report, the campaign group 20s Plenty for Us said: “Whilst we believe that assessing the results of 20mph limits is important in order to better implement on going schemes and formulate local authority policy, this must be done in a reasonable, balanced and objective manner.

“20’s Plenty for Us refutes the findings and conclusions in the (BaNES) report and advises members that the report is so compromised that it would not be reasonable for them to make any decisions based on the report.”

20s Plenty for Us goes on to describe the report as ‘biased, lacking in statistical rigour and not meeting several local authority duties on competency and equality’.

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    It is a shame that a lot is mentioned about the report itself but no mention appears to have been made of the conclusion that the scrutiny panel came to. The scrutiny panel view as mentioned on page 9 of the report is essentially to continue a watching brief on the existing 20s schemes and to consider specific new 20s on their merits where appropriate. I take ‘specific’ in this context to mean no new wide-area 20s for now. That to me seems a fair decision on both fronts.


    Pat, Wales
    Agree (5) | Disagree (0)
    +5

    What a lost opportunity! It is a shame that the Council, and road safety professionals have chosen to start the year with another destructive binary argument. It is entirely possible that the ksi’s have changed either by anomaly or because both vehicle drivers and vulnerable road users have different expectations in this transition period.

    Changing our streets cannot be done against a status quo of user skills and behaviours. Vulnerable users can reasonably expect that vehicle drivers will behave with more compassion, however they have to learn to assert that right and to be vigilant as drivers will continue to expect to have dominance. Similarly vehicle drivers will take time to learn that priorities have changed.

    This is a good opportunity to ask all modes and residents what they want from their streets and to push on with a considerate road user education programme.

    Benefits of 20 are principally argued by long-term reduction of ksi’s but these are only sustained by improving awareness and consideration and a more collaborative approach between users.

    Thanks for reading this.


    Peter Treadgold, Ealing
    Agree (4) | Disagree (2)
    +2

    It appears that some members of the council don’t agree with some others within the same council. This embodies the freedom of opinions and is what politics and democracy in this country is all about. What is called into doubt or question is possibly the continuance of the adoption of the scheme and its understandable that some of the supporting organisations including the scheme organisers to become worried. What they don’t want is one failure in this or any other case. It’s obviously benefitial to them and their supporters to have doubts about the credibility of this report and further to call into question that it may also show badly upon the Council itself. It would certainly benefit their designs, strategy and interests to have this report quashed or the Council or its members to be held in disrepute.

    What if the report is right and justifiable in that there are problems and that there should be questions in some Councilors’ minds, and that may lead to an absolute doubt about the further adoption of the scheme. To have one Council come to a conclusion that is not in line with the campaign organisers would be a first blow but maybe the start of many such. Therefore it would be in their interest to cast doubt about the veracity of the report and the way it would be interpreted in the minds of the public. Further that bad decisions may have been made in the past. That it doesn’t work and that its not giving the results that were promised and that may lead to accountability problems.


    bob craven
    Agree (6) | Disagree (8)
    --2

    In a later development Bath Chronicle writes an article claiming that when the council scrutiny panel reviewed the 20mph report in July ““There wasn’t a single councillor on that panel who thought it was a good report, so why is it still being issued?”

    Campaign groups are asking for the report to be “withdrawn so as not to bring the council into further disrepute”

    See http://www.bathchronicle.co.uk/news/bath-news/cycle-bath-call-bath-north-953246


    Rod King, Warrington
    Agree (5) | Disagree (4)
    +1

    Hugh (Jones)

    We agree. KSIs are usually low in number and if you were to dissagregate the data to both understand the cause and to exclude the ones which were not influenced by the speed of the vehicle then the numbers become even smaller. Whilst we are aware that KSIs are used as targets, and it is quite correct to seek their minimisation, using them as a guide to influence road danger reduction initiatives may be flawed due their statistical insignificance at town or area level.


    Rod King
    Agree (4) | Disagree (3)
    +1

    (From a different Hugh) It might be a good idea to actually examine the individual collisions – before and after – and see whether they would have happened anyway, regardless of the speed limit. In this context, percentage changes are not in themselves meaningful.

    If a vehicle’s too high a speed was relevant in any of the cases (quite likely) that is the driver’s fault and not the authority’s for trying to manage speeds.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire


    Hugh Jones
    Agree (4) | Disagree (1)
    +3

    @Bob Craven, you say there is “no absolute evidence from over 10 years of implemented schemes” is this a conclusion you have drawn after looking for such evidence on DfT websites etc or is it just based on what has appeared in newspapers?

    @Charles, you ask why one can conclude that the 20mph in Bath has reduced speeds and casualties overall but not conclude that they have caused the increase in casualties that have occurred in some places? The answer is a statistics thing: there are more measurements in the first category and very few in the second. You need a lot of different measurements to be sure that random variations are not causing the change.


    Hugh
    Agree (2) | Disagree (2)
    0

    These are the statistics:
    The Bath crashes reduced by 28%
    The Bath casualties reduced by 23%
    The number of roads where the ave speed was equal or above 24mph reduced by 42%
    The number of roads where the ave speed was equal or above 26mph reduced by 78%

    That was recognised by the Scrutiny Committee which took note of the original report but took no action.

    My understanding of the basis of the allegation from the new Conservative administration is that there are more 20mph areas that have seen an increase in number of accidents than there are with a decrease. However on a very low number eg an increase from none to one (100% increase!)the only way this can be consistent with an overall reduction would be if there had been a slight increase in the rural areas but a very big decrease in the urban areas that have become 20mph. If that is the case the question should what is going on in the areas with an increase, not a challenge to the overall concept. Of course the most fundamental issue is the general lack of support from the police, who tend to focus and speed monitoring on areas where fatalities occur with higher speeds such as on motorways and trunk roads.


    Andy Dag
    Agree (4) | Disagree (1)
    +3

    Charles. If you need to ask that question then you haven’t read the report or our critique of it.


    Rod King
    Agree (5) | Disagree (5)
    0

    Rod, what leads you to think that the new 20mph speed limits were responsible for the reduced number of crashes and casualties in Bath or the reductions in average speeds, where they occurred, but *not* for the increased number of fatalities and serious injuries or the increases in average speeds, where they occurred? That sounds like a blatant cherry-picking and filtering of results to suit your agenda.


    Charles
    Agree (8) | Disagree (4)
    +4

    Bob. I hope that I am correct to assume you have read the reports and articles from the links. If you had you would have found out that after implementing 20mph limits:-

    The Bath crashes reduced by 28%
    The Bath casualties reduced by 23%
    The number of roads where the ave speed was equal or above 24mph reduced by 42%
    The number of roads where the ave speed was equal or above 26mph reduced by 78%

    Now I think these are quite positive outcomes. And that was recognised by the Scrutiny Committee which took note of the original report but took no action.

    So Bath’s 20mph limits are a success and this is borne out by the views of pedestrians and cyclists who use Bath’s 20mph streets. It is also shared by the many organisations such as WHO who say that 20mph or 30kmh is the correct speed limit where people mix with vehicles.

    Guzzi. I am not sure. We posted an article on our blog back in May about the Banes report. This has only reached a wider audience because of the media frenzy at the false statement that “20mph limits increase fatalities”. Media seem to be all too willing to repeat what they perceive as an “interesting” story without checking whether it is actually true. Hence our reference to Freddie Star Ate my Hamster! I guess the motto is “If you want to keep up to date with 20mph limits then follow http://www.20splenty.org

    Merry Christmas


    Rod King
    Agree (5) | Disagree (5)
    0

    I’m wondering why it has taken 6 months for the report, issued in May and reviewed by Council in July, to reach a wider audience?


    Guzzi
    Agree (2) | Disagree (1)
    +1

    Sounds a bit like the 20 is plenty scheme is having to defend itself and doesn’t like it. May I ask where was the actual factual and undisputed evidence that persuaded this council that this scheme would in fact reduce injuries or indeed collisons or other incidents. Nowhere. It’s based on conjecture, speculation and supposition. How can the 20 is plenty scheme have the gall to criticise this or any council and say that it doesn’t seem competent enough to make any adverse comments. Particularly about a scheme that they adopted as a result of the 20 is plenty’s own emotional publicity. And let’s face it, at great cost to the public purse at a time of great austerity.

    Manchester recently spoke out in negative terms and they didnt like that. However, with no absolute evidence from over 10 years of implemented schemes I feel that shortly there will be a backlash of discontent from Councils who have spent their monies and not seen the desired results that were perhaps promosed or anticipated by the organisers of the 20 is plenty scheme.


    Bob Craven, Lancs
    Agree (6) | Disagree (2)
    +4