An evaluation of 20mph zones in Manchester has recommended that the City Council should for the time being focus on alternative road safety schemes because the zones have had little positive effect on speed, collisions and casualties.
The Daily Mail says that as a result of the evaluation, Manchester City Council is going to ‘scrap’ the 20mph scheme because it ‘makes no difference to speed or accidents’.
However, cllr Rosa Battle, executive member for the environment, says the council ‘will continue to support 20mph zones’.
Presented to the City Council’s Executive yesterday (8 March), the evaluation found that the 20mph zones have only led to an average speed reduction of 0.7mph, and the ‘amount of accidents experienced in 20mph zones has not fallen as quickly as initially hoped’.
The report also reveals that the number of cyclists and pedestrians casualties in three 20mph zones (Gorton, Miles Platting and Newton Heath, and Moss Side and Fallowfield) have fallen by less than the city’s average.
The report recommends that while more evidence is gathered, the further £687,000 in grant funding which is currently available to the council for road safety purposes, could be used to pay for alternative schemes, such as new traffic calming measures, pedestrian crossings and measures to improve safety around the city’s schools.
In the meantime, it suggests that ‘work is undertaken to better understand the full benefits of creating further 20mph zones’.
First announced in 2012, 20mph zones have been introduced on more than 1,000 roads and at 138 schools across the city. According to the Daily Mail, £1m has been spent implementing the zones.
Cllr Rosa Battle said: “It’s great to know that the amount of pedestrians and cyclists involved in collisions has fallen considerably in the last two years in Manchester and we will continue to support 20mph zones, as part of our efforts to bring those numbers down even more.
"Now it’s important that we fully understand how effective these zones have been in terms of reducing accidents so far – and determine whether we can also invest in complementary road safety schemes, to further reduce accidents on the city’s roads.”
Rod King, founder of the campaign group 20’s Plenty for Us, said: “It is entirely correct for Manchester City Council to review the results from the first phases of their 20mph roll-out.
"With the first phase of the rollout including 20% of the city’s roads but less than 5% of the city’s pedestrian and cycle casualties there was already a very different profile of casualties even before the 20mph limit was implemented. And with before casualties in three areas being 12, eight and eight then there is little statistical significance in such low numbers reducing to 10, seven and seven.
"Despite the Daily Mail headline the City Council has endorsed the completion of the second phase and merely allowed the director of highways greater flexibility in whether funding previously exclusively allocated to 20mph limits can also be used for complementary road safety measures. It will also be looking to implement more community engagement, including Speedwatch.
"So, get beyond the hype and you will find that Manchester City Council is continuing its plans to make its roads better places for all to use and that 20mph streets are core to those plans.”
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Edmund King, president of the AA, said 20mph zones ‘do work’ but that widespread restrictions ‘inspire little respect’ from motorists.
He said: “It has long been recognised by government that speed limits should reflect the nature of the road and be ‘evidence-led and self-explaining’. For many drivers, 20mph speed limits, particularly on main roads, are not.
“The AA would like to see more signage to explain why a 20mph speed limit is in force, such as outside a school, hospital or pedestrian area, instead of the blanket approach which inspires little respect.”