Cambridge 20 Mph Out To Consultation With Cross Party Support

steady17:07 Monday 13th May 2013
Drive BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

CHRIS MANN: Proposals to introduce a 20mph speed limit on Cambridgeshire’s residential streets go out to consultation today. Supporters say it will improve safety on the city’s streets, but there are concerns about who will pay for any engineering work, and whether it will be enforced by police. Amanda Taylor is the new Liberal Democrat County Councillor for the Queen Ediths area, where the 20mph speed limit has already been trialled. (TAPE)
AMANDA TAYLOR: I think it’s important that roads are safe to use, and I would favour a lower speed limit. What the LibDems on the City Council are proposing is 20mph on residential streets. That wouldn’t include the big trunk roads, such as the Ring Road, but it would be residential streets, which is safer for pedestrians as well as cyclists, and probably of some benefit to motorists as well. (LIVE)
CHRIS MANN: We’ll be hearing from the RAC Foundation live in a moment, also from Tim Ward, the LibDem behind the scheme, and the Leader of the Labour Group, Lewis Herbert. But first of all what do the people of Cambridge think at the moment? Our reporter Anisa Kadri has been on the streets to find out if they think it will make a difference. (TAPE)
PUBLIC ONE: Yes I think it would. Because I think sometimes they go absolutely crazy. Whether it’s 20 or 30 mph, some people just don’t seem to realise that there are pedestrians, there are an awful lot of children, schools in this area, and they just zoom by.
PUBLIC TWO: It wouldn’t bother me in the slightest.
ANISA KADRI: Would you stick to the speed limit?
PUBLIC TWO: Yes. In built up areas, especially where you’ve got shops, schools et cetera nearby, I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t.
ANISA KADRI: You think it’s the right thing to do.
PUBLIC TWO: Yes. I do.
ANISA KADRI: Hello there. I just saw you parked your bicycle.
ANISA KADRI: So as a cyclist, would that make you feel a lot better, having a 20mph speed limit for the cars in the area?
PUBLIC THREE: No I don’t think so. I don’t really. No. I don’t think the speed limit would have any major effect. I think I’m more likely to suffer from fellow cyclists who behave inappropriately, or pedestrians than motorists. I don’t drive, so I don’t really know what it’s like to drive around Cambridge either.
ANISA KADRI: But seeing the cars go past at 30mph, 40mph ..
PUBLIC THREE: It doesn’t worry me because I’m OK on my bike, a pretty confident cyclist. As long as people are obeying the rules, then it shouldn’t be a problem. I know there’s a concern with obviously the speed limit, and if you are knocked over, the damage that’s going to be done to you obviously increases the greater the speed..
ANISA KADRI: I see you’re a young mum there, with a little kid. Do you drive as well?
PUBLIC FOUR: I do, and I’m much more aware now I’ve got the baby, about driving, parking and being aware of other people.
ANISA KADRI: Would you stick to the 20mph speed limit.
PUBLIC FOUR: I think so. I think if you know there’s a reason, there’s a school, there’s people around, then there’s an added incentive to.
ANISA KADRI: What about other people?
PUBLIC FOUR: Yes. Not so sure whether they’d be quite as aware of that I think having young children does make you more aware. (LIVE)
CHRIS MANN: Anisa Kadri on the streets of Cambridge today on the idea of a 20mph speed right across the city on residential streets. I’ll get a scientific view in just a moment or two, and the reponse of the Labour opposition group Leader, but first of all Councillor Tim Ward is the man behind the idea. Tim, hello to you.
TIM WARD: Hi Chris.
CHRIS MANN: Now you’ve spoken at a national level I know over the last year or two, several times proposing this. Cambridge is ahead of other places with this idea. Why do you think it’s necessary?
TIM WARD: What people have been asking for as you look around Cambridge, you’ll see that there are a number of 20mph zones and limits already, which are there as a result of campaigns by local people. And there are plenty more such campaigns in the works at the moment. And it seemed to me that it would be a lot simpler and cheaper if we wrapped up the whole of the city in one go, except we’re doing it in four quarters for practical reasons.
CHRIS MANN: Who’s going to enforce it?
TIM WARD: Well the police will, in due course, take any action that turns out to be necessary, where there is repeated and flagrant breaches of the new rules.
CHRIS MANN: Do you think the trials so far have been a success?
TIM WARD: We’ve had mixed results in different parts of town at the moment for various reasons. And some of which have been at complicated junctions where there are some roads at 30mph and some 20mph, people don’t necessarily notice that they’ve driven into a 20 street. I’ve done that myself.
CHRIS MANN: Me too. There has been confusion amongst drivers.
TIM WARD: That’s right.
CHRIS MANN: Lewis Herbert for the Labour group, what do you think?
LEWIS HERBERT: Well we support the consultation, and if people in Cambridge say yes, then we’ll be very happy to implement it. We don’t think enforcement by itself is going to be enough though, and that’s some of the message the police have been saying. We know that there are big problems of speeding, but we think that culturally this will change them, provided that it’s accompanied by significant education, clear signing, and that we get some engineering on the roads as well.
CHRIS MANN: Is that the so-called traffic calming, where you narrow things down, and you put more signs up, and so o?
LEWIS HERBERT: Well I think particularly near schools and key shopping streets. One of the unspoken issues here is that there will need to be some investment in re-engineering some of the roads, because some of the driver behaviour is infantile, and it may continue . I think what we broadly .. people may not stick to 20, but we definitely think that this, along with it happening in other cities, will be a culture change. And people don’t normally speed significantly over a speed limit, and you then get drivers who effectively stick to the speed limit, and they help regulate the whole system.
CHRIS MANN: So there we are. The two main political parties on Cambridge City Council in agreement on this one. More from those gentlemen in just a moment, but let’s bring in Elizabeth Box, who’s Head of Research at the RAC Foundation. Elizabeth, hello.
ELIZABETH BOX: Hello there.
CHRIS MANN: As I said, Cambridge is well ahead of other cities in looking at this, and actually having a trial. Does the reasearch prove the point, that it does save lives?
ELIZABETH BOX: Yes. The research definitely says that 20mph zones helps save lives. And it’s really interesting to see that Cambridgeshire are looking to introduce this. We’ve seen a number of other cities and urban areas starting to introduce it. I think the really salient point is that over 90% of all pedestrian child and cycling accidents actually happen on roads that are 40mph roads or less. We know that actually if you’re in a 20mph zone, if you’re hit by a car as you’re walking, you’ve got a one in forty chance of surviving. But if you’re actually hit at 30, as a pedestrian, you’ve only got a one in five chance of surviving. (sic) So the evidence really supports 20mph zones. Obviously the question is all around the practicalities and enforcement and actually how you do it in practical terms. But the research is definitely there to support it.
CHRIS MANN: As you may know Cambridge is the capital of cycling in the UK. Another reason to consider it. But do you just slap up signs Elizabeth, or do you have to do more than that?
ELIZABETH BOX: Well it would be very nice to be able to put signs up and hope everybody goes with it, but unfortunately that doesn’t tend to happen. What we find is that if you put signs up saying 20mph zone, you tend to get about a 1mph reduction in speed. And generally if you had speeds that were about 24mph on average, then you can just put up signs. If you’ve got higher speeds than that on average, you really need to start looking at doing other measures. So traffic calming might be needed. You also need more visible enforcement. So it really depends on the area. But I imagine the speeds in Cambridgeshire in many residential streets are quite low at the moment, so hopefully signage might do quite a bit.
CHRIS MANN: OK. Tim Ward, that sounds expensive, albeit in a good cause, the engineering work, the enforcement and so on. Are you prepared to back it up with some money?
TIM WARD: Well if you look at the map of speeds that were recorded in the North area over a couple of weeks in March, and these maps are available with the publicity material for this phase¬†of the scheme that’s been publicised from today onwards, you will see that most of the roads, the average speeds are 24mph or below anyway. So we don’t see that there will be a problem there. There are four or five roads in the North area that might be more difficult, and that we will have to consider more carefully. I can’t speak for the rest of the city, because we haven’t actually got the speed measurements on the rest of the city yet.
CHRIS MANN: OK. And how quickly, with this consultation on at the moment, how quickly could all this happen?
TIM WARD: The consultation opens today in the North area and finishes on 7th I think of July. And implementation at the end of the year, if, as Lewis says, if it’s what people want.
CHRIS MANN: Lewis Herbert, a lot of car drivers feel that they’re under attack as it is, and that it’s very difficult to get around Cambridge city. What would you say to them?
LEWIS HERBERT: Well I don’t think their problem is this. Their problem is massive congestion. And we need to rebalance the roads. We believe and share Tim’s view that if you make the roads better for pedestrians and cyclists, then it will be easier. I think one of the other questions that we also need to address is buses. We have got fairly negative feedback so far from Stagecoach, and we have to work out ways of ensuring that buses also keep to this speed limit. They can be just as hazardous to pedestrians or cyclists.
CHRIS MANN: Thank you all for joining us.