Pressure Mounts for 20MPH

07:19 Thursday 14th June 2012
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

ANDY GALL: Campaigners in Peterborough want more of the city to be turned into 20mph zones. According to the Twenty’s Plenty campaign, traffic flows more freely at 20mph than at 30. At the moment there are around fourteen 20mph zones in Peterborough, like Hampton, and nine 20mph stretches of road, most of which are near schools. Cambridge already has a number of 20mph areas, and there is talk of the whole city having a speed limit of 20mph. Earlier I spoke to Tim Ward, the councillor in charge of planning and sustainability for Cambridge City Council, and started by asking him how many zones there are in the city. (TAPE)
TIM WARD: In Cambridge we do have a number of small 20mph zones, which mostly came about because of campaigns by people living in the areas. We’ve got a lot more people wanting 20mph zones, and we’ve decided that it’s rather expensive to go about putting in lots of little zones in response to individual campaigns, so we’re looking at seeing how much of the city’s residential areas we want to do over the next couple of years as a single large project.
ANDY GALL: This is quite big then, certainly with regard to cities in the UK, to perhaps probably have a broad brush and say, look, 20mph across the city.
TIM WARD: Yes, that’s right. The first place to have done this is Portsmouth. I went down there and had a look at what they’ve done, and it does seem to work quite well there.
ANDY GALL: What are your concerns, if there are any concerns about this? Because you can say quite glibly, look, let’s go 20mph across the board. But what do you think could be the failings of this?
TIM WARD: There are going to be disagreements about exactly which roads should be in and out. Because we can’t make all the main roads and bits of dual carriageway and so on 20mph. That’s not appropriate. I think that’s the main problem. The other thing that people will tell you is the problem with the existing zones, is that there’s not terribly good compliance and enforcement in some cases. And that’s partly because there are lots of little zones all over the place, and designs are not all done the same way. And people get confused as to what the speed limits are. And we think that if it was a basic rule that if you’re in Cambridge in a residential street, then it’s 20, people will get used to it, and there’ll be much better compliance.
ANDY GALL: So it’s one of a condition thing, isn’t it? It’s like the more emphasis you place upon it, the more acceptance there will be.
TIM WARD: Yes, that’s right. And this again comes from the experience in Portsmouth. After a while people who live there just got used to the idea that if you’re in a residential street, it’s 20, and they just generally just obey mostly.
ANDY GALL: Of course the question is, has it made the streets safer in the areas where 20mph speed limits have been rolled out. Has it made it safer?
TIM WARD: I’m not sure that I’ve got any detailed figures off the top of my head for that. Certainly people feel safer, which is one of the main advantages. So even if there’s no change to the accident rate, if people feel safer, then there’s going to be more walking and more cycling, which has its own health benefits.
ANDY GALL: We contacted Peterborough City Council about the campaign, and they sent us this statement. It reads as follows: “City Council has implemented a number of 20mph speed limits, mainly targeted around schools. And proposal regarding a more widespread use of 20mph speed limits in residential areas would require detailed consideration, in particular, the need to achiave an appropriate balance between road safety and the ability of traffic to move efficiently around the highway networks.” The statement goes on to say that “Where 20mph limits are in place, local to schools, we have proactively worked to provide educational material and awareness training, to increase understanding and safety on the roads.

SAMANTHA APPLEBY: I’m joined by Fiona Radic, who’s the head of the Twenty’s Plenty campaign in Peterborough. .. How far would you like to see this 20mph limit extended to across Peterborough?
FIONA RADIC: Well Twenty’s Plenty campaign thinks that you should have 20mph limits on any residential road. Now that would embrace the entire city of Peterborough, inside and outside the parkways. And any village in the surrounding area which wished to go Twenty’s Plenty across the whole village would be very very welcome to join in.
SAMANTHA APPLEBY: This could be quite a costly exercise though. At the moment, Lancashire County Council are actually looking at bringing this in in Blackpool, and across the county. But that’s at a cost of £9 million to them. Would you support a blanket 20mph limit, even if it cost that much money?
FIONA RADIC: Well don’t forget we’re already spending money. We’re spending money on what’s called zonal 20, which is when you put a 20mph limit in a particular road, or outside particular school. And that has additional costs, because you have to have speed bumps, which personally I don’t like, and most car drivers don’t like. And that’s called physical calming. Now if you do it for the whole city, you can avoid that. So your costs are limited to signage, engaging with the community, and then it’s enforcement, which is I suppose a police role, principally. Now because Peterborough has the parkways, we could decide to have Twenty’s Plenty just inside the parkways, which would limit the signage costs. But I’m not sure how popular that would be immediately outside the parkways.
SAMANTHA APPLEBY: Well I imagine that before any of this was introduced, there would be an extensive consultation. Fiona Radic, thank you very much for joining me this morning.