Slow Down Cambridge

simon_garfunkel17:08 Friday 15th March 2013
Drive BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

CHRIS MANN: Speed limits on some of North Cambridge’s busiest roads could be reduced, under a city-wide scheme, to 20mph. A map of the half of the million pound project’s first phase has been published. Gilbert Road and Arbury Road are included in the plans, as well as Green End Road and Chesterton’s High Street. But does the city need these speed restrictions? In just a moment I’ll be bringing in a campaigner, Dr Henry Tribe, who lives on one of the streets, but first joining me in the studio is Ian Manning, a county councillor for East Chesterton. Hello to you.
CHRIS MANN: Why do you think this scheme needs to be brought in?
IAN MANNING: Well first of all I probably should say that it’s not actually me that’s behind this. Because where this scheme has come from is essentially public demand. And there’s been loads of requests in the last couple of years from individual small residential streets to get 20mph zones. So set out a plan rather than doing it in a piecemeal rather costly way, the City Council set out a plan to do it all in one go, to save taxpayers’ money and meet the public demand.
CHRIS MANN: But it’s your party that’s buying this.
IAN MANNING: It is. Yes.
CHRIS MANN: So, tell us about it.
IAN MANNING: OK. So what we’re doing is a consultation on .. there are three, essentially three bits to it. A and B roads, which are the very major roads, are not allowed to be 20 mph zones, because it’s County Council policy. C roads, which are the roads like the ones that you mentioned, like Green End Road in Chesterton, which I’m very much in favour of being a 20mph, and the High Street. There’ll be an individual question in the consultation for each of those roads. And in unclassified roads, which are the very much smaller ones. there’ll be one question about all of those. And there’s lots of really good reasons for having 20mph zones, and the primary one has to be your chance of surviving an accident, which just dramatically increases between twenty and thirty mph.
CHRIS MANN: So the 20mph limit in North Cambridge to be introduced from next January?
IAN MANNING: That’s correct. Yes.
CHRIS MANN: That’s January 2014.
CHRIS MANN: With the city-wide project scheduled for completion in about Spring of 2015.
IAN MANNING: Yes. I think that’s the time scale. And obviously a lot of it depends upon how the consultation goes as to which roads are included in terms of the C roads.
CHRIS MANN: So your number one argument is it saves lives. Let’s bring in Dr Henry Tribe. Hello Henry.
CHRIS MANN: You’ve been campaigning against this for a while. Why do you think it shouldn’t be brought in?
HENRY TRIBE: I don’t think it’s necessary. You see, the speed of traffic in a road is .. if the road is a clear one like Gilbert Road .. is entirely dependent on the state of traffic. If it’s busy, if the traffic’s busy, then it will be regulated. If it’s not busy, there is no need whatever for it to be regulated below thirty. This has been the speed for towns and cities in the country for as long as motors have driven on the roads.
IAN MANNING: Well actually, the point about Gilbert Road is it is one of the C roads, so if there is a strong drive from residents to not have it, no-one’s going to really push for that. I should say that it’s not been since motors were invented. It’s been running since the late 1970s I believe, that limits have been introduced. But I’ve really got to reassure the other chap, Mr Tribe, that no-one is going to force Gilbert Road to be a 30mph zone (20mph?). That’s precisely why it’s going to be an individual question for Gilbert Road. If people don’t want it, it won’t happen.
HENRY TRIBE: Well then you will actually get the answer, you see, as to whether there is public demand.
IAN MANNING: Well absolutely. And if the public don’t want it, they won’t get it.
CHRIS MANN: Many Gilbert Road residents were against the 20mph limit when the new cycle lanes were introduced, and Henry, you were one of those then.
CHRIS MANN: So what was wrong with that?
HENRY TRIBE: Well I see no objection to 30mph on a road like Gilbert Road. 30mph. And I think I’m not so sure that you ae about the matter of the 1970s. As far as I know, 30mph has always been the speed limit for traffic in towns and cities in Britain.
IAN MANNING: Well I can say for certain that 20mph limits were first introduced in 1991. Recently Portsmouth ..
HENRY TRIBE: No, I said 30mph.
IAN MANNING: Yes, but I’m just saying that there are lots of different speed limits across .. Portsmouth is an interesting case, because that recently introduced 20mph limits across large sections. And they .. various statistics .. but they’ve reduced casualty rates by 20%. And even if you didn’t reduce the number of accidents, the key fact that you’ve got, I think it’s about an 80/90% chance of surviving a collision as a pedestrian at 20mph, but only a 30% chance of surviving a collision at 30. Surely that’s really important, that ..
IAN MANNING: If lots of residents don’t want Gilbert Road to be a 3o, it won’t be.
HENRY TRIBE: No. Well that is sensible, because this will be throughout the city. But you see in a way it is even more silly to have 20mph limits in the whole of the city, except for the A and B roads.
IAN MANNING: Well that’s County Council policy. We can’t do anything about that. But the point about this ..
CHRIS MANN: The point is those are the dangerous ones, and those are the ones where there are likely to be high-speed collisions, and people killed. It happens now.
IAN MANNING: Sure. But the point about speed limits is this is about the appropriate speed limit for the road, and in very small residential roads, roads near schools for example, near the Shirley School in my division, there was a huge clamour to bring in the 20mph limit around that, because I’ve talked about the statistics about adults, but if you look at the statistics for children surviving, it’s even more clear (for a) 20mph. But I completely agree. It’s about the appropriate speed for a road Chris. And that’s why A and B roads may not be appropriate for 20mph.
CHRIS MANN: Dr Tribe, one of the arguments that has been put forward, I’ve seen in the consultation, is that this lower speed limit will allow or encourage perhaps OAPs and cyclists to get out more and people to use the streets around their homes. Do you agree with that?
HENRY TRIBE: No. I don’t think it will make the slightest difference. Not the slightest.
HENRY TRIBE: I remember, I cycled all my life in Cambridge, and I never remember any great problem. Roads, one got used to them and that was it.
IAN MANNING: Another interesting point Chris is there are a lot of roads in the city where you can’t actually get very much above 20mph anyway, so the impact of this is really just formalising it, and this is not a huge change, but it’s a change that has come from public demand. There’s always going to be people against them, which is why these larger roads like Gilbert Road, it’s very much optional. But the City Council wouldn’t be responsible if they didn’t try and do this in the most taxpayer efficient way possible, which is bringing it in across the board for the smaller roads.
CHRIS MANN: I’ve received a Tweet telling us , we’ll have to trust this, that 30mph limits were introduced in 1934.
IAN MANNING: Well I stand corrected if that’s the case.
CHRIS MANN: So not since the beginning of the motor vehicle.
HENRY TRIBE: A good way back though.
CHRIS MANN: Henry Tribe thank you for joining us. Ian Manning, we’ve seen 20mph limits of course tried in the centre of Cambridge. But the signage is admittedly so poor that many people have been caught out unfairly.
IAN MANNING: Yes. The point about this is part of the reason .. well another reason for doing it across the whole centre is that the police have used the fact that there isn’t consistent 20mph as a reason to try and not enforce. This will take that reason away. And also we’ve lobbied hard with the new Police and Crime Commissioner, and he has said publicly that he is going to push for the police to enforce them. So it’s another good reason for doing it in a blanket way, with the exceptions of these C roads.
CHRIS MANN: Ian Manning, thank you for joining us, County Councillor for East Chesterton, from the Liberal Democrats of course, and also campaigner Dr Henry Tribe.. Thank you both.