20mph waste of money

April 18, 2012 3:55 PM

Why is Bath & North East Somerset Council persisting with its plans to introduce 20mph speed limits across Bath? They waste taxpayers’ money, are environmentally unfriendly and are either legally unenforceable or ineffective. 20mph zones are only enforceable if they come with expensive (and unpopular) traffic calming measures, such as humps and road narrowing; the idea being they are self-enforceable. 20mph speed limits are only enforceable if they are accompanied by frequent repeater signs; miss one out and that invalidates the whole area.

The Transport Research Laboratory concluded that signed 20mph speed limits only reduce traffic speeds by about one mph and deliver no significant reduction in accidents. In contrast, 20mph zones achieve average speed reductions of 10mph with more dramatic accident reductions.

Either way, the police are generally very uninterested in enforcing 20 mph speed limits. In Oxford, last year, the Chief Inspector of roads policing rejected a council call to enforce their 20 mph speed limits, saying ‘Simply putting a different number at the end of a road and relying on enforcement alone to achieve compliance is not the answer.’

In Lancashire, the worst the County Council can come up with for those who persistently ignore the limits is to ‘deploy Speed Indicator Devices (SpIDs), commonly known as Smiley Face Speed Signs in order to positively reinforce driving at 20 mph in appropriate locations.’

The Association of British Drivers is more blunt about the political intentions behind these 20mph limits: ‘Local authorities must not be allowed the power to set 20 mph limits wherever they like, as many of them will certainly abuse this power by introducing inappropriate 20 mph zones as part of their “traffic restraint” measures to make car use unattractive compared with other modes of transport. There has already been significant abuse of 20 mph zones… by anti-car local authorities, and this has been shown to be detrimental to road safety.’

So what is it to be B&NES: expensive and unpopular but effective 20 mph zones, or ineffective 20 mph speed limits? Perhaps that distinction could be put clearly before Bath residents in the forthcoming wave of costly council consultations.Why is Bath & North East Somerset Council persisting with its plans to introduce 20mph speed limits across Bath? They waste taxpayers’ money, are environmentally unfriendly and are either legally unenforceable or ineffective. 20mph zones are only enforceable if they come with expensive (and unpopular) traffic calming measures, such as humps and road narrowing; the idea being they are self-enforceable. 20mph speed limits are only enforceable if they are accompanied by frequent repeater signs; miss one out and that invalidates the whole area.

The Transport Research Laboratory concluded that signed 20mph speed limits only reduce traffic speeds by about one mph and deliver no significant reduction in accidents. In contrast, 20mph zones achieve average speed reductions of 10mph with more dramatic accident reductions.

Either way, the police are generally very uninterested in enforcing 20 mph speed limits. In Oxford, last year, the Chief Inspector of roads policing rejected a council call to enforce their 20 mph speed limits, saying ‘Simply putting a different number at the end of a road and relying on enforcement alone to achieve compliance is not the answer.’

In Lancashire, the worst the County Council can come up with for those who persistently ignore the limits is to ‘deploy Speed Indicator Devices (SpIDs), commonly known as Smiley Face Speed Signs in order to positively reinforce driving at 20 mph in appropriate locations.’

The Association of British Drivers is more blunt about the political intentions behind these 20mph limits: ‘Local authorities must not be allowed the power to set 20 mph limits wherever they like, as many of them will certainly abuse this power by introducing inappropriate 20 mph zones as part of their “traffic restraint” measures to make car use unattractive compared with other modes of transport. There has already been significant abuse of 20 mph zones… by anti-car local authorities, and this has been shown to be detrimental to road safety.’

So what is it to be B&NES: expensive and unpopular but effective 20 mph zones, or ineffective 20 mph speed limits? Perhaps that distinction could be put clearly before Bath residents in the forthcoming wave of costly council consultations.

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