Monday, 30 September 2013

20’s Plenty as the new default urban speed limit. And is the “Fight for Car-Friendly” Brighton really about cars?

images 20mph sign As the campaign to “Unchain the Brighton Motorist” splurges on more Argus ads, there’s an interesting commentary on the ongoing saga of 20mph in the blog Notes on a Broken Society.
“The rational approach is obvious; make progress on the basis of evidence from elsewhere, and then make future decisions on the basis of what happens in Brighton and Hove when you can properly do so.  But this debate is not about transport politics; it is about the political narratives that frame our city. And that’s why it’s so toxic, and why its implications for the city are so important.”
More along these lines at the blog.

And here’s the latest release from campaigners at 20’s Plenty, who are arguing that 20mph should be the UK’s normal residential speed limit. Which, in the language of behavioural economics is a good example of setting a new default. And so it should be, since it’s supported by Under Secretary of State for Transport Norman Baker and Shadow Transport Minister Maria Eagle (someone should tell Brighton Labour’s Gill Mitchell).

As 20’s Plenty note in today’s press release,

“Conference topics, speeches, council votes, highway authority and police actions on speed limits are increasingly showing the UK transitioning to 20mph as the normal residential speed limit. At Labour’s Party conference Shadow Transport Minister Maria Eagle MP firmly committed to 20mph residential limits. The Association for Chief Police Officer guidance on enforcement is being updated due to requests from Parliamentary Under Secretary for Transport Norman Baker MP for tougher policing of 20mph limits.
The City of London voted overwhelmingly (95 for vs 5 against) for every road to have a 20mph limit. Regional capitals Cardiff and Edinburgh are saying 20’s Plenty too. Councils of all colours have backed 20mph limits for their traffic authorities. 209 branches of 20’s Plenty for Us nationwide are also evidence of wide-area 20mph’s near universal appeal.

The Department for Transport are backing community wide 20mph limits with guidance changes and with several Cycle City Ambition Fund grants like Birmingham’s £0.8 million towards 20mph and Local Sustainable Development Grants. This is not just a casualty reduction issue. Further benefits are from improvements in quality of life and encouragement of active and more sustainable transport methods such as walking and cycling;

Founder of 20’s Plenty for Us, Rod King MBE, commented

“The 30mph national limit has been rejected as inappropriate by many of our largest conurbations for where people live, shop, work and travel to school. We are in transition to 20mph limits being the norm with exceptions where a higher limit is justifiable. Authorities must recognise that “It’s time for 20” and that “There’s a place for 30”. This needs to be done by setting 20mph as the normal built-up speed limit and then repeater signs showing where it’s right to have another limit. This signage rule change is both cheaper and gives drivers a consistent message.”

Whether it’s about cars or not, when it comes to 20mph one thing is clear: the struggle continues. Take a stance and register your views at the BHCC consultation website – but hurry, the consultation closes on Friday 4th October.

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