Monday, 4 November 2013

Living Streets letter to the Argus about trade unions, economic prosperity and cars in Brighton – unpublished

Dear Sir

Brighton and Hove Living Streets Group hope that the members of Unite and the GMB will reflect on and recognise the benefits of lower speed limits to the wider community and those who visit the city, before union officials spend their hard-won subscriptions on campaigning against 20mph speed limits – which are now the norm in cities across the rest of Europe. The UK is now playing catch up; councils which include the City of London and Birmingham are now implementing the 20mph limit because the evidence shows that it makes our streets safer for those not in cars, and means a more pleasant environment for everyone. Traffic has dominated our towns and city centres for over half a century; it’s high time that there was some encouragement for those wishing to walk or cycle in safety. After all, the streets belong to everyone – not just those who happen to be on four wheels.

If the Unite and GMB unions are serious about protecting the livelihoods of their members they should consider that turning Brighton and Hove into an unsafe, traffic-choked and pollution-blighted “car friendly” city is a great way to deter visitors, meaning that fewer people will be taking taxis and buses. Which doesn’t seem a good way to support their jobs.

By contrast, an approach that relies more on evidence than assertion has been set out in the new Living Streets report on the Pedestrian Pound. It shows that pedestrians spend up to six times more on our high streets than those who arrive by car. Investing in the public realm – including pedestrianising areas and slowing down the traffic – has been shown to boost footfall and local economies by up to 40%.

Yours etc

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