Twenty’s plenty. Or is it? Many think so. Some don’t. Why? What are we talking about? Speed limits of course! El Brute have launched a consultation on their proposal to impose a 20mph speed limit on all roads in the borough. The only exceptions to this would be the A316 and the A205 (the south circular running through Barnes up to Kew) which are under Transport for London red route control. 20mph limits already exist in some parts of the borough, including the main roads through Twickenham town centre, but extending it to all roads would be a significant change. The intention, according to the Brutes, is that this will improve air quality, create environments that are more conducive to walking and cycling, reduce the number and severity of accidents and reduce the need for traffic calming measures. They also point out that 20mph limits already exist in full or in part in 15 of London’s Boroughs.
The aspirations are noble, but do they work? Research into 20mph limits has shown a very small reduction in average traffic speeds, just 1-2mph, perhaps suggesting that drivers either don’t pay too much attention to the limits (probably too busy staring at their bloody phones) or can rarely get above 20mph on many roads anyway (probably too busy fiddling with the sat nav). However, the research also shows that a 1mph reduction in average speeds can lead to a 6% reduction in collisions on urban roads. A small but potentially significant drop. What is perhaps more important is the reduction in serious injuries caused when vehicles are travelling at 20mph compared to 30mph. In this situation the chance of a pedestrian being fatally injured drops from 20% to 2.5%. It’s a major improvement.
It is hoped that the reduction in speed limits will make cycling and walking more attractive. Given that average speeds only fall by 1-2 mph this would seem to be about perception and ‘creating a culture’ rather than about any ‘would be’ cyclists thinking that a 1mph difference in traffic speeds will significantly enhance their riding experience. Cue comments about bloody cyclists always being on the pavements anyway AND jumping red lights at the same time! Idiots! And do NOT get us started on pedestrians with all that ‘walking around’ stuff they do.
Additional traffic calming measures such as speed bumps are not planned as part of the scheme. It’s all about the signage, see. We’ll tell you something for nothing, one thing that does need sorting out is the current, ridiculous situation where the main routes through central Twickenham such as Heath Road, Richmond Road and London Road have a 20mph limit while the side streets off them still have 30mph. Eh? The message is confused at best, dangerous at worst… Turn off the main drag, put your foot down, let’s go!!! Whether every ‘main drag’ in the whole borough needs a 20mph limit is likely to be a source of ‘healthy discussion’.
If you have any views on El Brute’s proposals you have until 21st December to let them know. There’s an online survey but there are also “Community Conversation Events” over the next couple of months in different towns around the borough.
Events local to locals like you are:
15th October – Clarendon Hall, York House, Twickenham
1st November – RACC, Parkshot, Richmond
5th November – Teddington Methodist Church & Community Centre
29th November – Whitton Community Centre
10th December – Twickenham United Reformed Church
All events begin at 6.30pm.
So, a sensible proposal which will bring tangible benefits and make for a better and safer borough or another blow for car drivers from the anti-car brigade? Or… is it both? (Although we’re not sure this one actually can be both)
Have your say. The outcomes of the 20mph consultation will go to Richmond Council’s Cabinet in 2019.