Whilst not many people know the name of Sir Miles Prower, the senior civil servant who devised the sliding scale of units for speed limits back in the 1930s, we’re still living with his legacy today. His 30 ‘miles per hour’ standard has been the default limit for urban environments for years but recent campaigns for lower limits have met with some success. Last autumn Richmond Council ran a consultation exercise on its proposal to roll out a 20 mph across the whole of the borough. Although central Twickenham’s main roads already have a (poorly observed) 20 mph limit, the Council’s plan would see the new limit apply to all roads with the exception of those controlled by TfL, namely the A316 and the section of the south circular over in Barnes.  The results of the consultation are in and, drumroll, El Brute intend to push on with the 20 mph limit albeit with a tweaked version of their original proposal.

Twenty’s plenty?

Their objective? To make roads safer, to reduce the need for traffic calming measures, to (maybe) improve air quality, to reduce the seriousness of accidents when they occur and, perhaps most importantly, and we quote, create an ‘overall improvement in the liveability of neighbourhoods’.

Nearly 10,000 responses were received and, as is the modern way, the ‘vote’ was split almost right down the middle. 48% were in favour of the new limit with 50% against it. Interestingly, younger and older respondents were more supportive of the proposals presumably meaning the stronger ‘no’ vote came from the middle aged masses. Actually perhaps it’s not that surprising after all.

In response to the feedback, El Brute will press on but have revised their proposal to either leave some routes as 30 mph (namely the A308 between Kingston and Hampton) and also to initially exclude the A310 (Twickenham to Kingston) and A305 (Apex Corner to Twickenham) while further work is carried out on speed and collision reduction measures. In other words, for Twickenham, that’s basically 20 mph everywhere except Cross Deep, Strawberry Vale and Staines Road. It will eliminate the current, rather bizarre situation of Twickenham town centre’s main roads having a 20 limit while all the surrounding residential side roads still have 30 mph.

20 mph in Twickenham

There have been plenty of views expressed on social media, both for an against the change. One topic that has received a lot of air time is whether the new lower limits will create an environment that actually encourages locals to ditch their cars and get on their bikes or walk or run or use one of those ridiculous battery powered scootery things. Making that work is a really crucial part of the whole approach if we’re not just going to have the same number of cars driving around ever so slightly more slowly than they were before. Twickenham town centre is not exactly pedestrian heaven and as for the ‘advisory’ cycle lanes through King Street and on London Road, well, they’re barely worth the paint used to create them. For most considerate car drivers 20 mph limits won’t create much ‘inconvenience’ or delay and should bring some wider benefits to the borough but the new limits need to be closely tied in to a wider transport and environmental policy if they’re to have a really significant impact in our community.

The proposal goes to El Brute’s Housing, Community Safety and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 25th February and then to Cabinet on 14th March.

Gimmick… or good move? You decide.