The A420 Church Road, 20 mph in Redfield, Bristol.
As I explained before the main issue is the proposed exclusion of so many streets within the proposed 20 mph pilot areas. We know that the highway engineers are generally hostile to the idea of 20 mph areas and I suspect the proliferation of excluded streets is their way of undermining the scheme. We also know that some Councillors, notably Executive Member Jon Rogers, are very keen to get 20 mph implemented and he is on record as being unhappy with the number of excluded streets.
Now you may think 'why doesn't Jon Rogers, our elected representative, just tell the officers to cut the excluded streets?'. Well it seems that the levers of power aren't that simple or direct. He cannot do this alone and needs our support. We need to demonstrate the extent of popular support for the 20 mph concept and opposition to the excluded roads. And we need to do it by the end of this month when the formal consultation comes to an end.
One of our allies in this is George Ferguson, whose 'By George' column in today's Evening Post makes the case very well. I know I've had a pop at George on many occasions but that's just the iconoclast in me. In mostly makes a lot of sense and makes it very eloquently, especially in this case. To quote a few salient points from George's piece:-
Great stuff. But we need more support and that means YOU. I know, we're all busy, etc. So I'm going to make it easy. Below is my own submission. Please use it as a template for your own comments. Delete anything you're uncomfortable with, add anything you think is missing, but PLEASE send something to firstname.lastname@example.org (and copy it to Jon Rogers and your local councillors) and please do it now.
"Having given the (20 mph) area a clear boundary, the document then complicates the issue by suggesting leaving certain routes through the area at the current 30mph limit. The fact is that these key routes are also key cycling and walking routes, and go past some of the seven primary schools within the area.
The trouble with traffic measures is that they are generally planned by highway engineers, who – however well-meaning – tend to think in terms of roads and traffic flow, and have very different criteria from those of us who occupy the streets for shopping and walking to school or to work and who regard them as social territory."
I strongly support the general principle of 20 mph as the general speed limit for all residential and shopping areas in Bristol.
The benefits are numerous, including of course less danger and intimidation of pedestrians and cyclists, easier and safer crossing of streets, less noise and pollution, less stress and even less traffic. The costs could be minimal if signing were kept to a minimum.
I would like to see the introduction of 20 mph over the whole of Bristol's residential areas, or at the very least the whole inner city where streets are generally narrower and/or heavily parked. I do not see the point in limiting it to two pilot areas since this increases the perimeter to area ratio so requiring more signing at more public expense for a given area.
However the major flaw in the current proposals is that the pilot areas have 'excluded' streets. In most cases these are the streets which most need lower speeds, where danger and intimidation is greatest, where most crossing movements take place, where people shop, walk and cycle, where schools are accessed and where noise, pollution and stress are greatest.
Excluding these streets will totally undermine the stated purpose of the 20 mph scheme. It will greatly increase the amount of signing required and hence the cost of the scheme and it will the create confusion by making it unclear whether a particular street is 20 mph or 30 mph without constant reference to signs which is impractical and a dangerous distraction in urban areas.
Apart from clearly non-residential roads like Easton Way there should be no exclusions within the 20 mph areas. In practice actual speeds will vary around the 20 mph mark according to local conditions, as they should, and on some streets the average may be significantly higher, but even speeds slightly above 20 mph will be a big improvement on speeds slightly above 30 mph.
Getting the 20 mph scheme right is of fundamental importance for the credibility of Cycling City, the Council's Walking Strategy and indeed the Council's overall 'Green' aspirations. The current proposals with the excluded streets have already been widely criticised and there can be little doubt that a 20 mph based on the current proposals will be seen as a failure of nerve on the part of the Council.