Saturday, 7 November 2009

20 mph - Jon Rogers says No to Officers

Councillor Jon Rogers, Executive Member for Transport and Sustainability, has sent in a comment (below) on his council's 20 mph proposals which we've been covering extensively on this blog.

The most contentious issue is the number of streets to be excluded from the 20 mph coverage within the pilot areas, with the officers taking a predictably cautious approach with the exclusion of all streets which already have an average speed above 24 mph (so excluding the ones that most need calming).

Jon Roger's rejection of his officers' report and insistence on fewer exclusions represents a major showdown on a matter that Jon Rogers clearly feels very strongly about. Jon's comment -
Morning all

I would appreciate some help.

I have this week rejected the officer report on 20mph areas.

To be fair, they had added the following previously excluded roads to the list of 20mph roads...

Inner East Bristol:
Mina Road
Ashley Rd
Stapleton Rd (part) – between its junctions with Easton Way & Robertson Rd.

Inner South Bristol:
North St (part) – between its junctions with Dean Lane/Cannon St & Luckwell Rd
Dean Lane
Cannon Street
West Street
East St/Bedminster Parade.

I hope we all would agree to those.

However, officers had recommended that I reject residents calls for the following streets to be included as 20mph.

Inner East Bristol:
Whitehall Road
Easton Road
Church Road (western end)
Ashley Hill
Sussex Place
Sevier Street
James Street
York Street
Fishponds Rd (between junctions with Robertson Rd & Muller Rd)
Old Market
Pennywell Rd
Lamb Street/Lawfords Gate

Inner South Bristol:
St Luke’s Road
Greenway Bush Lane
North Street (between junctions with Luckwell Rd & Ashton Rd)
Ashton Road
Duckmoor Road
Luckwell Road
Smyth Road
Malago Road

I know very well and use regularly only the five in Ashley Ward...

Ashley Hill
Sussex Place
Sevier Street
James Street
York Street

I had previously emphasised (as Ashley ward councillor) to officers, that in my opinion, they should include all these 5 roads in the pilot (as well as Mina Road and Ashley Road, which they have supported).

This would mean that on entering Ashley ward, there would be a 20mph speed on ALL our residential roads. This could reduce the need for 20mph signs, limiting them to the entry roads, and perhaps reminders along the main routes.

I therefore, on the basis of what I know about Ashley ward, rejected the report.

However I can see that some of these roads should be kept at 30 mph, for example major bus routes or where the police have major concerns over enforcement.

What I need help on is the other roads. Does the same apply to them, or are officers right to recommend exclusion.



View 20 mph in Bristol in a larger map

I've marked up the roads listed on my 20 mph map which you can get a better view of by clicking on it. The streets now accepted for inclusion are marked boldly in green (of course). Those remaining excluded (at 30 mph) are in red. The 20 mph pilot area boundaries are marked in blue.

So let's have your comments and freedback, particlularly for those areas in south Bristol and east Bristol that you know best.


The Bristol Blogger said...

St Lukes Road runs along Victoria Park.

It's a main route for kids on foot/bike/scooter etc heading to the park from Totterdown and a walk-to-school route.

On this basis alone it deserves inclusion.

Although it is a bus route it is a very minor one (one bus an hour?).

I use Malago Road and North Street a fair bit but I'm sure there's people better qualified to comment.

Chris Hutt said...

BB, remember your comment on an earlier 20 mph post? -

Your said "...why can't Jon just tell the officers to cut the excluded streets?"

Well now you have your answer. He can and he has.

Ben S said...

Has Cllr Rogers given any indication why the officers have rejected residents calls for these excluded roads to be included in the pilot, other than the point about average speeds being above 24mph?

Without knowing their arguments for exclusion it is difficult to know what evidence/ opinions we could offer to challenge their stance.

Elizabeth said...

Surely what is good enough for Ashley Ward is good enough for other wards. Simpler and cheaper too. So come on the rest of you councillors, don't leave it all to Dr Rogers to get things nicer for his ward and not yours: let's just have 20mph for all residential and shopping streets in the city centre, to make life in Bristol just that little bit more civilized. It has a long way to go to catch up with continental cities in this respect, and even other English cities.

Jon Rogers said...

I have had a couple of personal responses from councillors already. (I emailed all BCC councillors with the blog link)

(1) "Not to sure about church road being a main road (A420 Bus route) some at 30mph some at 20mph seems a bit silly and I would like to see all church road remain at 30mph."

(2) "Initial thought is that 20mph should be the norm in residential roads, some of which are very narrow as you know, main routes should stay at 30mph, as originally recommended.

"Trying to crawl along a main thoroughfayre at 20mph is infuriating and does little to improve road safety. I must be one of the few drivers who comply with the 20mph stretch along Church Road."

Councillor opinion seems to support officer view so far.

Chris Hutt said...

Jon may well reply directly on that but as I understand it the 24 mph average speed benchmark seems to be treated as sacrosanct.

There is an issue over the willingness of the police to enforce the speed limit, but as far as I can see they just don't anyway.

Another point made in defence of excluded roads is that if a road used as a local rat run is made 20 mph then traffic might be displaced to another rat run where it would be more problematical.

Yet another point that perhaps has a little more validity is that if roads are included in 20 mph and motorists ignore the limit then it brings the 20 mph concept into disrepute.

I don't have much sympathy with any of those arguments but I list them for your information. I can't see that there's anything to lose by making a street 20 mph. What's the worse that can happen?

Jon Rogers said...

BenS asks, ""Has Cllr Rogers given any indication why the officers have rejected residents call"

The report at my briefing gave the reasons for excluding all the roads marked in red on Chris Hutt's map (thanks Chris) as...

"Officers have also considered 20 other sections of roads which were excluded from the original proposals, but which were requested through the Public Engagement process. These roads do not meet the speed requirement for a 20mph limit and following additional discussions with Avon and Somerset Police, they stand by their original position that they do not support changing these roads to 20mph. It is therefore recommended that these roads (see page 6) are not included as 20mph limits under these proposals.

That is the only argument given, and I had previously stated to officers that feedback from local police contacts had suggested that they did not object to the recommendations outlined above that many people had made in Ashley.

It may be that ALL the other streets named would raise major police objection, but I agree with Elizabeth, we need feedback from local ward councillors. I genuinely do not know.

Chris Hutt said...

The way I see 20 mph is that it will function in a similar way to 30 mph and act more as a reference point than a strict limit.

Motorists routinely exceed the 30 mph limit by a few miles an hour and will undoubtedly do the same with 20 mph. But if the effect is to reduce actual speeds by up to 10 mph then that is surely a big gain.

I drive a fair bit around Bristol and for some time I've been driving to a 20 mph reference point, which means in practice varying my speed around that figure (generally 15 - 25 mph) according to circumstances. In my opinion it works very well for all concerned (except for the young hotheads stuck behind me).

On 30 mph limited roads nobody should in theory drive even at 30 mph so if people actually obeyed the law they would drive at about 25 mph to give a clear margin to avoid 'drifting' over the limit.

In practice the proposed 20 mph limits would achieve much the same effect as a strictly enforced 30 mph limit, namely speeds of around 25 mph on main roads.

It seems to me that the notional 20 mph is a better way of achieving this than through strict enforcement, but if that is what motorists prefer...

Chris Hutt said...

Thinking a bit more about that, here's a possible basis for resolving the issue.

Give local people and the police a simple choice for each street - either (a) a notional 20 mph limit which will not be enforced or (b) a strict 30 mph limit which will be resolutely enforced.

I think you'll find that most motorists and the police in particular will much prefer the former.

woodsy said...

"These roads do not meet the speed requirement for a 20mph limit...."


For the benefit and enlightenment of those of us who are not highway engineers or traffic management boffins, could you possibly extract from your officers exactly what these requirement are?

RogerH said...

I'm a Inner South Bristol resident (pretty much slap in the middle of the zone). First let me say I am hugely relieved that Dean Lane in now included in the 20mph limit (though if it hadn't been I would have lost all faith in the council traffic officers and councillors). I'm also very pleasantly surprised that West Street is included despite its A road status.

Some of the other exclusions I agree with - in particular Dalby Avenue - Malago Road - Sheene Lane, which is effectively the East Street bypass and by no stretch residential.

I can't understand including North Street between its junctions with Dean Lane/Cannon St & Luckwell Rd but excluding the section of North Street between Luckwell Rd and Greenway Bush Lane however - this latter section is a local shopping centre with both daytime shops and evening bars and restaurants both sides and pedestrians frequently crossing. If you glance at the map it doesn't make sense for traffic flow either - it's now a 30mph dead end.

I'll try to find time to email my local councillors and Jon Rogers - when's the council meeting to vote on this?

Jon Rogers said...

Woodsy asks, "exactly what these requirements [for 20mph limits] are"?

The planned FAQ on this question says, "Government guidance based on previous research indicates that where vehicles drive at speeds greater than 24mph on a road the desired reduction in speed is not achievable without the use of additional traffic calming features such as road humps.

"However, traffic calming is not appropriate on major through routes because of the impact this will have on the Emergency Services’ response times, and also the unsuitability of them along bus routes.

"The significant extra cost involved through installing traffic calming on roads is beyond the funds available for this scheme, should such measures be supported by the communities."

Others may be able to point to the relevant DfT guidance note. To me, guidance is guidance. As a Cycling Demonstration City we have been encouraged to experiment and innovate a little.


Jon Rogers said...

RogerH posted some thoughtful comments, thank you.

He asks, "when's the council meeting to vote on this?"

There is no vote. Once officers and our Cabinet have agreed on the roads, we will formally publish our response to the consultation.

We will then publish TRO Traffic Regulation Orders for the two pilot areas and allow the statutory 21 days for responses to a formal consultation.

We may need to allow some extra days if it goes over Christmas or there is a postal strike.


RogerH said...

Thanks for the info on the next stage of the process Jon. So is there any need for me to put my point above in an email to you and my local councillors (with my full name & address) or is the blog comment enough?

Jon Rogers said...

I would definitely encourage people to write to their local ward councillors, copying to me. Thanks

Tim M. said...

I think this whole 20mph thing is just illusionary in the sense that it will not be accepted, and debates about how strictly it would or should be enforced don't help that. Either it's a speed limit that should be enforced, or it's not. In the latter case the speed limit should be raised.

I'd just go for 25mph instead of 30, that way people are likely to stay at <= 30mph, but it's not so low that they'll just disregard it (like everyone does with the silly 10mph/15mph speed limits in all these shopping centre car parks).

Anyway, regarding the roads:

Dalby Ave, Malago Road:
while it is certainly true that this stretch of road is not particularly residential in character, I'm not really sure if it makes a difference in practice if this road is excluded or not. During the day you're almost guaranteed to catch a red light at at least one of the multiple signalled pedestrian crossings, and this will determine your average speed in the end. I think it's pretty much impossible to drive the curve that is Dalby Ave at 30mph anyway. I can see why one would want to keep the straight stretch at 30mph though (not least because of the bus lane I guess). In short: likely only makes a difference at night.
(PS: also keep in mind that there's a massive residential development with shops planned on the former Pring&St.Hills factory site)

Sheene Ln:
does it really make a difference if this is 20mph or 30mph? And what's the point of keeping this 30mph if both West St and East St are at 20mph? Going uphill the hill and the lights (and queues in front of the lights) will moderate speeds already, downhill people should be going slower than they do currently, esp. when turning left into Malago Rd, because of the pedestrian crossing there, which is often used without people waiting for the light (it just takes too long); visibility is poor for both pedestrians and cars at this corner. In short: make it 20mph as well.

St. Johns Lane off Malago Rd end:
In practice I don't think it will make a difference. If you don't get stuck behind a bus loading/unloading passengers at the bus stop, you will either catch a red light at the crossing or hit the traffic light queue. The entire stretch is so short that again it does not matter. However, there is a lot of pedestrian activity and crossing going on on this short stretch.

St. Lukes Rd:
should be included in the 20mph zone. It always feels like a very dangerous road to me to drive through. Lots of pedestrian activity/crossing and cyclists about, with narrow pavements (or so it always seems to me). Also don't think it makes much difference really, often you get stuck either behind a large vehicle waiting for space to pass under the bridge, or a cyclist (which you can't pass here because it's all too narrow and the underpass is coming up).

East St:
it's a good thing this got included for the whole stretch, since people often cross anywhere along that stretch, and also it's a tricky bit for cyclists with vehicles parked on the side etc. (and again, I don't think it makes much difference in practice, because of the 2-3 lights).

St. John's Lane:
it is a mystery to me why St. John's lane got excluded in its entirety. Does anyone ever manage to drive through there at 30mph? Again, I think that's completely impossible, even with a tiny car like mine: the quality of the road is just too bad, and the road is quite narrow with all those vehicles parked on both sides. You often have to negotiate with oncoming traffic. (Btw, the cycle lanes along this road are a joke as well). This road is residential in character and runs next to a school even. Besides, lowering the speed limit here would probably improve traffic flows since merging into traffic when coming down from Knowle would be possible again.

East St./West St.:
impressed this got included, well done!

The Bristol Blogger said...

"Trying to crawl along a main thoroughfayre at 20mph is infuriating and does little to improve road safety."

This is selfish, evidence-free subjective nonsense. From the BMJ:

"The evidence of increased pedestrian safety at 20 mph is strong. The chance of a pedestrian being seriously injured or killed if struck by a car is 45% if the car is travelling at 30 mph but only 5% at 20 mph."

Surely we should all be able to agree on the facts?

Chris Hutt said...

The comment BB quoted above was from a councillor who you might think would be more aware of the issues arising from one of the Council's own initiatives.

In reality a notional 20 mph limit will make little difference to journey times since you are usually just making short spurts of speed between junctions where there are often traffic queues.

The fact that cyclists who rarely touch 20 mph can make better progress across town than motorists able to accelerate up to 30 mph in seconds speaks for itself. It is steady progress that counts rather than top speed.

In fact the closer traffic speeds are to 20 mph the fewer interruptions to flow would be required. Many Pelican type pedestrian crossings would be unnecessary if drivers went no faster than 20 mph, and light controlled junctions might be changed for priority ones like mini roundabouts.

Driving at a steady 20 mph without having to stop would allow 1 mile to be covered in just 3 minutes! That would be hard to match under current conditions with a 30 mph limit and the need for frequent traffic lights.

Chris Hutt said...

There are quite a few excluded streets that really ought to be included because they form part of important cycle routes.

1. Midland Road.

The Bristol Railway Path terminates near here and the main links form it to the city centre must cross Midland Road. In the case of the link to Temple Meads and the Cheesegrater Bridge that involves riding along Midland Road for over 100 metres between St Philips Rd and Barton Rd and making a right turn. That's an inherently risky manoeuvre and really demands a 20 mph environment.

2. Stapleton Road - Lamb St.

These streets form a direct radial route through Easton connecting Eastville with the centre. The eastern section of Stapleton Road is now agreed to be 20 mph but why not the western section? This route has great potential to serve cyclists if it was treated consistently as 20 mph.

3. Easton Road.

This road is crossed by an important link from the Railway Path into Easton via Brixton Road and All Hallows road. Crossing easton Road would be much safer at 20 mph.

4. Duckmoor Road.

This is part of a valuable cycle route that links the River Avon crossing (Ashton Avenue Bridge) near the Createajob Centre with Hartcliffe Way and the Malago Greenway route. It enables cyclists to enjoy a relatively quick and quiet route avoiding the Winterstoke Road. Really needs to be 20 mph though.

5. St Lukes Road.

Others have mentioned this one. It leads to the Banana Bridge which enables cyclists to avoid the two gyratory river crossings (Bedminster Bridge and Bath Bridge) and at the southern end feeds into Knowle and enables cyclists to avoid the Wells Road. St Lukes Road also enables cyclists to avoid the steep hills at either side (Windmill Hill and Totterdown). Again it really needs to be 20 mph.

I could go on but that was just to illustrate the kind of cycle link opportunities that even Cycling City seem unable to identify. Let's just make everything 20mph to start with and revert to 30 mph if and where any real problem manifests itself.

Anonymous said...

Thank god I am not a local Cllr..having to debate this day in day out, would get very tedious!

Forest Pines said...

A south Bristol resident writes:

I agree that Malago Road isn't really residential (at the moment); but reducing the speed limit on it might actually help with the long traffic queues that build up on it. What would also help Malago Road a lot would be a more sensible bus lane than the current one: at present most of the southbound buses don't even use the bus lane, because they need to be in the queue of right-turning traffic.

Luckwell Road between Duckmoor Road and North St should definitely be 20mph; as should Smyth Road. The rest of Luckwell Road and Duckmoor Road I'm less convinced about; and restricting the speed there might cause problems for the 24/25 bus route. Duckmoor Road always feels a lot wider than the other streets in the area, so probably has room for a sensible-width cycle path.

The Bristol Blogger said...

It would appear that this process has been an entirely one dimensional and desk-based exercise in which an officer has estimated average speeds on a given road (no doubt there's a formula somewhere) and depending on the result ticked a 'yes' or 'no' box.

Judging by St Luke's Road, no account has been taken of the reality on the ground or other factors.

We appear to have a walk-to-school route; a huge number of pedestrians regularly using and crossing the route; it's a cycle route and it's by a park!

Yet officers see no need for it to be a 20mph route?

Jenny said...

Greenway Bush Lane

Ashton Gate Primary is on this Rd so surely this should be 20mph? It is used as a rat run between Coronation Rd and North Street but I think that this should not affect the fact that it has the school on it an should therefore have a lower limit. My mother in law lives on this road so I know it very well and it is very dangerous to cross it at certain times of the day.

North Street between Luckwell Rd and Ashton Rd
This is the most dangerous bit of North Street as this is the busiest shops are located. The crossing by the Tobacco Factory is in an odd place anyway because if you want to cross North Street using this crossing you have to cross Raleigh Rd twice without any help in order to get across and as this junction is a cross road it is a difficult one in any case. The parked cars along this section of North Street make it very tricky to cross and to pull out of Rds like Gathorne. How there are not more major accidents on this section I do not know.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Greenway Bush Lane and North Street between Ashton Road and Luckwell Road:

Greenway Bush Lane:
As Jenny states above, this is a rat run and it appears that officers are using this as the basis for excluding it from the 20mph zone. I use this road daily to take my kids to school and it can be very hard to cross, as traffic often exceeds 30mph by a long margin. The ludicrous thing is that there is a 20mph school area on the road anyway (at North Street end). And yes I know there is a lollipop man, but if your kids go to breakfast or after school as mine do, then the 20 zone and assisted crossing hasn't got going or is over by the time you and the kids are on the road.
At the very least, any road with a school should be in the 20 zone, and this includes Duckmoor too.

Looking ahead to a new potential store at Ashton Gate, and you can see how Greenway Bush Lane will become an even more attractive rat run in future.

North Street:
As a main shopping area with parking (much on double yellows) on both sides, this road is also tricky to cross. The two sides of the street are already effectively seperate shopping zones due to the position of the zebra away from most shops and traffic speed. It just seem daft to exclude this section of road, when there would be clear benefits to shoppers and traders from slower moving traffic.
It would make it a safer and so more appealing street to shop on.

From the point of view of clear law making, surely there is a good arguement for making all roads within a given boundary subject to the same speed restrictions?

Chris U

Alice F said...

Surely the fact that a child is 9 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured if hit by a car travelling at 30 than one travelling at 20 outweighs the mild inconvenience to the council member who finds it 'infurating' to drive at 20? Many of the remaining excluded roads in Bedminster are main walking/cycling routes to school or important shopping and social spaces which would benefit massively from a reduction in traffic speed. Speed bumps and similar traffic calming measures are so passe - plant some trees and put cycle parking in the road!

Adam said...

Whitehall Road into Russell Town Avenue.

Whitehall Road is scarily difficult to cross, even with a zebra crossing half way along it (which most people won't walk the distance to to cross anyway) and the fact that you cannot trust vehicles to stop for pedestrians on the zebra crossing as they are usually travelling so fast they don't want to.

The fact that Whitehall Rd and Russell Town Avenue have A City Academy, Easton Childrens Centre and a well used entrance to the Railway path heavily frequented by both pedestrians and cyclists really needs to be taken into account. It's crazy that Whitehall Road is being left out.

I will be crossing both Church Rd and Whitehall Rd twice a day starting in a month to get my son to Nursery School and back and am already feeling sick at the prospect of having to put my little boy through the risk of being anywhere near those two roads on a regular basis. We walk or cycle and would hate to feel that we needed to get into a car for such a short journey just to be safe amidst the terrifying traffic.

I am also trying to teach my son road safety. This is very difficlut on the local roads where cars often don't stop for traffic lights or pedestrian crossings. When we do get the chance to cross on the green man then it is usually only for a few seconds. In the couple of minutes that it usually takes for the lights to let us cross I'm sure my son has learnt more about not waiting for the green man through observing everyone else give up frustrated by the wait and running across unsafely as the timings are extremely pedestrian unfriendly.

Please include Whitehall Road and also give us somewhere safe to cross.

20's Plenty for Us said...

The mainfinding of the DfT audit of the results of the 20 mph intiative in Portsmouth was how wrong previous guidance was in suggesting that 20 mph should not be used on roads with an average speed above 24 mph.

In Portsmouth the average speed on such >24 mph roads fell by 7 mph, thereby showing that much of the guidance falls apart when a whole community decides that "20's Plenty where people live" and implements an authority-wide scheme.

We must remember that when implemented on an authoity-wide basis with all the consequent pi8blic debate then a 20 mph limit has so much more crdibility than one imposed on a single roads by traffic engineers.

20's Plenty is the catalyst for a real change in the way that the pubic relates to the space between houses that we call roads.

Clearly councillors are closer to udnerstanding tho change than some traffic officials.

Go for it Jon and listen to the voice of the people.

Rod King
20's Plenty for Us

Alison said...

I walk up and down Greenway Bush Lane every week day, taking my kids to school at Ashton Gate Primary - which is at the bottom of Greenway Bush Lane. The traffic flies down this road, making road crossing on foot and bicycle extremely hazardous. It seems nonsensical to me that this road is being left out of the 20mph exclusion zone.

Ingrid S said...

I have just heard about roads that are going to be left out of the 20mph limit in my area and am writing here to support Jon Rogers in anything he can do to get them included. Locally speaking, I feel very strongly that Luckwell Rd, Smyth Rd and Duckmoor Rd HAVE to be included. There are terrible problems with speeding down these roads close to where I live and I really worry for road safety here, espcially for my and other children and older people (there is also a school on Luckwell rd). Equally, my children's school is on Greenway Bush lane and for the same reasons it would be crazy to leave this road out. In principle too I think that this approach would be wrong. It is RIDICULOUS to have speeds chopping and changing all over the place, even within one road!, and everyone will just ignore it. Be bold, change the speed for the whole area. Not everyone will follow it, but if they are behind someone who is, they will have to! This is how change begins... So I am pledging my support for anything that can be done.

Lloyd said...

Greenwaybush Lane and Ashton Road warrant inclusion in the 20mph zone simply because they carry much child and family traffic (walkers and cyclists) to and from school. And Ashton Gate Primary is actually on Greenwaybush Lane.

The argument that roads with average speeds above 24mph shouldn't have their speed limit reduced to 20mph strikes me as peculiar, if not illogical. In essence this argument seems to reduce to: drivers won't obey the 20mph limit on these roads without physical deterrent, therefore they should still be allowed to drive above 20mph.

That sort of defeatist attitude would also support the elimination of laws against burglary in areas with high levels of property crime!

Of course proper enforcement of the 20mph limit is essential; and I would have thought that having a unified zone, without exceptions scattered throughout, and therefore minimizing the unintentional shifting of rat-runs, would make for much more efficient enforcement, as well as clarity for motorists and lower costs over all.

--Lloyd Fletcher
Chair of Governors
Ashton Gate Primary School

Chris Hutt said...

There's an interesting synergy between the 20 mph proposals and the Council's aspirations to shut down some traffic lights.

For example in the east Bristol pilot area we have the junction of Whitehall Road and Chalks Road which is one of those selected by officers for consideration of a trial switch-off.

Clearly a 20 mph limit on all the approach roads would go a long way to mitigate the conflict that might arise if the lights were deactivated.

So that's another reason for including Whitehall Road and Chalks Road in the 20 mph coverage.

Adam said...

The lights are going to be swtiched off on Whitehall Rd, Chalks Rd junction? Really? What hope will we have of having anywhere left to cross the road if that happens. Isn't it already already hazardous enough? If cars regularly don't stop for pedestrians crossing (myself often with toddler / pushchair) on the zebra crossing on Whitehall Rd what hope is there that they will voluntarilly let people across on the junction without lights?

Chris Hutt said...

Adam, it's just an idea at present. Following on from the Evening Post campaign the officers have identified 6 sites where they could consider the possibility of a trial switch off and Whitehall Road - Chalks Road is one.

Personally I think they're going to find it difficult to overcome obvious objections, particularly on pedestrian safety, and I doubt if many of them will go through to a trial.

MJ Ray said...

BB asks "Surely we should all be able to agree on the facts?"

You might think that, but over in North Worle in Somerset, I'm having an irritating problem getting the ruling Conservative councillors or their officers to accept that they need any facts before installing dangerous slalom barriers as part of a "safety scheme". Neither council nor police has evidence of a safety problem that could be improved by those barriers, yet they've spent thousands installing them. It seems like an utter waste of money.

So I'm not hopeful that West of England councillors will make decisions based on road safety evidence rather than their own preferences, no.

Come on Bristol! Show North Somerset how it should be done!

keith hallett said...

I feel confident in Chris Hutt's pragmatic position....that

Give local people and the police a simple choice for each street - either (a) a notional 20 mph limit which will not be enforced or (b) a strict 30 mph limit which will be resolutely enforced.

I think you'll find that most motorists and the police in particular will much prefer the former.

And brilliant that Jon Rogers is plugging the issue.

Keith Hallett

Chris Hutt said...

Thanks for that endorsement Keith.

The underlying difference is that one (notional 20 mph) leaves people to exercise discretion and judgement about exactly what speed is appropriate in the particular circumstances while the other (strict 30 mph) treats people like idiots who cannot be trusted to make any judgements for themselves and have to be constantly regulated by the state.

This is a distinction that has already been recognised by Jon Rogers and others before him, notably in connection with the 'shared space' principle.

Of course some people (some cyclists and pedestrians as well as some motorists) are idiots and will ultimately have to be treated like criminals, but that approach cannot be applied to the generality of the population.

We must say 'look, we suggest that 20 mph is an appropriate speed in urban areas but please use your discretion and judgement and vary your speed as appropriate. You know as well as anyone that 20 mph is sometimes too fast and sometimes unnecessarily slow.'

I think most people will respond positively and constructively to that. There will have to be some 'education' alongside that and I think a shift in where responsibility is placed for avoiding collisions (towards those who create the danger).

The outcome will certainly not be perfect and there will always be conflict but I think it leads us towards more productive debate than just trying to blame one road user group or another (which I do too).

TonyD said...

The impression I get is that officers only want to put 20mph speed limits on roads where the average speed is already below 24mph. In other words, the calming is already largely in place because of the nature of the road as it is, and a 20mph sign is merely a badge of council approval of that rather than any real attempt to promote any further speed reductions.

The argument for excluding certain roads officially appears to be that 20mph signage on its own fails to have an impact in reducing speeds where average speeds are above 24mph (although I think somebody has mentioned that there appears to be evidence from Portsmouth that refutes this). However, I also suspect that putting up 20mph signs might cause some motorists to take alternative routes to avoid the 20mph zones if the zone is small enough to easily bypass. As a result cars that currently travel on roads where the nature of the road forces them to drive more slowly (i.e below 24mph) will divert on to roads where the nature of the road encourages them to drive faster (i.e above 24mph) making the roads excluded from the 20mph zone more dangerous then before.

A classic example of this is the decision to make one part of North Street 20mph but not the other. As a result there is likely to be an increase of traffic on the largely residential Luckwell Road (identified to be excluded) in turn flowing on to or from the largely residential Duckmoor Road (also excluded) as motorists avoid the North Street 20mph zone. In this instance, rather than serving as a restriction on road speeds, the 20mph signs will serve as a clear warning to motorists that this part of North Street will slow you down and thus you are better off driving down Luckwell Road where you will find it easier to drive faster (and thus more deadly in the event of an accident). There is, of course, a primary school on the corner of Luckwell Road and Duckmoor Road.

My personal opinion is that a 20mph zone should be just that - a 20mph zone not a series of small discrete areas with constant changes in road speed restrictions between them that will serve to confuse motorists and pedestrians alike and encourage a different form of rat running. You enter into the zone, it is clearly designated as a 20mph zone, if you exceed the speed you are liable to enforcement of the law (the chances of it being enforced is another matter), if you want to avoid driving at a 20mph speed limit don't go into the zone. If we find that 20mph signs on their own do fail to reduce the speeds being used on some roads then that should be the trigger to look at additional methods of reducing speeds on those particular roads - and if the Police fail to enforce the law then that should be highlighted as well - whereas at present traffic officers appear to be saying "signs alone won't work so lets do nothing".

I think that many motorists find themselves forced to travel at higher speeds than they are comfortable with by peer pressure but feel justified at setting the limit of their speed at whatever the maximum speed limit is for the stretch of road they are travelling on. If the maximum speed limit is 30mph they feel supported in not going beyond that limit despite White Man Van hanging off their exhaust, and if the limit was set at 20mph they would feel that they have official support in not going beyond that. Motorists like these are probably much more effective at controlling average road speeds than the Police are but need official encouragement whereas at the moment they appear to be marked as pariahs traitorous to the cause of getting from A to B 2 minutes quicker - how dare they see a 30mph sign as a maximum speed when we all know that in road-speak "maximum" means "minimum".

Anonymous said...

Agree with BB that the underlying problem seems to that officers are only considering current speed (presumably a measured average of some sort) and no other criteria. This is backed up by Jon's comment. This is outdated guidance, as Rod King points out, and in any case is a poor way to assess which roads to include. It may even increase speed and therefore danger when routes past schools are excluded.
Also, am I alone in thinking that the police should not have such influence over this? A democratic police force should enforce the law, not have a veto over change that they do not like. Did the officers meet and give equal weight to the views of road safety experts?

It appears Jon is not hopeful that the Cabinet will support him against the officers. That's bad for all of us - what happens with the pilot will follow throughout the city. Either we have something effective, evidence based (see rod King's comment) and brave, or a weak, half hearted simple signing of the side roads.
The cabinet have an opportunity to make the biggest impact on road safety and quality of life for pedestrians and cyclists for a generation. They were given a mandate to do this and promised they would run the council, not the officers, so I hope they will be brave enough to support Jon.
We will be better off lobbying the cabinet rather than councillors, who have no power in this saga (especially the buffoon Jon quotes on Church St). Hardly likely he or she will pass your comments on!

Steve Meek

Anonymous said...

....on reflection, I would like to amend that last paragraph to
'write to your councillors and Jon, but copy to as many other members of the cabinet as possible'.
Steve Meek

Anonymous said...

Can I add a plea to council officers to include all the East Bristol roads on the list? They're all places where a lower speed limit would save lives. However, I live near Whitehall Rd and it really is the worst of the lot - a uniquely dangerous combination of fast drivers, narrow road, tiny pavements, buses passing each other and high walls blocking escape routes for pedestrians if a car does stray onto the pavement. It's so dangerous that I avoid it, especially the bit between the end of Easton Rd and where it meets the cycle path, even at night when the alternative routes are much more mugger friendly.

Jon Rogers said...

To reassure you Steve, the Cabinet are fully supportive of my position, and share our aspirations for a more ambitious scheme.

There has also been support from many councillors, which has been really helpful.

Officers are revisiting their recommendations and we are looking at 20mph areas rather than individual streets.

SteveL said...

I am really pleased by Jon's actions. As someone who spends time in Portsmouth, I think their main-roads-30 plan was a mistake, as it not only said that roads by shops, schools, parks and the seafront should remain full speed, it introduces lots of confusion as to what speed of road you are on. Is it a 30? is it 20? Not only is it confusing, it gives a good defence.

Furthermore, as a pedestrian crossing roads to the side of a 30mph road, you are in trouble as cars turning in may be at speed, cars on the side road will be putting their foot down when they can see the 30 mph sign ahead. You are no better off than before.

The primary beneficiaries of this proposal will not be the cyclists, they will the pedestrians, especially children and their parents. We can make Bristol a better place to walk round.

Woodburner said...

Surely any road on a recognised "safe" route to school or cycle route should be included.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the reassurance about your cabinet colleagues Jon. Very pleased to see you are winning the argument with officers too. When can we expect a decision?
Steve Meek