The UK is going 20mph – should Kinver consider it too?

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More and more towns and villages are opting for 20mph limits throughout their residential districts – around a third of us now live in places where 20mph is the new normal.

Would a wider 20 mph limit be good for Kinver?

We are a working group who have got together to investigate.  This is a joint initiative between the Parish Council and the Kinver Eco Collective and our Terms of Reference are here.

We’re keen to collect experience and views from local people to help us – there’s a questionnaire here and we’ve put together some information on this website about 20mph limits to help you know more about them.

You can also email us your thoughts on 20sPlenty@kinvereco.org.uk

Source: LivingStreets.org.uk

If Kinver people decide that a wider 20 limit would be a good idea, we will develop a detailed plan, and work with other organisations to make it happen. We are already talking to Highways at Staffordshire County Council, who would have to approve any changes to speed limits.

Where can we see 20 limits in place?

20 limits in built up areas are rapidly becoming the norm in the UK (and elsewhere).  More than half of the largest local authorities have now put them in place.

Map of places where a default 20 limit is in place or coming (circles, plus all of Wales) and campaign groups (hearts).

Source: 20splenty.org/local_campaigns  

London 20 mph limit areas, (green) as of September 2021. 

Source: Transport for London.

Large parts of Birmingham, most of central London, villages throughout North Cheshire, Bristol and many more have implemented 20 limits or are about to do so. 

20 mph limits in Selly Oak, Birmingham. Source: Google Street View

Wales is currently piloting default 20 mph in built up areas, unless an exception is shown to be justified.  The law change is planned to come into effect 2023 and most roads in built-up areas will become 20mph.

So there is plenty of experience to learn from, and plenty of places where we can see for ourselves how it works in practice.

What’s the difference between a 20 limit and a 20 Zone?

Kinver has a 20 Zone in the High Street.  20 mph Zones use physical features such as speed bumps, pinch points and special road surfaces.  They are usually quite small, e.g. just the High Street.

A 20 limit is much simpler – it’s a normal speed limit.

20 mph limits are proving to be more cost-effective in increasing safety than 20 mph zones with physical traffic calming, so they are now favoured by many local authorities.

If more of Kinver becomes 20mph it would incorporate the existing 20mph zone in the High Street. This could enable a review of the need for traffic calming (eg pinch points).

How do people feel about 20 limits?

Surveys consistently show that most people actually support lower speed limits, although people often think they’re unpopular!

A recent review of a number of 20 mph schemes found that after the implementation of 20 mph, the majority of residents (75%) felt that 20mph was an appropriate speed for the area, and very few people wanted to change back to 30 mph.  Cyclists were even more supportive (81%).

Support for schemes usually increases once they are implemented.  People say it feels safer for children, walking and cycling.

Concerns expressed before scheme implementation have included ensuring that major through routes retain higher speed limits; the risk of increase in traffic on alternative routes; and increased journey times.  Good scheme design was found to be central to how schemes were viewed by local people.

Do 20 mph limits make streets safer?

All the evidence agrees that 20 mph limits are effective in reducing speeds and improving safety.

20 mph limits reduce speed

The higher the previous speed, the greater the impact of reducing the speed limit.

A recent large-scale trial of 20mph limits in 91 towns and villages in Scotland showed that the number of cars travelling above 30 mph fell sharply after the speed limit was reduced from 30 mph (red) to 20 mph (green) – and biggest reductions were on roads where initial speeds were greatest. The scheme is now going permanent.

Speeds are reduced most on roads which previously had the fastest traffic.  (The dotted blue line represents the threshold speed for enforcement action on a 20 mph limit).

Graph by A Berendt.

These reductions are greater and more consistent than the earliest studies showed, perhaps as a result of the greater area involved enabling people to get used to the new limit. In this respect, government advice is out of date. (Department for Transport advice dates from 2012, and recent evidence shows greater effectiveness)

Reducing speed reduces the number and severity of collisions and casualties

Just a 1 mph reduction in speed means 6% fewer collisions

And:  1 mph slower means a 6% reduction in serious injury risk for a pedestrian

Speed reduction particularly protects the most vulnerable – children and the elderly, pedestrians, cyclists.

In the distance a 20mph car can stop, a 30mph car will still be moving at 24mph.

Or to put it another way: the effect of a collision at 30 mph is like falling out of a 3rd floor window; at 20, it’s like falling from the 1st floor:

Most accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists occur in built up areas.

Over 75% of all injury accidents are on urban roads . The figures are worse for the most vulnerable road users:  87% of all pedestrian and 83% of all pedal cyclists injuries are in built-up areas.  The reason is simple – that’s where most people are.  So increasing safety in our residential areas matters.

Although injury accidents are rare, they are hugely expensive – in treatment, policing, loss of earnings and so on – and have a massive effect on the person injured.

And for each injury accident, there are many more minor accidents, each of which costs someone time or money.  When you add it all together, the payback time for most 20mph schemes is estimated as under 2 years!

Wider benefits of 20 limits

Wider Benefits

The benefits of lower speeds are potentially much more than road safety.  Benefits experienced by local people include:

  • People take precedence over cars – places feel more relaxed
  • More walking and cycling, improving people’s health
  • Better ‘liveability’– stronger communities
  • Places are more attractive to visit, helping businesses
  • Less noise,
  • Better air quality
  • Lower CO2 emissions per vehicle mile

Any downsides to 20mph

Longer journey times?

It might seem as if a change from a 30 to a 20 limit would increase travel times by 50%.  Does it?  Try it yourself the next time you’re driving through, and let us know what you find.

Our experience so far is that driving as if a 20mph limit were in place increases travel time to the shops by less than half a minute, on average, ie somewhere between 10 and 25% depending on conditions.

The reason the effect is smaller is because we can’t travel at 30 mph all the time – there are junctions, parked cars and other hazards to negotiate and of course there’s the existing 20mph zone in the High Street.

Kinver info on road safety and traffic speeds

Kinver currently has a 20 zone along the High Street, with associated pinch points.

Safety issues:

At the Eco Fair in Kinver in November 2019, residents were asked to mark areas of safety concern on this map:

Areas highlighted were all throughout the village, including Potter’s Cross and the entry to Brindley School and the High Schools; near Foley Infant School; the top of Meddins Lane near the Rock Houses parking; and along the High Street/Mill Lane core route.

Do you agree these are the areas where road safety is a problem?  Please let us know what you think in the questionnaire.

Accident data

The 10 year data for injury collisions in Kinver which has been supplied by Staffordshire County Council (below) shows hotspots on Enville Road and especially Potter’s Cross; Dunsley Road between the A449 and Kinver; the High Street and Church Hill.

Of the 27 casualties recorded, 4 were serious, 5 were cyclists and 4 pedestrians.

Accidents involving serious injury are fortunately rare. But minor accidents are more common, and still inflict fright and distress, cost, lost earnings, and other impacts.  Nationally, for each death or serious injury, there are almost 4 accidents involving minor injury; and about 75 damage-only accidents.  Damage-only accidents don’t get included in most statistics such as those mapped below, but they do affect quality of life.

Source:  DfT https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/reported-road-accidents-vehicles-and-casualties-tables-for-great-britain

Traffic Speeds

We have analysed data on existing traffic speeds collected by the Ordnance Survey from in-car GPS devices:

This shows that average speeds are between 25 and 30 on most of the major routes through Kinver village, but generally below 20 on side roads.  This suggests that speeds are more of a problem on the main roads, but what do you think?  Please tell us.

Average speed doesn’t tell the whole story though. Data collected in Kinver by the Parish Council’s speed equipment show that at an average speed of 30 mph, about 15% of people will be driving above 36 mph. At an average of 20, 15% will be going faster than 25 mph.  One of the main aims of a lower limit is to bring these top speeds down – and evidence indicates that it would do this effectively.

Source: Kinver Parish Council

What’s the official policy on 20 limits?

National Policy

Government guidance has promoted 20 mph limits since 2013, and this support was increased during Covid 19.  The DfT’s guidelines on the setting of local speed limits  says Traffic authorities are asked to…consider the introduction of more 20 mph limits and zones, over time, in urban areas and built-up village streets that are primarily residential, to ensure greater safety for pedestrians and cyclists…

The government also supports Active Travel   – which means leaving the car at home when you can walk or cycle.  Safer roads are obviously a factor in encouraging people to walk and cycle more.

In July 2021 Department for Transport published new guidance to local authorities on their traffic management duties.  This states that local authorities should ‘swiftly’ take measures to encourage more walking and cycling which include: ‘Reducing speed limits: 20mph speed limits are being more widely adopted as an appropriate speed limit for residential roads, and many through streets in built-up areas.’

Policy in Staffordshire

Staffordshire County Council has indicated that they would introduce 20mph speed limits in places where there is local support.  At present no dedicated funding has been assigned, but we are talking to Highways, and are hopeful of making the case if local people like the idea.

How are 20 limits enforced?

20mph limits are enforceable, just like any other legal limit. Many police forces including West Midlands Police do enforce the limits – there’s no rule against it.  However, the aim is that the limit should become ‘normal’ and not routinely require strong enforcement.

20 mph limits do reduce speeds even without policing.

If locals go at 20, those following also do – and so the habit changes. Some use signs like this in the back window to remind those following that locals support the limit.

Technology can help, e.g.

    • Road speed indicators  (like the ones Kinver has)
    • in-car ‘intelligent speed’ systems

Compliance tends to increase over time, as 20 becomes the ‘new normal’.

Thanks for reading all the way to here – we’re impressed!  Why not send us your thoughts via the questionnaire.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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