Monday, 21 January 2008

Speed limits unchanged one year on

Despite supporting the introduction of a district-wide speed limit on residential roads early last year, little seems to have been done to implement it by local politicians.

Last January, a joint committee of County and City councillors (Lancashire Locals-Lancaster) debated a proposal from Green councillors to adopt a 20mph speed limit on every residential road in Lancaster, Morecambe and Heysham. The proposal was amended by Labour councillors and passed unanimously -- and all councillors from all political parties agreed to the 20mph limit.

It is now one year since that decision was taken and Lancashire County Council has done nothing to put it into practice and nothing to put it out to public consultation.

“The County Council has shown that it cares nothing for local democracy and even less for the safety and welfare of thousands of children and elderly people who are exposed to traffic danger on a daily basis in this district," feels City councillor John Whitelegg, also an internationally-regarded expert in transport matters. " So today, I've sent a birthday card to County Councillor Hazel Harding (leader of the County Council) reminding her that this decision is one year old and that we are still waiting for action”.

There are currently around 3,200 road deaths annually in the UK, compared with more than 7,000 a year in the 1960s.

Last November, the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (Pacts) issued a report arguing that reducing speed limits in towns would help save lives. A survey by the Transport Research Laboratory of 20mph zones across the UK and in other European countries found child road accidents fell by 67%, cyclist accidents by 29% and traffic flow by 27%. The report claimed a default speed of 20mph in built-up areas would help halve the number of deaths on Britain's roads within the next few years.

The "Beyond 2010" report also called for greater enforcement of 20mph zones through a new generation of speed cameras.

Robert Gifford, executive director of Pacts, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that reducing speed limits in towns would help save lives with lower speed limits leading to fewer people being killed or injured as well as environmental benefits.

Response to the report was mixed with some arguing better road design and less regulation but better driver education would have better results than imposing more speed regulation.

No comments: