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Speed limits and Shared Space schemes
22 Jul 2013 22:25 #85

David Hughes David Hughes's Avatar Topic Author

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A bit like smoking bans in public places 20 mph speed limits divide opinion, but rising awareness of the benefits to the quality of family life do seem to be increasing the level of support. Indeed, several, mainly central London boroughs, have already taken the plunge for all their purely residential streets and for social areas (mainly high streets) on through roads.

Enfield on the other hand is hesitant, by and large limiting its endeavours to areas around schools as if only children can benefit from a safer, more congenial environment.

But now – according to the Evening Standard – Boris Johnson’s Roads Taskforce is suggesting that 20mph could realistically be applied to all purely residential streets and social areas on through roads within the M25 by the end of the decade. It looks as if this is something everyone in the Palmers Green area is going to have to think about.

Personally I think the advantages are significant over and above safety concerns and the outcomes of injury:

• increased 'liveability' of streets for all the family;
• enhanced social contacts and community cohesion;
• greater democracy of travel (it’s easier for pedestrians to follow their most convenient route rather than detour to avoid speed, and for people to choose to cycle);
• fairness for older people and people with mobility/sight disabilities who currently have to detour to pedestrian crossings to ensure safety;
• better for children who could have their independence back
• less need for pedestrian crossings and traffic lights leading to better air quality, smoother journeys, time compensation for slower speeds – journey times are not usually longer for this sort of reason;
• a healthier and less obese society because more people would choose to cycle or walk, and
• less street clutter.

You might want to debate a move towards 20mph limits because, although a decision about most streets and roads in a borough lies with the council, London’s mayor could incentivise the process by the use of funds. As the Deputy Mayor for Transport is quoted as saying: “It could be realistic by 2020. It could be one of these things like smoking (in public places) where suddenly we get to the stage where we can’t believe it would ever have been OK to drive above 20mph.”. Amen to that.

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