Burnout Paradise: Lewisham sticks with 30mph

In March, Islington will introduce 20mph speed limits to all of its main roads. Greenwich and Hackney are doing likewise. The aim is to reduce the number of people killed on London's roads each year.

The Economist says:

Slower roads appear to be safer. A paper published in the British Medical Journal looking at accident data from 1986 to 2006 gave London’s 20mph zones credit for a reduction in casualties by 42%. Accidents that do happen at slower speeds are less harmful: the Transport Research Laboratory found that approximately 98% of pedestrians will survive a 20mph collision. Their chances drop to around 93% at 30mph and 69% at 40mph.

Lewisham recently turned down a suggestion by Cllr Darren Johnson that the borough introduce a 20mph limit to Lewisham's main roads on the grounds that such a limit would be practically unenforceable. The question is, whether limits work without enforcement - whether it's enough just to tell people to slow down? As the Economist reports, the average road speed in Portsmouth dropped by 1.3 mph as a result of the new rules. Given that an unenforced scheme costs little, is a small drop like this a success or a failure?

If you spend most of the time crawling through London in a car anyway, having to stick to 20mph when you hit relatively open roads is maddening. But faced with the road death statistics, it's hard to argue against a lower limit.

5 comments:

Darryl said...

Greenwich is only implementing 20mph on residential roads, as far as I gather. Happy to be corrected on that if I'm wrong, though.


The main arteries - A2, A20, A21, A205 - are TfL roads so the boroughs have no jurisdiction over those.

Anon said...

In the future rather than have more speed signs and relying on drivers to reduce their speed accordingly, car eninges will be manufactured that are controlled by a GPS system that automatically adjusts the maximum speed of a car as it travels certain roads.  

Peter said...

 Won't take long for that to get hacked!

Max Calò said...

I thought Lewisham was one of the first to introduce some 20 mph areas a few years ago. I think as pilot scheme that was statistically analyzed and found to be reducing accidents.

Headhunter said...

I cycle around Lewisham at around 20ish mph and can confirm that most cars pass me when I am travelling at that speed on side roads where the limit is already 20mph, so I can vouch that 20mph limits are definitely unenforced and generally ignored by most motorists.  

As you walk or cycle up and down roads in Telegraph Hill I notice that every car that passes sets off the illuminated signs to inform the driver that he or she is travelling at more than 20mph....  

I don't see much point in bringing in further 20mph limits when motorists routinely ignore the ones already in place....

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