20splentyforsheffield – letter to Sheffield Councilors – May 2014
Twenty’s Plenty For Sheffield is calling for funding for Total 20 – a default 20mph limit in residential areas to be prioritised and creatively explored, and for the council to publish a timetable for Total 20 in appropriate areas and streets by 2017.
Sheffield is at a crossroads. Our city is congested, our air seriously polluted. We need to make profound changes to the way we live, work and travel if we are to have a healthy city for our own and our children’s lifetime, and ensure we have a competitive economic advantage by reducing our reliance on fossil fueled transport.
Fear of traffic compromises our children’s educational and social attainment due to reduced independent mobility, and the costs of overcoming childhood obesity and premature elder care due to inactivity are having to be funded by taxpayers. Those who would like to get out and lead a healthier life find their anxieties in our street environment compromising their intentions and efforts.
Tragically, our road safety record is worsening, and more than half of road deaths and serious injuries occur on roads with 30 mph limits.
Britain has the highest percentage of pedestrian road fatalities in Europe (22.5%) yet one of the lowest levels of children walking or cycling to school in Europe. Sheffield parents consistently cite traffic speeds and danger as the main reason why their children are not allowed to cycle or walk to school.
20’s Plenty for Sheffield believes there is a solution. Lowering urban and residential speed limits to 20 mph has been found to decrease collisions with children and pedestrians by up to 70%, whilst increasing urban journey times by just 40 seconds maximum.
That’s why so much of the UK is adopting 20mph as the default speed limit in residential areas, and in places where the main business of the road – shopping, schools, leisure and work is around people.
In Portsmouth the 20mph limit on all residential roads has reduced casualties by 22%.
In Bristol walking and cycling increased significantly after wide 20 limits were implemented.
In London, Portsmouth, Newcastle, Leicester, Oxford, Hull, Bristol, Warrington, Liverpool, Manchester and many more towns, council officials are using the recent DfT Guidelines, and increasingly using monies from the public health budget, to introduce default 20 mph limits on appropriate streets. In National surveys 80% of the public and 75% of drivers support 20 mph as a speed limit on residential streets, and in places like Coventry wide 20mph areas have dramatically improved the experience for all road users.
Sheffield City Council adopted the principle of City wide 20mph in 2011.Cllrs need to provide vision and objectives and then look at how to fund. 20mph limits need to be seen as part of a phased and holistic plan that resets the social norm rather than prioritising on injury statistics or funding available. By taking the current area by area approach, the Council is going down a path that means it will take many years to cover the whole city and increase the costs of implementation by millions of pounds.
We would like to see the Council publish a timetable for a completed default 20 limit by 2017.
This doesn’t mean that all roads should be 20mph – on some of our urban streets a higher limit may be appropriate, but let’s do it on the basis of who is using the road, not whether it’s an ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ or “Distributor” road. Some of these roads are the very roads that children could walk or cycle to school on, or older people walk to the local shops.
It is time for our roads to be equitably shared with all users, implementing an appropriate speed limit that protects the young and the vulnerable, and makes our lovely city an even more attractive ‘Place’ to live and grow up in.
Streets where people live, work, shop and play should be 20mph. We call on Sheffield City Council to actively seek ways to speed up the 20mph program and publish a timetable to make all those streets safer for us by 2017.