Sheffield on the Move/Motorists Forum talk

Sheffield on the Move/Motorists Forum talk 03/10.04.2014.

Hello, my name is Richard Attwood, I’m a member of the ‘20splentyforsheffield’ campaign group, which is affiliated to the ‘20’splentyforus’ organization, the National campaign group promoting the value of lower speeds where people Live, Work, Shop and Play.

 So what’s it all about? In some ways Sheffield is at a crossroads.

In my experience driving in Sheffield has become increasingly stressful, competing for space on congested roads, umpteen signs saying do this/don’t do that, cyclists and pedestrians all over the place, cameras, humps and chicanes to negotiate, trying to get a parking space and so on.

Sheffield council (SCC) wants to improve this and has a “Vision is for excellent transport in Sheffield” – the stated aim is to empower people to make informed choices about the way they travel, with a Transport policy that contributes to the social, economic and environmental improvements we want for this city, thus creating:

•       Increased opportunities for everybody

•       A competitive low-carbon economy

•       A better environment

•       A healthier population

•       A culture where the car is not always the first choice

Laudable aims, however right now our city is congested and air pollution is worsening. Public health is worsening, public health budgets are being cut whilst levels of obesity and heart disease are rising. Climate change is here, and we must make profound changes to the way we live, work and travel if we are to pass healthy cities to our own children.

 It’s about a Modal shift for personal and societal health:

The Government’s chief medical adviser, Councils (eg SCC’s  ‘Fairness Commission’ report) and umpteen various bodies have produced evidence papers and guidelines saying we need a Modal Shift in our Travel Choices.

Around two thirds of UK journeys under five miles are made by car, compromising our health, our environment and our communities.

 ‘Active Travel’ on the other hand, be it using our feet or our cycles and/or public transport, means we build health giving and social exercise into our everyday lives, rather than maybe driving to an expensive Gym.

People who are active have significantly lower risk of physical problems such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes and also mental illnesses such as Anxiety and Depression are reduced. (This author’s own high Blood Pressure/Cholesterol levels were reduced by adopting cycle commuting, avoiding the need for medication.)

So why don’t more of us do this, and encourage our children too?

 It’s about Choice: People tell you the reason they don’t choose healthier travel modes is Fear, people get anxious for themselves and for their children around speeding vehicles.

Fear of traffic keeps children and old people shut up at home while those who would like to get out and lead a healthier life find that their anxieties in our street environment stop them from doing so. Tragically, our road safety record is now worsening, and more than half of road deaths and serious injuries, mainly children, occur on roads with 30 mph limits.

Britain has the highest percentage of pedestrian road fatalities in Europe (22.5%) and one of the lowest levels of children walking or cycling to school. Sheffield parents consistently cite traffic speed as the main reason why they drive children to school, rather than letting them walk or cycle.

 20’s Plenty for Sheffield believes there is a solution: Lowering urban and residential speed limits to 20 mph has been found to decrease child pedestrian accidents by up to 70%, whilst increasing urban journeys by just 40 seconds maximum. In Portsmouth the 20mph limit on all residential roads has reduced casualties by 22%. In Bristol walking and cycling increased significantly. That’s why so much of the UK is adopting 20mph as the default speed limit in residential areas, and places where the main business of the road; shopping, schools, leisure and work, is around people and their movements, rather than vehicles.

It’s about ‘Place’: In cities like London, Portsmouth, Newcastle, Hull, Leicester, Oxford, Bristol, Manchester and Warrington, council officials are using the recent DfT Guidelines, and now monies from the public health budget, to introduce blanket 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. In Friday rush hour traffic in Coventry this author witnessed:

  • More and safer people using a more inviting/relaxed city centre.
  • Vehicles queues reduced or eliminated as flow improves.
  • Improved parking provision for motorists.
  • Taxis and buses moving easily (contrary to their initial fears)
  • People in vehicles/on foot/cycles interacting calmly for shared space.
  • Not one angry car horn blast!!

As a result Coventry is finding satisfaction and retail confidence is up.

Better public realm and streets where traffic is perceived as less threatening are seen as more attractive to investors, having greater ‘footfall’ as people get out and about, spending their money locally, facilitating a more resilient local economy.

 It’s about road use: It doesn’t mean that all roads should be 20mph.

We need to decide speeds on the basis of how the road is used, not whether it’s a ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ or a “distributor” road. Some of these roads are the very roads that children could walk or cycle to school on, or older people use to walk to the local shops in comfort and safety.

It is time for appropriate roads to be equitably shared with all users, setting an appropriate speed limit that protects the young and the vulnerable. Streets where people concentrate to Live, Work, Shop and Play should be 20mph – it’s as simple as that.

It’s about Culture shift: implementing a 20 mph limit requires an active public education campaign, consultation, signage, and/or road markings, changing traffic regulation orders through advertising in local media plus local authority officer time, and the move to considerate and calm driving will take time to become established as a social norm, just as initiatives such as seat belts and the indoor smoking ban took years of education and culture shift before they became custom and practice. But like lower speeds the benefits are clear.

‘Light touch’ (ie normal) policing can enforce 20 limits in the usual manner. ACPO now says that where drivers are regularly and wilfully breaking the law ‘we would expect that officers will enforce the limit and prosecute offenders speeding over 24mph.’

It’s about Taking the 20 Challenge! Try sticking to 20mph as you drive the new 20mph roads, and in doing so you may notice two things:

Personally I became aware that I really could stop quickly if I needed to, avoiding the stress and potential tragedy of a collision, rather than my usual ‘hoping I don’t have to try’ approach when I travel at 30mph.

I also noticed that I invariably end up at the next junction or queue in pretty much the same manner as before, with the same vehicle in front of me, regardless of its speed down the same stretch of road in the interim.

As a 20 driver I am less stressed, use less fuel, feel safer, and I know that I am having much less impact on my neighbourhood, increasing the chances that others will feel safe enough to begin making healthier travel choices for themselves and their children. I’ve noticed too that all these benefits come at little or no cost to my journey time.

It’s about talking to your Councillors:

Councillors set speeds and are required to do what’s best for us.

Ask your councillors to push for lower speeds and safer, more people friendly streets where you and your family live, work, shop and play, aand do so sooner rather than later. Sheffield City Council has had 20mph ‘zones’ for years, and adopted the principle of city wide 20mph in 2011, but progress implementing it is too slow. By taking an area by area approach over 10+ years, our Council is going down a path that denies the many benefits of lower speeds to many Sheffielders, confuses drivers, and increases the costs of implementation by at least double SCC’s 2012 cost estimate of £3m for whole city implementation.

It’s about us all pushing for 20mph across Sheffield by 2020! 

Team Hillsborough Letter to Clr Leigh Bramhall – March 2014

Letter from Team Hillsborough to Leigh Bramhall & Jack Scott received by 20s plenty for Sheffield.

Consideration of wider 20 mph zones to cover the Hillsborough area

I write following a meeting of Team Hillsborough to ask you to consider the potential positive impact wider a 20 mph scheme across the whole of Hillsborough could have on the safety, usability of local facilities, health, transport use and other improvements in the area.

We were advised of the wider “20 is plenty” campaign, and we recognise that at the present time it is very difficult to even consider asking the Council to put more onto its agenda.

However, we think there could be positive benefits in a medium-term consideration of the potential impact and benefits, and would like to make the following points:

1. The planned road-works renewals in a couple of years time in the Hillsborough area, by Amey, would provide a good opportunity for a general improvement of the current confused and multiple speed limits across the area;

2. The costs of a single broader scheme would appear to be less that the cost of the considerable number of micro-schemes, on the evidence of some other cities, hopefully resulting in a reduction in cost to the Council;

3. We believe that the impact of such a scheme on the usability of the Hillsborough shopping area, its affect on the residential areas, and other benefits would assist a positive improvement in the regeneration of Hillsborough, and could be part of any Business Improvement District proposal that emerges in the coming months;

4. We recognise there might be a concern that it might be felt to need more police enforcement, but it is suggested in the group also that most people take account of the limits, and that community consent would be a positive step in the right direction, even without increased policing.

We would like to assure you that we understand that Team Hillsborough has no formal representative role, and we recognise that there are many interests involved in such a move. We understand that such a proposal would need consultation, a policy change on the part of the Council, and the integration of such a plan across other local initiatives.

But we would like to ask you to consider how the proposal might assist the overall improvement of an area that feels a bit “left out” in the regeneration stakes.

Thank you

Team Hillsborough

20mph Conference – ‘Time for 20′ Tues 18th February 2014 – Camden Town Hall, London

The 5th National 20mph conference focuses on how to roll out limits.
It features speakers on signage rules, cases studies of implementations to improve the public realm, healthy lifestyles and reduce casualties. Learn from leading UK experts and the first authorities to implement wide 20mph on how to get it right.

With so many of the UK’s iconic cities and places implementing 20mph limits for most of their residential and urban streets then our ‘Time for 20’ conference explores how the UK is effectively in transition to a national limit of 20mph for restricted road. The conference will look at key local and national issues for local authorities and organisations :-

    • Is the 30mph blanket approach to residential and urban speed limits so compromised that it should be changed to 20mph?
    • What relaxations on signage are expected in the new changes to the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions and how can this substantially reduce signage costs?
    • How is Public Health changing the whole approach to managing our urban streets?
    • What is the experience of local authorities who are implementing wide area 20mph limits?
    • What is the consensus from national organisations representing local authorities?
    • What case studies provide insight into developing best practice on 20mph roll-out?
    • What ways are available to maximise compliance?

Chaired by Rod King MBE Founder/Director of 20’s Plenty for Us, the morning comprises Graham Hanson from the DfT on signage, a video with the Under Secretary Robert Goodwill MP and Iain Simmons from City of London/LoTAG. Also case studies including Camden with Cllr Phil Jones plus others from around the UK. The afternoon includes a presentation on the back office workings of enforcement and workshops on consultation and engagement, improving cost effectiveness and best practice in implementing 20mph limits .

Who is it for? Highways, safety and public health officers, Local Councillors, police and campaigners

Where? Camden Town Hall, London

“Once a local authority fully considers all road users the only sensible solution is that 20’s plenty where people live, work, shop, learn, walk and cycle. This conference shows them how best to achieve that and also puts it into the context of a developing national debate on what is best for our communities.”

Rod King – 20’s Plenty for Us

The event is run by 20’s Plenty for Us and Landor.

Get more details or book via

Letter in the Local Press

This was featured in the Sheffield Star on-line, and a modified version was the main letter in the print version of the Sheffield Telegraph.

In March 2012 Sheffield City Council, rightly convinced of the benefits for all road users, residents and shopkeepers of lower speeds where people live, endorsed a strategy for the introduction of 20mph speed limits across appropriate areas of our city.

As an affordable start to this process, 14,000 households in seven areas of Sheffield were recently consulted to see if they wanted 20mph zones in their area.

Having received only a handful of objections, our council, like an increasing number in the UK, decided to go ahead, and the signs are going up now.

These are legal limits, just like 30mph ones, so I have been sticking to 20mph as I drive down Crookesmoor Road, and in doing so I have noticed two things.

Firstly, I’ve become aware that I really could stop quickly if I needed to, avoiding the stress and potential tragedy of a collision, rather than my usual ‘hoping I don’t have to try’ approach when I travel at 30mph.

Secondly, I’ve also noticed that I invariably end up at the next junction or queue in pretty much the same manner as before, with the same vehicle in front of me, regardless of the speed it’s been driven.

So for me taking the 20mph challenge has been worthwhile. As a driver I am less stressed, use less fuel, feel safer, and having less impact on my neighbourhood. www.20



Talk to Sheffield 50+ group 17.12.2013 – Brief report

Talk to Sheffield 50+ group 17.12.2013 – Brief report

A select but interested and welcoming number of what is a large community group turned out to hear me give a resume of the current 20mph situation in Sheffield.
I also stated why we as a group would wish for the rollout of 20 limits to be modified and accelerated and a more assertive approach taken to promoting the purpose and value of lower limits in Sheffield.

The members present were in favour of lower speeds, being very clear about the cost to their mental wellbeing of speeding motorists, but raised Enforcement as a particular concern. I was at pains to draw parallels with the sort of cultural and behaviour changes we saw re Drink/Drive, Seat belts, Smoking etc, as well as clarifying the latest Police guidance re active enforcement above 24mph.

One aspect of speeding that usefully received closer discussion was stopping distances – it helps to focus our thinking when you consider that the point at which a driver travelling at 20mph has completed an emergency stop, the 30 mph driver has only just applied the brakes and needs the same distance again to stop, and the 40mph driver hasn’t even hit the brake pedal!

On reflection, an aspect I would have liked to have given more time to was PLACE – that is the many societal and economic benefits to communities of speed reduction, in addition to the more numerical outcomes around safety etc.

A group member took notes which should be circulated to their members via their own news bulletin & their regular column in the Mercury freebee available at supermarkets, etc. and overall it felt useful to be widening the debate to more than just cyclists, who have taken a lead thus far eg. To the elderly & infirm, parents with toddlers & school-kids, etc, all of whom have powerful voices.

Richard Attwood/ Alan Kewley. –

December Round Up

Quite a lot has been going on over the last few weeks so a quick round up before Christmas.

The installation of the 20mph area around Steel Bank has now started . In reality this new limit covers a considerable area from East Crookes, the Edge of Walkley, Crookesmoor and all the way to the edge of Broomhill

More details on

Anna Semlyen from the national campaign attended a meeting of the Labour group at the council on the 9th December. An update to follow

Richard met with the Sheffield 50 plus focus group on 17th December. The discussion was well received. The enforcement of the new limits was the chief concern raised.

Richard had a letter about driving within the new limits featured in both the on-line and print versions of the Sheffield Star / Sheffield Telegraph. The print version of the letter, slightly modified, appeared as the star letter in the Sheffield Telegraph in the run up to Christmas.