Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Green Party call for 20mph streets

‘All of Wales should have a 20mph speed limit’ Oct 28 2008 by Steffan Rhys, Western Mail

ALL of Wales’ residential areas should have 20mph speed limits, it was claimed yesterday.

The Wales Green Party also said speed limits on town and city arterial roads should be reduced to just 30mph, as it claimed that new accident figures show England has cut accidents involving children far more than Wales.

New analysis of road casualty figures from the Department of Transport showed a 49% reduction in children killed or seriously injured in Wales between 1994 and 2007. However, this is compared to a much bigger reduction of 68% in England.

The Green Party analysis of the pedestrian casualties also shows they are much higher for areas with high levels of deprivation, many of which are urban areas with low levels of car ownership.

The UK wide statistics, analysed by deprivation score, show that the number of pedestrians killed or injured on the roads rises from 21 casualties per 100,000 people in the least deprived areas to 70 casualties per 100,000 people in the most deprived areas, more than a threefold increase for the poorest neighbourhoods.

Green Party supporters, Green councillors and campaign groups around Wales and the UK are now campaigning for 20 mph to become the default speed limit on residential roads in urban areas to reduce the number of deaths and injuries.

Wales Green Party european candidate, Cardiff- based Jake Griffiths, said Cardiff was an ideal candidate for 20mph zones followed by other towns and cities across Wales.

Swansea has pioneered the use of 20mph zones in Wales with dozens of roads outside schools having the 20mph limit but there are no blanket limits in Wales at the moment.

Mr Griffiths said: “Places in England and countries like Holland are showing that these zones work and people accept the limits, with police not having to have much intervention.”

A new survey by the Cardiff Green Party taking in the views of 300 residents in Canton, found 80% support for the introduction of 20mph speed limits in all residential areas.

Mr Griffiths, an environmental consultant, said : “The figures show that this is a social justice issue as well as a safety and environmental issue and that Wales is improving at a slower rate than England or Scotland.

“It is shocking that the number of pedestrians killed or injured is so much higher for the most deprived areas.

“The Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones is currently consulting on guidance on the implementation of slower speeds and could really make a difference by encouraging the introduction of 20mph in all residential areas – we urge him to take this opportunity.

“With a default 20mph speed limit, fewer road humps are needed than with limited ‘home zones’, and it is easier to communicate the message that 20mph is the appropriate speed on residential roads where children and people of all ages need to be able to walk about safely.

“Lower speed limits don’t just create safer streets for everyone, they also mean better air quality and lower carbon emissions as they encourage more people to walk and cycle.”

However, the RAC Foundation has called for caution over 20mph blanket zones.

Research development manager, Elizabeth Dainton, said recently that more research was needed before 20mph zones were comprehensively rolled out across the country. She said policy development should not speed ahead of understanding, local considerations and public acceptance.

The RAC Foundation’s paper she presented at a recent conference found that 95% of all pedestrian casualties and 92% of cyclist casualties were killed or injured on built up roads with speed limits under 40mph.

She said: “Speed is not the only factor which leads to these accidents as driver behaviour, which includes speed, is a factor in 26% of all accidents, whereas failing to look is the biggest cause of collisions [at 68%]. I therefore argue that driver training and education are as important as reducing speed when it comes to improving UK casualty figures.”