space4cycling (5/6) speed reduction

You can discuss this article below. What do you think? Give us your local example and what changes you’d like to see.

This story is part of our space4cycling series.

We generally support any speed reduction as it reduces road risk and severity of damage and injury. We particularly support reduction to 20mph. Roughly speaking, the tipping point for the chances of a pedestrian or cyclist to survive a road crash is at 20mph. Speed kills. Here is what our partner organisations have to say about speed reduction.

Road Peace says slower speeds are essential for road danger reduction, which is needed for reducing casualties, shifting to more active and environmentally friendly travel modes, and reclaiming our neighbourhoods for outdoor play and social interaction. Slower speeds are vital to our health – physically, mentally and socially – and that of our planet. Vehicle speed affects more than just travel time. Other impacts that broadly increase with speed include the physical threat to others sharing the immediate road environment, pollution (particulates and NOx) affecting air quality and noise levels that impact on the wider neighbourhood, and level of CO2 that contribute to global warming. Society needs to set and enforce appropriate speed limits. These must balance the interests of those inside and outside the vehicle. Only then will we enjoy mobility without sacrificing our lives, our health or the quality of our environment. Source

And 20’s Plenty for Us puts it like this. With Manchester, Birmingham and City of London joining many of the UK’s other iconic cities Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Bristol, Lancaster, York, Brighton and many London Boroughs, there are now over 12million people living where a 20mph limit is agreed for most lit streets. [In cities where] most roads are set at 20mph, we say sign the few staying at 30mph! More than half of road deaths and serious injuries occur on roads with 30mph limits (Transport Statistics for Great Britain). Britain has the highest percentage of pedestrian road fatalities in Europe 22.5% (EU European Road Safety Observatory). Britain has one of the lowest levels of children walking or cycling to school in Europe. British parents consistently cite traffic speed as the main reason why their children are not allowed to cycle or walk to school. Lowering urban and residential speed limits to 20mph has been found to increase a urban journeys by just 40 seconds maximum. Source

So, by reducing the speed, the street becomes safer for people, and more cycleable. Possibly that’s even the case without dedicated cycle space: installation of cycle infrastructure is not required when actual speeds have been lowered sufficiently. The decision to provide cycle infrastructure is a risk-based one, and depends on traffic volume and speed (as mentioned in Part 1).

Of course, we acknowledge that Newcastle is a 20mph city, but we believe that this conversion is far from complete, read more here.

For the city centre we’d like the 20 mph zone to expand beyond the inner distributor ring road where it currently ends and increases to 30mph. Inner city roads like Grey Street, Grainger Street and Pilgrim Street’s south end should all be made 20mph. The informal pedestrian zone (where people have naturally reclaimed space) extends beyond the inner distributor road and it is time to discuss a different space allocation altogether.

We would like to see an even more pragmatic approach to speed zoning (blanket 20mph), particularly in neighbourhoods. This should be combined with neighbourhood zones, installation of clear gateways – we explained this approach in Part 3. This should be done by using design-led solutions, and not just signs and speed humps, but road re-alignment, reduction of roadspace with more space for cycling and walking.

Rat-runs (through roads where speeding takes place) should be identified and speeding prevented, possibly by design measures. To help that process, council may like to think whether communities could get involved through speed watch initiatives or similar community-based activities.

Here’s the streets and roads in the city centre with outstanding speed reduction
Blue – 20mph
Red – 30mph

Newcastle city centre speed limits