On March 4th, FACT attended the Local Engagement Forum where we submitted this question for discussion:
“Given the recent spate of road accidents in Faversham…..we would like to hear from the representatives as to how we can implement 20mph zones, a safe network of crossings and various other traffic calming measures…..”
Responses were gained from the following participants: Chief Inspector Henley of Swale Police, Councillors Wilcox, Cosgrove and Town Mayor and Councillor Kay and Bill Ronan, the Community Engagement Officer for Swale. Kent Highways did not attend.
Chief Inspector Henley was the first to speak. He asserted that as Kent Highways set the speed limits, this wasn’t strictly a Police matter. He admitted to being unprepared but gave several reasons why he thought it might be problematic, I’ve listed them here and our responses:
- Crash data statistics will not support the need for a 20mph speed limit
Crash data is not a fully reliable indication of how dangerous our roads are.
I attended the meeting with a list of personal injury crashes for the 5 year period up to 30.09.2014. This information was obtained for me by Gary Miller of the Green Party. The information originates from data collected by the Police when an injury road collision is reported to them. On analysing the data it became clear that there are no fatal accidents recorded in Faversham during this period, despite there having been at least two in recent years. This is because crash data only records the status of an incident at the roadside, if the individual dies at a later date as a result of his/her injuries, the data is not updated to reflect this. Decisions about where to improve and install crossings and traffic calming measures are being made on the basis of this data but the data isn’t reflecting the seriousness of all accidents.
- A 20 mph speed restriction would be difficult to enforce
20mph speed limits are very much self-enforcing with the proper support of the Police and the council. Community policing, accompanied by proper engagement and education with the public means that a 20mph limit can be enforced with a “light touch”. If a 20mph limit has support from the majority of the community, a culture shift would happen fairly soon and 20mph would become the norm for most people. This has already been implemented with great success in London, Liverpool, Oxford, Cambridge, York, Bath, Bristol, Edinburgh and Lancashire and many more places have already implemented or approved 20mph speed limits for their residential and shopping streets. In all of these places the national 30mph limit is seen as “no longer fit for purpose”.
- There were several concerns raised about the expense from various members of the forum.
20mph speed limits are relatively inexpensive to implement as they rely on effective and visible signage and require no physical change to the existing infrastructure. Furthermore:
A Council’s responsibilities are to fulfil its statutory duties, including road safety and aim to maximise the rate of return on any discretionary spending toward its priorities. The one-off cost of installing 20 mph limits without humps gives fantastic returns. Warrington reported a 800% (1:8) First Year Rate of Return (FYRR) on casualties avoided2 . Bristol found a 1:24 FYRR on the health benefits of more walking3 . Citations can be found here: Councils_Can_Afford_20mph_Limits (1)
Most tragically, recent years have seen fatalities on two of the existing crossings. This is simply unacceptable. Updating and installing new crossings and traffic islands does cost money but the lack of a cohesive and safe crossing network is proving to be fatal, compromising safety and health, as well as access to health centres, schools, nurseries and green spaces.
- We specifically asked why Faversham’s schools don’t have crossing assistants (Lollipop people) or flashing signs and speed humps, restricting motorists to 20mph, or designated safe crossing areas for parents and children?
The answer on the night was simply “we don’t know”. Yet parents regularly complain about traffic traveling at dangerously high speeds on roads near our schools and nurseries.
Bill Ronan was due to meet with local schools in the week following the forum and agreed to feed back his findings and any decisions made. His response is here.
At my recent meeting with elected representatives, Kent Police and KCC Highways we have agreed some remedial actions including re-marking enforcement lines at designated schools, and undertaking a targeted campaign of enforcement and traffic management. At this time, the schools being looked at are not within the centre of Faversham, but I have discussed with colleagues your concerns and request that we look at future initiatives.
Following this meeting, Councillor Mike Cosgrove and Town Mayor and councillor Nigel Kay have both publicly pledged to support a 20mph speed limit in Faversham.
Kent Highways were not at the meeting but I have had a response from them, which I will summarise in the next post.
This week has seen two further road accidents involving pedestrians. The most serious involved a 13-year-old boy, who sustained “life-changing” injuries and had to be air-lifted to Kings College hospital in London. (Faversham News, May 21st 2015) It is extremely upsetting to hear this news and we will continue campaign to campaign for safer crossings and traffic calming.
We need your support, start driving at 20mph, it will add a mere 40 seconds to your journey time and the benefits are immense. For info on journey times at 20mph check out 20s Plenty Myth Busting info.
I know that Faversham is a truly special place, as well as being beautiful and historic it is much-loved. It benefits from a strong and active community of residents, who are connected to each other and their local environment. They are passionate about what happens in the town and many work tirelessly to make it the best it can be.
If you want to get involved, please subscribe to this blog and send me your email, stating that you would like to help with the campaign.
Please also let me know;
- roads where traffic speed is an issue for you
- roads/junctions you find difficult to cross
- where you would like to see cycle paths and bike racks