Wandsworth Environment Forum: Aide memoire for 20mph Speed Limit in the Borough

Author: Robert Molteno, Secretary

Aide Memoire for Cllr. Ravi Govindia, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning & Transportation

Prepared by Wandsworth Environment Forum

What Wandsworth Environment Forum (WEF) is asking for:

A review of the existing standard borough speed limit of 30 mph with a view to reducing it to 20mph in the borough’s residential and shopping streets

WEF is making this request with the support of the local amenity societies – Battersea, Putney and Wandsworth —  in the Borough (with a combined membership approaching 2,000 paid up members); the Wandsworth Cycling Campaign (over 700 members); and other local groups represented on the Wandsworth Environment Forum which have consulted their memberships on this issue.

We request the Council to set up a small Working Group comprising interested Councillors from the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committees, plus community representatives from the amenity societies, the Wandsworth Environment Forum (WEF) etc.

We are taking this initiative in the spirit of the kind of active citizens’ engagement with, and taking responsibility alongside, local Councils that the Coalition Government generally, and the Prime Minister in particular, is encouraging. With this in mind, Wandsworth Environment Forum would offer its practical support to the work of the Working Group. This support would take the form of individuals from the community serving on it, and WEF members providing relevant factual information at the request of the Working Group.

While you will of course want to discuss the details of the idea with us further at a subsequent meeting, including the composition and remit of this Working Group, we would see it as operating broadly on the following basis:

  • Able to request Officers to provide information to, and limited servicing of, the Working Group;
  • Mandated to investigate and report to the Council, and the wider Wandsworth community, on the issue of reducing the standard speed limit on borough roads. The kinds of questions it should explore could include:

1.      How many roads in Wandsworth already have a 20mph speed limit:

a.      Whole of the road

b.      Part of the road

c.      What percentage of these speed limit restrictions relate to schools, compared to other considerations (e.g. local residents’ requests)

2.      A review of what evidence exists from the Borough’s existing 20mph speed limit streets or zones with regard to:

  1. Traffic speeds – changes in
  2. Public responses
  3. Recorded road casualties
  4. Air Quality
  5. Any other relevant considerations

3.      Evidence from other Local Authorities in the UK that have introduced a 20mph speed limit, or are in the process of doing so, or are consulting on doing so, with regard to:

  1. The public response
  2. Outcomes in terms of average speeds, recorded road casualties etc.
  3. Costs of introducing the lower speed limit
  4. Enforcement methodologies

4.      Department for Transport (DfT) guidance on 20mph speed limits.

5.      Review of comparative costs in Wandsworth of introducing a whole-borough reduction in the speed limit to 20mph, compared to the historically incurred costs of the current policy to introduce 20mph only on a street by street or (for example, Shaftesbury Estate) zonal basis.

6.      Exploration of Transport for London (TfL)’s likely funding response to an application from Wandsworth Council for funds to introduce a borough-wide change in the speed limit as part (if appropriate) of its LIP submission.

7.      Seeking the views of the NHS locally in view of what evidence exists relating to reductions in KSI (killed or seriously injured) rates and the potential public health benefits of the wider introduction of 20mph speed limits.

  • The Working Group would undertake this work with a view to making a recommendation to the Council – hopefully unanimously; if need be, with a majority and one or more minority reports – as to whether a reduction in the general speed limit should be adopted in Wandsworth.

The steps thereafter would include:

  • Consideration by the Council;
  • Public Consultation;
  • A decision reached by the Council.

Further Considerations for Cllr Ravi Govindia

This Note should be read along with the Briefing prepared by the Wandsworth Environment Forum (WEF), and already submitted to the Councillor, reviewing the benefits of reducing the standard speed limit to 20mph.

We would like the following points to be borne in mind:

  • All Wandsworth residents, businesspeople and others working in, studying in or visiting  the borough are affected by the general speed limit.
  • People in Wandsworth live in local streets and use local streets to visit local shops, services, restaurants, green spaces and other facilities.
  • They travel along the streets in varying ways – on foot, by public transport, in private cars, on bicycles.  Wandsworth residents are, by turn, pedestrians and car drivers and bus users and cyclists, most of us using at least two or three of these modes of getting around in our daily lives. We are not divided into competing groups; we are not pedestrians OR car drivers OR bus users OR cyclists.
  • But our choice to use certain modes of travel like walking or cycling is constrained by the speed and density of motorised traffic.
  • Many of us, in addition, have children who go to local schools, playing fields, recreational facilities – walking, being ferried by car, travelling by bus or train, or cycling to get there.

Our quality of life is affected by what happens outside our houses and flats on the streets – our safety from death or serious injury, noise levels, air quality, the driving experience, the walking along pavements experience, the road crossing experience, conditions for cycling, and so on.

Streets, in other words, are public spaces – used by all of us, and in different ways and modes at different points in the day or week.

Modern street management is moving away from conceiving roads simply as channels dedicated primarily to cars, vans and lorries which have a right to move along these public spaces as fast as possible – with cyclists marginalised and pedestrians corralled behind barriers on narrow pavements (often made more narrow and congested by road engineering schemes to improve vehicle flow).  The modern approach is to conceive of streets as shared space, used by us in differing modes.

Evidence is mounting of the benefits of this new approach in terms of the liveability of local neighbourhoods. This involves, but is not confined to, reducing the speed limit. All sorts of benefits of a 20mph general speed limit have been established (see the paper submitted by WEF for more details.)

Wandsworth Council has a record of public service to the local community of which it is proud. The time has come for the Council to think properly about moving in this direction of reducing the standard speed limit on Council-controlled roads to 20mph (except for those roads where the Council makes a convincing public interest case for retaining the current 30mph speed limit), as many other local authorities (including Bristol, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Wirral, Norwich, and the London Borough of Islington) are doing.