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20mph in Wandsworth – Where have we got to?

February 2, 2014

Reducing the default speed limit on local roads where people live, shop and work from 30mph to 20mph has been an issue many local people in Wandsworth feel very strongly. It is the original thing that got Wandsworth Living Streets going as a local residents’ campaigning group. We all still feel strongly about it today. This note is to give you a bird’s eye view of where we are. [1]

The good news from Inner London

Over the past 2 or 3 years, amazing progress has been made in several London boroughs. Islington has fully implemented 20mph on all its roads. Camden is now putting 20mph in place on all its roads. The City of London voted last September to do the same thing, and wants the roads controlled by Transport for London (TfL) in the City also to be 20mph. In Southwark, the Council is implementing 20mph on all roads, including main roads, with completion due in the middle of this year (2014). Lambeth plans the same thing, and the same completion date. Haringey, having consulted residents across the whole borough last October, will consider the results in March. Hackney which has made all its residential roads 20mph, is now evaluating a trial on roads it shares with Islington before deciding on whether to make all these other borough-controlled roads 20mph too. And Greenwich has committed itself to 20mph, but via a rolling programme of 20mph zones.

As for Lewisham, Tower Hamlets, Newham, Ealing and Kingston, they have had over 30% of their roads 20mph ever since 2010.

The ‘slow coaches’ in Inner London are Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, and Hammersmith and Fulham.

Transport for London (TfL) is beginning to take the case for 20mph seriously

The Mayor’s Roads Task Force reported in the middle of last year. It divided up London’s roads into different types. And it recognised that there are some types of roads, including residential roads where people live, where the ‘place’ function of the road is more important than the ‘movement’ function of getting vehicles from A to B. 20mph on these roads, even if part of the TLRN Network that TfL is responsible for (some 7% of all roads in London, but usually the busiest and often the most dangerous), may be the appropriate speed.

  • TfL has committed itself to working with boroughs seeking a borough-wide 20mph speed limit.
  • TfL is encouraging boroughs that are planning to adopt 20mph on their roads to consider which TLRN roads they also wish to become 20mph.
  • TfL is going to publish its strategy for 20mph on the TLRN this March.

Where have we got to in Wandsworth?

  • The road safety case for slower speeds has been strengthened by Wandsworth’s most recent road casualty figures:
    The number of Killed, Seriously Injured and Slightly Injured actually rose ten per cent from 1,024 in 2010 to 1,122 in 2012. Of those who were killed or seriously injured (socalled KSIs), 33% were pedestrians; 28% cyclists; and only 3% vehicle occupants. It is pedestrians, cyclists (and motor cyclists) who bear almost all the human cost of vehicle collisions.
  • The latest 20mph speed limit area — the Dover House Estate and West Putney — has proved popular:
    About a year after it was introduced, the Council distributed 4,425 questionnaires. Those in favour in the two adjacent areas were 64% and 76% of those who responded respectively.
  • There is a growing number of areas in the Borough where residents are asking for 20mph:
    Last year Putney residents on Fawe Park Road and several adjacent roads petitioned the Council for 20mph. At the December 2013 meeting of the Council’s Strategic Planning & Transportation Committee, Cllr Jacob presented a petition, with 695 signatures, for a 20mph zone across the whole of Bedford ward in SW17/SW12. And Cllr Farebrother presented another petition from Furzedown Ward in SW16 for 20mph in their ward.

What is Wandsworth Council’s current policy on 20mph since October 2013?

The Transportation Overview & Scrutiny Committee considered the Council’s revised Road Safety Plan (Paper 13-539) (to go to the Executive on 23 September) [2]. For the first time, the Plan included a special section setting out the Council’s approach to 20mph (paragraphs 85 to 111). Wandsworth Living Streets prepared its Proposals [3] for 20mph which it discussed with the Cabinet Member for Transport, Cllr Russell King, in July in advance of this Paper.

The Council has shifted its position on 20mph to some degree. The Paper stated:

  1. The Council is supportive of introducing 20mph speed limits in roads or areas.’ (Para 85)
  2. The Council recognised ‘a growing public acceptance of 20mph speed limits in residential streets over recent years’ and ‘an increase in the number of requests for their introduction’. (Para 86)
  3. In a big shift of policy, it recognised that the West Putney experiment showed that a 20mph speed limit introduced without expensive physical traffic calming features (like speed humps) could reduce average speeds – as it had done on 29 of 33 roads in the area.
  4. In another shift of policy, the Council agreed to consider ‘large areas of many roads or a whole ward’, provided that at least 10% of households made the request with the full support of their ward councillors. (Para 100). But the Council set a very high bar for the next stage (formal consultation by the Council), stating it would like a response rate of 30% of postal addresses, and a majority of 60% of responses in favour. (Para 109)
  5. But the Council, unlike most other Inner London boroughs, declared it will not consult residents on a Borough-wide 20mph speed limit unless there is ‘substantial evidence of strong Borough-wide support.’ (Para 101)

What should we residents do now?

That is the question each of us has to think about. If you have ideas as to actions that we can realistically do, please let’s brainstorm about them. As Secretary, I will take responsibility for sharing any ideas that you put forward with all other Wandsworth Living Streets supporters.

[1] May I express my thanks to Jeremy Leach, the 20sPlenty coordinator for London, who has prepared this detailed information.
[2] This Council Paper can be found on the Wandsworth Council website.
[3] If you would like a copy by email attachment, let Robert Molteno know.

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