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No U-Turn on York 20mph Rollout - Despite Claims of Increased Accidents


2:26pm 4th July 2014
(Updated 2:27pm 4th July 2014)

York's transport boss says the city's planned 20mph rollout will continue, despite a new report claiming there has been an increase in accidents in 20mph zones.

David Levene says it's "common sense" that as more roads are made into 20mph zones that the number of accidents would go up.He told Minster FM:

"While safety is a consideration, the main focus of the programme we're doing is about improving the local environment of neighbourhoods for residents, replacing the mish-mash we currently have with a consistent, clearly understandable approach. We want to promote more considerate driving, increase confidence about safety on York's streets and make streets more usable spaces by encouraging more walking and cycling. This report doesn't change any of that."

But opposition Conservative leader Chris Steward has accused the Labour council of wasting £800,000 on a "hobby horse", he said in a statement:

"Recent statistics have shown that over the past year serious injuries have increased by 29% and minor injuries have increased by 19%, more evidence that in the real world  things are not as cut and dried as the '20's Plenty' campaigners would have people believe.  The Conservative Group has always supported 20 mph zones where residents have called for them and where there are clear safety priorities to be addressed, but we have strenuously argued against a blanket 20mph zone for York for the reasons shown by these fresh statistics: they do not make the public any safer.  We have also been incredibly concerned that blanket 20mph zones detract from areas such as near schools that really need them, taking away the sense of needing to take special care that a 20mph zone should create."

"Labour has spent close to a million pounds on their ideological crusade to envelope York in 20mph zones which we as a city can ill-afford.  I also find it shocking that this campaign has been driven by a Labour councillor who is a paid lobbyist for the national '20's Plenty' campaign, a fact rarely publicised by Labour.  We're spending money on a programme which has never been proven to be effective, sadly the way of operating that's become a hallmark of this administration."

The Institute of Advanced Motorists claims government statistics show the number of serious accidents has gone up by 26% in the last year and the number of minor accidents are up by 17%.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said:

The government and councils need to take stock on the effectiveness of 20mph signs.  Recent advice, guidance and relaxation of regulations has all been about making it easier for councils to put 20mph limits in place."

More and more roads are being given a 20mph limit but they do not seem to be delivering fewer casualties.  The IAM are concerned that this is because simply putting a sign on a road that still looks like a 30mph zone does not change driver behaviour.  More evaluation and research is needed into the real world performance of 20mph limits to ensure limited funds are being well spent.  In locations with a proven accident problem, authorities need to spend more on changing the character of our roads so that 20mph is obvious, self-enforcing and above all contributes to fewer injuries.  In Europe, it is long term investment in high quality segregated or shared surfaces that have led to a much safer environment for cyclists and pedestrians.

But campaign group 20's Plenty have called the report by the Institute of Advanced Motorists "bogus". It's founder Rod King said:

We are amazed and disappointed that the Institute of Advanced Motorists should make such a woeful mistake intheir conclusions from the DfT statistics.

In fact, wherever 20mph limits have been piloted, on looking at the casualties in detail, councils have concluded that there was a positive effect on road safety and subsequently widened the implementation across most areas. Now 20% of the UK population live in towns, cities or villages where the Traffic Authority is convinced that 20 is plenty for most streets.

The IAM conclusion is bogus and reflects a poor understanding of either the changing numbers and success of 20mph limits or basic statistics.”

Earlier this week, opposition Green councillors said the notices about the 20mph rollout were confusing to people. Green councillor Andy d'Agorne said 

The notices, in complicated legal language, list the streets that are not A or B roads and are NOT included in the draft 20mph order, rather than those which ARE to be included. A map of the proposals is simpler and clearer, allowing residents to easily understand which roads are affected.

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