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20mph Speed Limit on roads across Lancashire announced

John Freeman
After years of campaigning for lower speed limits by the Green Party and health professionals, and, more recently, by a local 20s Plenty group, the County Council has implemented a blanket 20mph limit on residential roads across Lancashire.

Conservative County Councillor Tim Ashton, who is responsible for highways, has announced a blanket 20mph limit for all residential streets in Lancashire for 2013 at a cost of £9 million, in an effort to reduce the numbers of people killed or seriously injured on our roads.

Green City Councillor and transport expert John Whitelegg has welcomed the news.

"This is an enormously significant contribution to improving quality of life, helping all of us to walk and cycle more and reducing the totally unacceptable grief and misery associated with death and injury on the roads of Lancashire," he argues.

Statistics show that people in the North West are more likely to be injured on the roads than anywhere else in England. Figures for 2008 were 269 killed, 3,055 seriously injured and 26,137 slightly injured. More than 80 per cent of child casualties occur on roads with a speed limit of 30 mph.

"A child hit at 20 mph has a 95 per cent chance of survival but this goes down to 45 per cent at 30 mph," John notes. "I want to live in a 95 per cent and not a 45 per cent city and one death or one serious injury is not acceptable.

"Green councillors have campaigned for a 20 mph speed limit for many years," he adds. "We've taken two proposals to council meetings which were not well received by the other parties and argued consistently for this massive reduction in danger on our roads.

"20 mph has been fully supported by Directors of Public Health and by the World Health Organisation and we can now look forward to a safer and happier Lancashire."

It's argued that lower speeds have several benefits: people feel safer and therefore more able to walk and cycle - leading to health benefits such as fighting obesity and heart disease; communities are quieter and more pleasant; and there's lower pollution levels and lower fuel use (12 per cent less in one study in Germany).

It's also much cheaper to implement a blanket speed limit than impose than piecemeal 20mph zones, as no bumps and chicanes are used, relying instead on public honesty.

While car drivers are bound to concerned that the limit will increase journey times, it's been found that the limit adds only about one minute extra for a 15 minute urban journey.

Despite criticism, Portsmouth introduced a city-wide scheme in 2008, using 20 mph signage on all side streets (major trunk roads kept their 30mph limit) and did away with speed bumps. After two years, an evaluation found that on streets which had an average speed of more than 24 mph there was an average reduction of seven mph; the number of recorded casulties had fallen fell by 22 per cent; and just under half of residents were satisified with the scheme, with under 15 per cent registering their dissatisfaction.

Reaction to the new limits has been mixed but past surveys show that the majority of people are in favour of lower speeds, particularly if they can be achieved without speed bumps.

• More information: Local 20s Plenty Group:

The Lancashire Telegraph is running a poll to vote for (or against) Tim Ashton's proposals here