Croydon 20 mph Consultation

Croydon Council have launched a public consultation on a wide-area, signed-only, 20 mph speed limit for North Croydon. This is the first of several areas of Croydon which they intend to impose this speed limit upon in due course.

See for more details on these proposals, but you will be wasting your time in responding if you live outside the designated area. The fact that a lot of the users of the roads within that area live outside it will be ignored in this consultation, plus of course all the visitors such as local delivery drivers.

We are strongly opposed to this proposal and are circulating a leaflet within the area affected urging residents to oppose it.

In summary this is what we say: many roads in the area already have speed humps to reduce traffic speeds and many of the injuries to pedestrians and cyclists in Croydon occur at low speeds on main roads. The road safety benefits of a wide area 20 mph limit will be minimal and there are no other real benefits.

Why make a change that is bound to lead to many more vehicles breaking the law by exceeding the speed limit? Don’t fall for the council’s anti-car propaganda. Do you really think that 20 mph is appropriate for roads such as Auckland Road, Grange Road and Northwood Road? Make sure you oppose the waste of money to create these 20 mph zones.


Here are some detailed comments on the claims made by Croydon Council for the merits of their scheme, numbered as per their “Frequently Asked Questions” document on their web site:

  1. What is this proposal about and how did it originate? The councils comments are misleading. The proposal arose as part of a Labour party manifesto for the council elections – in other words it was an idea thought up by politicians who might have little knowledge of road safety matters and as a simplistic solution to road safety problems. It also comments on the encouragement of walking and cycling, and the possible contribution to improving health and tackling obesity, but there is simply no firm scientific evidence in the public domain of 20 mph schemes having any impact on those.
  2. Is it safer to drive at 20 mph? In theory maybe, but in practice there is no evidence that imposing a lower speed limit improves road safety. Indeed the evidence is to the contrary. Before 1930 there was a blanket 20 mph speed limit across the whole of the UK. When it was removed, the accidents fell. The recent evidence on wide-area 20 mph schemes, particularly those imposed only by signs with no road engineering measures, is not supportive of the view that they are a cost-effective road safety measure. The Department of Transport (DfT) have recently commissioned a three year study into the effectiveness of 20 mph schemes because of this uncertainty, but Croydon Council are not willing to await the evidence as they have made their own minds up already.
  3. Would there be fewer collisions/casualties as a result of the scheme? They allege there would be when there is no evidence there actually will be. Their claims about the benefits of such a scheme in Portsmouth are grossly misleading. There was no statistically significant reduction on overall accidents and the KSI figures actually rose. It is very unclear that there was any real benefit in spending the £573,000 that the Portsmouth scheme cost – in other words, no justification that it was a cost effective scheme in comparison with other possible road safety measures.
  4. How much will it cost and is it worth it? The scheme for Croydon North alone will cost £300,000 with the whole of Croydon costing £1.5 million. They claim that they can justify the cost based on accident reductions (without any clear estimate of what the reductions might be so that a retrospective review of the benefits in Croydon North can be seen before extending it to other areas). In any case, and as we have already pointed out, the claimed benefits are unlikely to be achieved. Even the costs they imply might be saved by reducing accidents are misleading. The DfT figures for collisions relate to the “value” attached to an accident based on what people are willing to pay to avoid them. This is a very subjective and biased measure. The direct costs are much lower so there is no realistic chance of recovering the proposed expenditure by cost savings. They also again make claims about the cost savings to be achieved (such as to the NHS) from improved health as people are discouraged from driving, for which there is simply no supportive evidence.
  5. Is this scheme being funded from council tax revenues? They say “No”. This is grossly misleading. The funding is certainly coming from Transport for London (TfL), which is of course funded primarily by taxation, directly or indirectly. So for example, some of the funds come from the GLA Precept obtained from Local Authorities in London and some from central Government funding (again from the taxes the public pays). You are paying for this expenditure one way or another and some of it is coming from council tax revenues!
  6. Are other boroughs considering 20 mph speed limits? It is true that others are considering such limits or have introduced them. Many outer London boroughs have also rejected these proposals on the grounds that they are an expensive solution and there are better uses to tackle road safety for the available money. Would it not have been better to await the results of similar schemes already introduced to see what impact they have in reality? In the City of London, the 20 mph speed limit has had minimal impact, even though enforcement has been actively pursued. Regrettably councils such as Croydon are not interested in the evidence, but more in the concept while ignoring the negative aspects of their proposals for the ordinary road user.

Roger Lawson

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