After the Archbishop of Canterbury was fined for exceeding a 20 mph speed limit on London’s Embankment, we now have Home Secretary Suella Braverman admitting she broke a speed limit when Justice Secretary last summer. Is this a big deal that the media should be fawning over? I don’t think so.
It’s just another example of legislation that has turned speeding offences into a money-making scam by the offer of Speed Awareness Courses by the police.
The 20 mph limits that are spreading over most of London have not been set on any rational, scientific analysis of the benefits of speed limits and their enforcement. All that is happening is that responsible citizens are being prosecuted for trivial offences that have not harmed anyone.
But irrationally lower speed limits just add to the traffic congestion in London and degrade the road network.
Transport for London (TfL) have imposed 20 mph speed limits on a number of London’s main A roads. To quote from their press release: “20mph speed limits will be introduced across 28km of roads within the boroughs of Camden, Islington, Hackney, Haringey and Tower Hamlets from 31 March……TfL data shows 20mph speed limits are making London’s roads safer and have led to a 25 per cent reduction in deaths and serious injuries within the central London Congestion Charging Zone… Lower speed limits play a critical role in the Mayor’s Vision Zero plan to eliminate deaths and serious injury on the transport network”.
The data they provide to support these claims is both selective and inaccurate (see their press release below).
Their claims are grossly misleading about the benefit of 20 mph limits as other studies have shown no benefit. As we have pointed out before, Vision Zero is not working because it focuses too much on speed.
This is just another example of how the Mayor of London and certain boroughs plan to get rid of motorists altogether in London. The ULEZ expansion is also part of the plan. Cars are not being banned, just made unusable for many practical purposes. This is a typical diversionary tactic of politicians when banning something outright would be seen as totally unacceptable.
And just consider the plight of taxi/PHV drivers who could lose their licenses and jobs after being caught a few times for driving at 22 mph on TfL roads.
As evidence of how damaging the reign of Sadiq Khan has been to London’s road network, the table below gives the historic trends for average traffic speeds in London. It’s now less than 10 mph in central London!
Transport for London (TfL) have issued a press release claiming significant improvements in road safety since more 20 mph speed limits were introduced. The press release claims that collisions involving vulnerable road users have reduced by 36% and collisions involving death or serious injury have fallen by 25%.
The odd thing about this press release is that “collisions” are not recorded by the police, only road traffic accidents involving personal injury. In addition this claim is quite meaningless unless traffic volumes are measured at the same time and the impact of any other road safety measures such as road/junction improvements are taken into account.
TfL claim that it shows the Mayor’s Vision Zero plan is working but the last time we reported on this eighteen months ago we showed it was not. See https://tinyurl.com/3x3jvcr7
Regardless a report in the Daily Telegraph says that TfL is pushing ahead with lowering speed limits on many more roads in London. The majority of TfL controlled roads (red routes) will move from 30 mph to 20 mph limits.
Meanwhile the number of enforcement actions for speeding by the Metropolitan Police rose by 73% last year to 476,685, probably because 20 limits are not a natural speed to drive at on clear roads.
Comment: TfL claims contradict the authoritative study undertaken by the DfT which showed no statistically significant benefit from 20 mph speed limit zones. The TfL press release does not provide all the data and it is surely based on selective data and false analysis.
Vision Zero and reducing speed limits below what drivers consider as reasonable just seems to be an attack on driving in general with the aim of making life more difficult for those who need to drive. It’s unfair and is just another example of the anti-car mentality of TfL management.
It has now been reported that this approach has been blocked by the Department for Transport (DfT) who have indicated that obtaining driver details for that purpose is unlawful. The DfT have told the DVLA to stop sharing details of drivers caught speeding under the scheme.
Barrie Segal, an expert on motoring law who runs a web site called MyappealNow, has also said that he believes this scheme is illegal as only the police can enforce speed limits. He would be interested in hearing from anyone who is issued with a PCN by any council in such circumstances.
Comment: Motorists need to oppose this attempt to extend the law so that councils can generate money from minor infringements of speed limits.
I commented previously on the use of PCNs to enforce 20 mph speed limits on certain roads in the London Borough of Wandsworth – see links below. After exchanging numerous emails with the Council and looking into the relevant Acts of Parliament I have come to the conclusion that they have no proper legal grounds for issuing PCNs in these circumstances.
They claim to have taken two legal reviews which supports their stance. But why two? Did the first one not give the right answers?
After my last question to them they simply said “It would appear we are at an impasse, legal advice is privilege information and I have nothing further to add at this time”, i.e. they seem to be stumped for an answer.
Our advice to anyone who receives a PCN for exceeding a 20-mph speed limit in Wandsworth is to challenge it and take it to appeal to London Tribunals.
We are considering a wider legal challenge and if anyone would like to assist with that please contact me (tel: 020-8295-0378 during office hours).
The Council claims to be relying on the London Local Authorities and Transport for London Act 2003. (LLA &TfL Act 2003) and the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. (RTR Act 84). Specifically Section 4(5)(a) of the LLA&TfL Act 2003 that allows for Penalty Charge Notices to be issued for contravening a Prescribed Order. I pointed out that a prescribed order can only apply where there is a contravention of a traffic sign listed in Schedule 3 of the London Local Authorities and Transport for London Act 2003. There is no 20 mph sign limit listed in Schedule 3. And Section 4(6)(a) says: “No penalty charge shall be payable under subsection (5)(a) above where—(a) the person acting in contravention of the prescribed order also fails to comply with an indication given by a scheduled section 36 traffic sign; or….”. They also claimed support of Section 84 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 which specifically refers to “Speed limits on roads other than restricted roads” so only applies to non-restricted roads. The roads under discussion are almost certainly “restricted roads”.
The legislation in this area is exceedingly complex and difficult to understand but I believe they have simply misinterpreted it in their enthusiasm to raise money from drivers who might not challenge PCNs.
20 Mph speed limits may be enforceable by the police but Councils have no authority to issue PCNs for breaches of 20 mph limits in our view.
I have asked the Council to provide information on what public consultation took place on this proposal and a copy of the Traffic Management Order (TMO) used to impose it (which was not published anywhere so far as I can see). They provided the latter but were very evasive about the former even though they claim they received 23 responses. I am pursuing it further.
But I have sent in an objection to the TMO as follows and I suggest readers do the same.
I refer to “The Wandsworth (Prescribed Routes) (20mph Speed Limit) Experimental Order 2021”
Please note our objections to this Order for the following reasons:
1. The 20-mph limit on the roads concerned is likely to have very little, if any, impact on road casualties. I quote from a recent article in the Daily Mail: “Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast, Edinburgh University and the University of Cambridge collected data on traffic collisions, casualties, driver speed and traffic volume before a 20mph limit was introduced, as well as one and three years afterwards.
Their study encompassed 76 streets in the city centre, and they compared data with that collected from nearby streets where the restrictions did not apply. Analysis showed that when compared with the sites that had retained their speed limits, a 20mph speed limit was associated with little change in short or long-termaccident statistics.
Small reductions in road traffic collisions of 3 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively, were observed one and three years after the policy took effect. But there was no statistically significant difference over time, the researchers said.
Similarly, casualty rates fell by 16 per cent and 22 per cent, respectively, one and three years after implementation – but these reductions also weren’t statistically significant”.
3. The roads on which you are enforcing the 20 limit are inappropriate for a 20 limit. For example Wimbledon Park Road is a straight and relatively wide road which drivers will not perceive as needing a 20 limit. Is there really a road safety problem in this road?
4. The ability of the Council to enforce such a limit via the issue of PCNs rather than have police pursue a prosecution suggests the motive for the scheme is to enable the Council to collect money from fines rather than to improve road safety.
5. We have studied the relevant Acts of Parliament referred to in the TMO and we cannot see that they enable enforcement of the 20 limit in this way by Wandsworth Council. London Councils certainly have powers to enforce parking restrictions, road closures and certain other traffic offences but we do not see that this extends to 20-mph speed limits. Please point out exactly which provisions in those Acts are being relied upon.
The London Borough of Wandsworth has obtained permission to enforce 20 Mph speed limits by the use of PCN fines. This will be a trial scheme for 8 months using an Experimental Traffic Order. The money raised will go to the Council so this is just another scam to extract money from motorists like the LTN cameras now being used.
Previously only the police could issue fines for speeding and the money then goes to the Government Treasury. Or the police could offer a speed awareness course which is a way they finance their own operations.
Wandsworth Council say that traffic studies found that one in four vehicles broke the speed limit in Priory Lane and one in five in Wimbledon Park Road. But that surely just demonstrates that a 20 limit is inappropriate for those roads or the roads need re-engineering. There is no evidence given of excessive road safety problems.
These were quotations given in the Evening Standard: “The AA has said that speeding should not be dealt with ‘like a parking ticket’. Speeding enforcement should not become “fishing trips” to secure money for councils,’ a spokesman told the Evening Standard. Drivers will be rightly concerned that speeding fines will be more about filling council coffers than keeping roads safe, Joe Ventre, from the TaxPayers’ Alliance, also told the newspaper”.
Residents of Wandsworth should submit objections to the Council but this scheme will undoubtedly spread to other boroughs if it is not opposed. It should never have been approved by central Government.
P.S. There is minimal information on this scheme on the Wandsworth Council web site and no Experimental Traffic Order related to it was obviously present on the London Registry as there should be so we submitted an FOI Act request to the Council.
P.P.S. The answers to my FOI request suggest that the Traffic Order was published in December 2021 in a local newspaper and in the London Gazette with only a few weeks allowed for objections, but not many people are likely to have read those sources. I am still looking into the legality of the Traffic Order.
The Times have published an article headlined “Police veering wildly on 20 mph limit” which covers the variation in speed enforcement across the country. In London fines have been rising rapidly as the Metropolitan Police have doubled patrols in 20 mph zones and have a target to enforce against one million drivers. But in other parts of the country the number of 20 mph speeding offences in minimal.
London taxi drivers, known to be some of the safest drivers on the roads, have been badly hit particularly after the previous excess tolerance was reduced by 1 mph. The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association said they had been inundated with requests for legal assistance from drivers with previously clean licences, given penalty points for breaching a 20 mph limit.
Lilli Matson, who oversees the “Vision Zero” strategy for Transport for London (TfL), is quoted in the Times article as saying “the fines went to the Treasury and no profits were taken from speed awareness courses”. This is grossly misleading. Police forces generate surpluses from such courses which they spend on all sorts of things including more cameras. See our Ampow campaign for more evidence on this at: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/speed-awareness-courses
Comment: Having a target for offences identified and prosecuted is wrong. It incentivises the police to find offences that may have no relevance to road safety while there is no evidence that taking a speed awareness course improves a driver’s safety. It’s just another perverse attack on motorists, particularly in London pursued by TfL, where 20 mph limits are now being installed on main roads. See link below on how Vision Zero is failing to achieve any improvement in road casualty statistics mainly because there is an irrational belief that cutting traffic speed will help.
A petition on Change.org has been created by James Burdass which reads: “Stop every road in London having a 20mph Speed limit”.
More details say “Let’s face it, every driver knows that London is grinding to a halt under the Mayor’s transport policies. So why is it that we need more expensive to implement new anti-car 20mph speed limits?
The Mayor has said that all Red Routes within the Congestion charging zone will have 20mph limits. Yes, the main roads not the high street or residential roads. Just outside the zone, Park Lane goes from 40mph to 20mph. Progress?
For more than half a century 30mph has been the default urban speed limit in the UK. 20mph limits are expensive to implement, wasting scarce road related funding that could be better spent elsewhere, create more pollution on our streets, lead to more congestion and do not deliver the benefits in terms of casualty reduction that proponents expected.https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/20-mph-speed-limits-on-roads
20mph leads to slower speeds for everyone and that includes bus passengers and ambulances looking to get people to hospital. Rather than winning hearts and minds it is the backs and spines that are affected.
It is time that this was rolled back and London’s main roads restored to 30mph.
Transport for London (TfL) are proposing to reduce the speed limit on Battersea Park Road (the A3205) to 20 MPH along the whole length. In addition they are proposing a new segregated cycle lane and other minor changes to the road.
Why are they proposing these changes? To quote from the TfL document: “These changes seek to create a sustainable transport spine through the Nine Elms opportunity area, providing benefits to both the existing and future residents, and workers. The road layout along this stretch of Battersea Park Road is very constrained due to the railway arches and level of activity along the road. The proposals in this consultation would create an improved cycle link between CS8 to the west and CS5 to the east. They would improve connectivity and allow for increases in cycling demand that are anticipated to be generated by the new town centre emerging at Battersea Power Station, while providing safer separated sections of cycle track. The proposals would also provide more direct pedestrian crossings and more space to interchange between buses and trains at Battersea Park station. Overall, this will create a destination where people are encouraged to walk, cycle and use public transport. The proposals are fully funded through third party contributions from the regeneration along Battersea Park Road and Nine Elms Lane”.
As usual with TfL proposals of late there is no cost information provided or cost/benefit justification.