20 MPH Limits are so Tedious and Unnecessary

Yesterday I drove into central London from my home in Bromley to attend an appointment at Guys Hospital. I regularly drive in as I wish to avoid public transport mainly because I now use a wheelchair and wish to avoid the risk of a Covid infection to which I am vulnerable. So I took the A20 and A2 through Lewisham, New Cross and Deptford.

The whole route now has a 20 mph speed limit once you are in Lewisham. This makes it extremely tedious and is totally unjustified on road safety grounds. The A2 is of course the historic road from London to Dover. It should be a four-lane motorway with a 70 limit but is now reduced to a crawl from the GLA boundary.  

It’s a typical example of how Transport for London (TfL) have destroyed the London road network under the chairmanship of Sadiq Khan in the last few years.

I may have a ULEZ compliant vehicle, exemption from the Congestion Charge as a Blue Badge holder, and free parking at Guys Hospital but when TfL create road congestion through stupid restrictions I end up taking hours on simple journeys.

Many years ago I used to commute into central London via car. Now that is totally impractical due to TfL induced congestion.

Since the 1960s there has been no comprehensive plan to improve London’s road network. That’s why we have horrible air pollution on roads such as the South Circular. Improvement plans are regularly defeated by anti-vehicle lobbyists and by individual councils such as Lewisham and Greenwich by nimby factions.

The UK Government has said it will back motorists who keep our country moving and its plans would include: a review of guidance on 20mph speed limits in England to prevent use in “areas where not appropriate”. Well the whole of London’s A roads should be excluded for a start.

Roger Lawson

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Rishi Sunak Speech and 20 mph Limits in London

Rishi Sunak’s speech at the close of the Conservative Party Conference is surely to be welcomed by all those who use our roads and want rational economic decisions to be taken. It included this statement on HS2: “I am ending this long running saga. I am cancelling the rest of the HS2 project. And in its place we will reinvest every single penny, £36 billion, in hundreds of new transport projects in the North and the Midlands, and across the country. This means £36 billion of investment in the projects that will make a real difference across our country. We’ll help Andy Street extend the West Midlands Metro… Build the Leeds tram, electrify the North Wales main line…Upgrade the A1, the A2, the A5, the M6 and we’ll connect our Union with the A75 boosting links between Scotland and Northern Ireland. We’ll fund the Shipley bypass, the Blyth relief road and deliver 70 other road schemes. We’ll resurface roads across the country”.

So we should be getting some improvements to congested major roads even if money is to be wasted on tram systems which are rarely justified on a cost/benefit ratio.

Meanwhile in London Sadiq Khan is putting up two fingers to the Government’s commitment to halt irrational 20 mph speed limits. Transport for London (TfL) will introduce 65km of new 20mph speed limits within the Royal Borough of Greenwich, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Lewisham, Southwark, Wandsworth, Merton, Bromley and Lambeth. The new speed limits will be introduced in stages over the last four months of the year.

TfL is also working with the Met Police to increase their capacity to take enforcement action against drivers and riders who speed. They are currently on track to be able to take action on a million speeding offences by 2024/5, to provide a more effective deterrent to speeding.

A 20mph limit will be introduced on sections of the following roads:

A232: West Wickham High Street (scheme to go live in September)

A205: St John Wilson Street, Well Hall Road (scheme to go live in October)

A4: Cromwell Road, Brompton Road (scheme to go live in October)

A3220: Pembroke Road, Holland Road, Warwick Road, Redcliffe Gardens (scheme to go live in October)

A20: Eltham Road, Lee High Road, Lewisham Way (scheme to go live in November)

A202: Queens Road, Peckham High Street, Camberwell Church Street, Camberwell New Road (scheme to go live in December)

A2: New Cross Road, Old Kent Road (scheme to go live in December)

A201: New Kent Road (scheme to go live in December)

A100: Tower Bridge Road (scheme to go live in December)

A200: Jamaica Road (scheme to go live in December)

A3: Clapham Road, Kennington Park Road (scheme to go live in December)

A3204: Kennington Lane (scheme to go live in December)

A203: Stockwell Road (scheme to go live in December)

A23: Camberwell New Road, Streatham Hill, Streatham High Road (scheme to go live in December)

A214: Tooting Bec Road (Scheme to go live in December)

A24: Clapham Common South Side, Balham High Road, Upper Tooting Road, High Street Colliers Wood (scheme to go live in December)

A205: Woolwich Common, South Circular Road, Catford Road, Stanstead Road, London Road, Thurlow Road, Christchurch Road, Poynders Road, Dulwich Common (scheme to go live in December)

Comment: This is an irrational and unjustified attack on drivers. Speed of traffic has already been considerably reduced in recent years in London with no obvious impact on road casualties.

Rishi Sunak speech in full: https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/uk-news/rishi-sunaks-full-speech-conservative-27843617

TfL Press Release: https://tfl.gov.uk/info-for/media/press-releases/2023/september/tfl-to-launch-65km-of-new-lower-speed-limit-schemes-to-cut-road-danger-across-the-capital-and-save-lives

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The War on the Motorist and New A20 Speed Limit

It has been widely reported that Rishi Sunak is to announce new motorist-friendly policies that might inhibit the introduction of more LTNs, restrict more 20 mph speed limits and times of bus lanes might be relaxed. On BBC Radio Manchester he argued that prioritising driving was the best policy as the vast majority of journeys are made by car. He has that right at least so why are we spending billions of pounds on HS2 which will be used by very few people? It should surely be scrapped.

Mark Harper, Transport Minister, said this on Twitter: ”Too often the private car is vilified by Labour politicians and sneered at by the metropolitan bubble, when it has been one of the most powerful forces for personal freedom & economic growth”. But will this fine rhetoric which will no doubt be lapped up at the Conservative Party Conference this week be followed up by action to control local councillors who introduce silly speed limits. Or Sadiq Khan in London or Mark Drakeford in Wales (petition against default 20 limit in Wales now has more than 450,000 signatures but is still being ignored!).

More details in this Government statement: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-announces-new-long-term-plan-to-back-drivers

If the Conservatives follow through on this agenda it will certainly win them some votes.

A20 Speed Limits

Meanwhile the latest imposition of an unreasonable speed limit has been imposed in the last few days on the A20 between Crittalls Corner in Sidcup and the BP service station/McDonalds before the Swanley M25 junction (eastbound only). The speed limit has been reduced to 40 from 70 and signs for average speed cameras put up and 40 repeater signs also so presumably this is a permanent change. It is unknown why this change has been made although it has been suggested that it is due to road flooding which requires some work on the road which may not be done until May 2024. However it is a ridiculously low speed limit for such a dual-carriageway.

The country is grinding to a halt because of unreasonable speed limits which will mean enormous numbers of drivers will get fines even when driving at safe speeds.

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20 MPH Limits and Bromley Road Safety Review

Come September, roads in Wales in urban areas are to have the speed limit reduced to 20 mph, i.e. it will replace the 30 limit with a few exceptions. This was a decision made by the Welsh Parliament (the Senedd) but they have already received a petition of over 20,000 signatures objecting.

This is basically an irrational proposal that will not improve road safety or reduce road casualties. A DfT report showed there was no benefit in putting up 20 mph limit signs alone without road engineering measures and they are a waste of money.

In London we have the same irrationality with 20 limits being imposed on main A-roads in some cases. This is making it very difficult to drive in a normal but safe manner on London’s roads and is slowing bus journeys.

The London Borough of Bromley have published an interesting report entitled a “Comprehensive Review of Road Safety…” . See https://cds.bromley.gov.uk/documents/s50105790/Road%20Safety%20in%20LBBromley%20-%20June%202023-Word.pdf . It is well worth reading and was considered by a Council Committee.

Of course there are some Bromley residents who would like 20 limits everywhere in the mistaken belief that road accidents would disappear. This is the response elicited by a question to the Committee: “Response to Question 11: By using 20 MPH zones where appropriate, rather than having a blanket policy, motorists are more likely to respond and drive in accordance with the speed limit. It is worth noting that the 30 MPH national limit was introduced in 1935 when there were 1.5 m vehicles and vehicle safety standards were rudimentary. There are now more than 41 million vehicles in the UK. In 1935 nearly 8,000 people died on UK roads, last year less than 1,700”.

Yes it’s true that before 1935 there was a national 20 mph limit on all roads. It was of course widely ignored and casualties fell when a more realistic limit of 30 in urban areas was introduced.

See this page of our web site for more information on 20 limits: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/20mph-limits

Roger Lawson Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

Speed Limits are Not Rational

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.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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20 MPH Limits in London and Traffic Speeds

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!

TfL Press Release: https://tfl.gov.uk/info-for/media/press-releases/2023/march/roads-across-london-to-be-made-safer-with-28km-of-new-20mph-speed-limits-on-tfl-roads       

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“Collision” Data and More Speeding Fines in 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.

TfL Press Release: https://tinyurl.com/mr26vmue

Telegraph Article: https://tinyurl.com/mr3rz6a9

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Wandsworth Speeding Tickets Blocked

We have commented previously on the attempt by the London Borough of Wandsworth to issue PCNs for violating a 20 mph speed limit – see https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2022/12/16/wandsworth-20-mph-limits-unenforceable/ .

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.

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Wandsworth 20 MPH Limits Unenforceable?

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.

How to Object: https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2022/11/19/wandsworth-20-limit-evasion-and-how-to-object/

Money Making Wheeze: https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2022/10/27/a-new-money-making-wheeze-for-london-councils/

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Wandsworth 20 Limit Evasion and How to Object

I commented previously on the new scheme to enforce a 20-mph speed limit by the London Borough of Wandsworth – see https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2022/10/27/a-new-money-making-wheeze-for-london-councils/

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.

To the London Borough of Wandsworth

Email address:  TrafficAndEngineering@richmondandwandsworth.gov.uk

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-term accident 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”.

2. The above evidence is similar to what the DfT reported some years ago and you can read our comments on that here: https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2018/11/23/no-road-safety-benefit-from-20-mph-schemes/ . Limits of 20 mph typically only reduce traffic speeds by 1 mph which is not noticeable in practice.

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.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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