20 MPH Speed Limits in London on Major Roads

20 MPH SignTransport for London (TfL) are pushing ahead with their proposals for “Safer Speeds” in central London – which means 20 MPH speed limits enforced by cameras on many major roads in London. They have published the results of their fake public consultation on this subject which we have previously criticised as a consultation “in name only” including a refusal by TfL to provide key information on the proposals such as any cost/benefit analysis.

The public consultation used leading questions and was a complete distortion of how consultations should be performed – see https://tinyurl.com/y3gqh5hh for more information on how TfL ignores public opinion and does fake consultations.

You can read a report from TfL on the Safer Speeds consultation here: https://tinyurl.com/y3gqh5hh . On this very important topic to all road users, of which there are millions in London, they received less than 2,000 responses. Thirty nine percent of the responses came from cyclists which just shows how that pressure group dominates such consultations and are unrepresentative of the general public.

TfL propose to implement the 20 MPH limit on key roads in central London by 2020, and then in phase 2 they will extend lower speed limits to the inner ring road, and high-risk roads and town centre roads in the rest of London by 2024. In other words they will be coming to TfL controlled roads (i.e. main roads) even in outer London. Raised tables will be used at pedestrian crossings and elsewhere to slow traffic and all speed cameras will be recalibrated to the new lower speeds. Vehicle Activated Signs (VAS) will also be used to ensure drivers are aware of the new limits.

What is the likely impact on road casualties? From the experience of the City of London where a 20 MPH limit has been in use for some time, the impact will be negligible. But it will make life more difficult for drivers and result in many more speeding fines as the police will be stepping up enforcement measures. This is one more step in the Mayor’s Transport Strategy to deter people from using cars in London.

London is becoming a ghetto of anti-car fanatics. These proposals are being advocated in the name of road safety despite the fact that TfL refuse to give any estimates of the alleged benefits, probably because they know they will turn out to be false. The proposals are likely to be an enormous waste of money and contribute further to TfL’s budget deficit.

We are still pursuing a FOI Act request to obtain TfL’s internal reports justifying these proposals which in their usual anti-democratic approach they have refused to release. We suggest readers complain to their local MP and Greater London Assembly Member about this matter.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Press Release: Campaign Against 20 MPH Speed Limits Launched

20 MPH SignA campaign against blanket 20 MPH speed limits has been launched.

The reason for doing this is that there is much misinformation being spread by campaigners for such speed limits. What has been happening is that the anti-car activists encouraged by those campaigning for 20 MPH speed limits are now wasting millions of pounds nationwide when that money would have been better spent on other road safety measures – such as road engineering and education of younger drivers.

The Department for Transport (DfT) published the most authoritative study to date on the impact of wide-area signed-only 20 mph speed limits last year. It showed that there is no road safety benefit whatsoever from such schemes. In addition they have negligible impact on modal shift or on traffic speeds.

This was the long-awaited evidence that enormous amounts of money are being wasted on implementing 20 mph schemes which could have been spent instead on more effective road safety measures. In London alone, it is estimated that tens of millions of pounds have been spent on 20-mph signed-only schemes to no effect and nationwide it must run into hundreds of millions of pounds.

We have long called for “evidence-based” road safety policies. The evidence on 20 MPH schemes should not be ignored.

The DfT report can be read here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/20-mph-speed-limits-on-roads . Key paragraphs from the report are:

“The evidence available to date shows no significant change in the short term in collisions and casualties, in the majority of the case studies (including the aggregated set of residential case studies).”

“Journey speed analysis shows that the median speed has fallen by 0.7mph in residential areas and 0.9mph in city centre areas.”

Note that we are not opposed to the use of 20-mph speed limits where it might be of benefit or where compliance will be high but it is not the solution to all road safety problems and simply sticking up signs is a waste of money. The simplistic solutions proposed by advocates of wide area signed-only 20 MPH schemes do not work to reduce the Killed and Seriously Injured (KSIs) on our roads to any significant extent. Money is being wasted on them that could be better used to reduce KSIs in other ways.

20 MPH speed limits should be opposed by all road users. They are indeed SENSELESS.

For more information contact: Roger Lawson on 020-8295-0378
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Consultations in Name Only and “Safer Speeds”

I covered the issue of Transport for London (TfL) doing public consultations that do not provide enough information and are already decided in a previous note (see https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2019/06/24/consultations-in-name-only/#comments ).

Subsequently I used the Freedom of Information Act to ask TfL for their consultation policy documents and guidelines, plus information on the costs and any cost/benefit analysis of the “Safer Speeds for London” proposals. That’s the proposal which will slow traffic to 20 mph on many major London roads and where there was a short (now closed) public consultation which did not contain evidence for justification.

TfL has supplied the information on their consultation policies and procedures and if anyone would like a copy, please let me know. In Principle 3 of the TfL Consultation Policy it says “We must provide consultees with enough information to understand what we are proposing so that they can respond on an informed basis”. That was certainly not done on the Safer Speeds proposal.

As regards my request for costs and cost/benefit data on the Safer Speeds proposal, TfL rejected my request on the basis that it is exempt information because the information requested “is intended for future publication” – see Section 22 of the FOI Act, and that it was not justified in the public interest. What is the point in publishing that information after the public consultation has ended? It looks like a simple attempt to avoid answering, or are they saying that they have not looked at the costs and costs/benefit before putting forward the Safer Speeds proposal? Either way, it is unreasonable so I am appealing.

This is of course the typical run around one gets with TfL when they don’t wish to disclose information. TfL are a secretive organisation that likes to develop proposals and present them as a fait-accompli with only public consultation on trivia. It has been that way ever since Ken Livingstone was in charge. It surely needs to change!

But according to a report in Local Transport Today (LTT) TfL is heading in the opposite direction. The report said that TfL is changing the way it engages and consults on active travel schemes. There will be “a greater emphasis on local engagement either in advance of, or potentially instead of, formal consultation”. It is suggested that to get the 73 safety critical road junctions in London improved they need to push through with projects and the public “has a limited ability to influence our proposals” – so there is no point in statutory consultations. But It also suggests road users will have less opportunity to comment, and of course a non-statutory consultation leaves little ability to mount a legal challenge.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Huge Increase in Speed Enforcement

Speed Camera 4The magazine Local Transport Today have run a story headlined “Met Police prepares for huge increase in speed enforcement”. They report that London police are planning a huge programme of speed limit enforcement with the aim of catching a million offenders a year. That’s up from 160,000 per annum at present.

That will be achieved by a large increase in speed camera activities including more mobile speed enforcement equipment. This is likely to mean aggressive enforcement of the 20 mph speed limits being brought in on many London roads.

The above information was disclosed at a meeting of London Councils, the representative body for London boroughs. That organisation is also looking at “decriminalisation” of speeding offences, which would effectively make it possible for local boroughs to enforce speed limits in the same way they do for parking offences at present.

What’s the real motivation behind these moves? It’s almost certainly about filling the coffers of the police by the offer of speed awareness courses, and also enabling local councils to fill their budget holes by also taking a cut of fees paid. Both organisations are under financial pressure and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is unwilling to help with the police budgets but would rather spend money on other things.

There is no evidence that lowering speed limits or more aggressive enforcement has any significant impact on road safety statistics. But politicians like gestures and many are only too pleased to kowtow to the anti-car fanatics. When it can be combined with excuses for revenue raising, it’s difficult to stop.

Just make sure you oppose it though.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Consultations in Name Only

Recent public consultations by Transport for London (TfL) have typically omitted any costs, or cost/benefit information, about the proposed schemes. For example on the “Safer Speeds” proposals for many more 20 mph speed limits in London, or Cycleway schemes. Nor do they ask a simple question as to whether people support the proposals overall or not.

I complained about those omissions in the ABD’s response to TfL and got a note back from Esme Yuill (Lead Consultation and Project Communications) which contained much waffle but did say “consultation is not usually about the principle of a project, but the proposed design”. In other words, the consultation is usually based on the project being a fait accompli and TfL have already decided to push ahead with it. That is not a consultation in the usual sense of the word, and clearly undermines the democratic principle that consultations should not assume pre-conceived notions.

Indeed this approach is contradictory to that laid down by the Government in their Consultation Principles where it says: “Consult about policies or implementation plans when the development of the policies or plans is at a formative stage”. See https://tinyurl.com/ycb3mwvk

That document also says: “Give enough information to ensure that those consulted understand the issues and can give informed responses. Include validated impact assessments of the costs and benefits of the options being considered when possible…..”. Neither of the recent consultations I referred to in my complaint (the “Safe Speeds for Central London” and the “Wood Lane/Notting Hill Gate” schemes) contained any costs or cost/benefit analysis and that has been a consistent omission in recent TfL consultations.

TfL has been one of the most impervious and undemocratic bodies since it was set up by Ken Livingstone. They do not listen to anyone. Indeed was it not Ken Livingstone who said “Consultation is a good thing when people agree with you, and a waste of time when people don’t agree with you” and TfL are clearly still following that principle. By avoiding consulting on the key questions as to whether projects should be done at all, and not informing respondents on the costs and cost/benefits, they are avoiding any meaningful consultation.

Is that the way that you think the body that runs transport in London and has one of the biggest budgets in the world should run consultations? I do not and I will be pursuing this matter.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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20 MPH Speed Limits Spreading in London

20 MPH Sign

Transport for London (TfL) have announced that 20 MPH speed limits are to be imposed on many central London roads. That will include many of the key arterial routes including:

Victoria Embankment, Upper/Lower Thames Street and Tower Hill, Albert Embankment, Millbank, Borough High Street, Blackfriars Road, Elephant and Castle roads and Aldgate “gyratory” even though that no longer exists.

These proposals are part of the “Vision Zero Action Plan” and Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Transport Strategy which we have strongly opposed (see  https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/against-mts.htm for campaign details). It’s just another step in discouraging and impeding vehicle traffic which is adding to journey times and damaging London.

Will it have any impact on road casualties as claimed? Highly unlikely as the City of London wide-area 20-MPH scheme has demonstrated where there was no overall reduction in road accidents and minor casualties actually increased. The solution to road casualties is to look at where accidents occur and re-engineer the roads. Not more speed cameras and lower speed limits.

There is a public consultation and more details of the proposal you can access here: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/streets/20/ . PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU RESPOND TO THE PUBLIC CONSULTATION ASAP.

These are some of the comments we have already submitted which you can copy:

“There proposals will not have any benefit for those walking and cycling but as it will slow bus journeys, the numbers travelling by bus will continue to fall as they have been lately, thus reducing TfL income.

As regards vehicle users, I think they will ignore the 20 limit as they do elsewhere if they consider the new speed limit inappropriate, as it undoubtedly will be in certain traffic conditions. It will just result in more speeding prosecutions which is already being used by the police to finance their operations by diversion to speed awareness courses – a totally unethical practice.

It will add delays to journeys. To minimise the impact, the solution would be to look at road engineering measures where too many accidents occur instead – and I don’t mean speed humps or tables which have a very negative impact on those with medical conditions. Indeed I would suggest that you are discriminating against the disabled by implementing raised tables.

A 20-mph speed limit will not reduce casualties as demonstrated by the statistics from the City of London’s 20 mph speed limit which actually resulted in minor accidents increasing and no overall benefit.

In summary we are opposed to these proposals in general, and there is no cost, or cost/benefit justification provided – this is yet another disgraceful example of a defective public consultation from TfL, with no simple question as to whether people support the proposals or not.”

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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City Pushes Ahead with 15 MPH Limit

 

15 MPH Sign

The City of London Corporation has decided to push ahead with their proposal for a 15-mph speed limit across the whole of the City. Almost all the elements of their proposed transport strategy that we covered last October are likely to be implemented including targets for vehicle reduction, zero emission roads, more space given to pedestrians and cyclists and other damaging proposals for taxi/PHV drivers and goods vehicles which service City businesses and residents.

The 15-mph limit is irrational because the limit of 20 mph they imposed in 2014 has proved to be totally ineffective in reducing accidents. In fact minor accidents went up. But City Corporation Council Members and staff of the Corporation seem to have been infected with paranoia and anti-car fever while ignoring the objections they received in a public consultation.

Although the average speed of traffic in the City is less than 10-mph there are some roads at some times of day where traffic of all kinds (including pedestrians) is low so it is safe to do a higher speed than 15-mph. Although it’s not going to have any impact on accident rates, drivers are likely to collect numerous PCNs for speeding. The City of London Police have been quite vigorous in enforcing the 20 limit so presumably will commit even more resources to this wasteful project.

The only thing that may stop the 15-mph limit is that it will require approval from the Department for Transport – there are no DfT approved signs for 15-mph for example. Let us hope they see sense and do so.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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City of London Corporation Ignores Representations

We reported previously on the consultation by the City of London Corporation (effectively one of the London boroughs) on their future transport strategy – see https://tinyurl.com/yd3qne6c . We opposed several aspects of the proposals including a City-wide speed limit of 15 mph and a zero emission vehicle only standard for the whole of the City. The “Unblock” body also made representations to change the routing of the East-West Cycle Superhighway from the Upper/Lower Thames Street route.

The Corporation has now reported on the results of the consultation and its proposed decisions. Although there were many individual objections by organisations and individuals, no significant changes to the proposals, including the points above, are being considered.

The reason is because there was overall support for reducing road traffic and putting walking first – as most of the respondents to the consultation will have been City workers, that may not be surprising. But it totally ignores the needs for those who have to service business activity in the City, and the practicality of these proposals. It seems that the City Corporation has been captured by the irrational anti-vehicle fanatics.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Mayor Lies at the People’s Question Time in Bexley

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA On the 14th March there was a “People’s Question Time” in Bexley where Mayor Sadiq Khan answered questions from the public (photo left).

It commenced by the Mayor suggesting that London’s roads were unsafe because he had no control over road safety in response to a question on junction improvement. He claimed that 95% of the roads are controlled by local boroughs, suggesting it was their fault. But in reality, the Mayor via TfL controls almost all the money spent on roads and road safety. TfL dictates what projects local boroughs can spend on by only funding what they like. In addition they dictate transport strategy directly. As a result, boroughs are forced to spend hundreds of millions of pounds on 20 mph wide area speed limits that have been proven to be totally ineffective, on cycle lanes, speed hump schemes and other pointless measures.

The Mayor was also criticised for spending £400 million on the proposed Rotherhithe cycle/pedestrian bridge, and when it came to policing there was applause from the audience when one person suggested he could solve the crime problem overnight by just diverting money spent on cycle lanes to the police.

When discussing public transport the Mayor said that London is the only city in the world that is not subsidised by Government. That is simply not true. TfL receives £3.2 billion in grants which is 31% of TfL’s income. Most of that money comes from taxes and much comes from central Government – see https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/how-we-work/how-we-are-funded .

In response to questions on the environment the Mayor said that London air is a killer which is a gross exaggeration. But he got one point right – namely that diesel buses are a major problem. He said the worst areas for air pollution in London are those with the most buses. He said they are not buying any more diesel buses and are retrofitting existing ones.

He got criticism on the ULEZ but apparently expects central Government to bail out folks who cannot afford to buy a new car, which is highly unlikely to happen.

His final major point was to promote another referendum on Brexit. What a pity that Parliament ruled it out the same day which probably pleased the audience and certainly pleased me.

You can see a recording of the meeting here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lmqgw6OjMD4

Mayor’s Tax Precept Rises

There were a number of criticisms of the Mayor’s financial policies at the meeting described above. London residents may have just realised that their local Council Tax is rising significantly this year and one reason is that the Mayor’s tax precept that you pay in your Council Tax, and is passed through to the GLA, is rising by 8.93%. That’s way ahead of inflation and is another example of the Mayor’s financial incompetence.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Richmond Ignores 20 Mph Vote, and Wandsworth’s Doubtful Claims

 

The London Borough of Richmond is set to ignore a public consultation where a majority of respondents opposed the introduction of a borough-wide 20 mph speed limit. The almost 10,000 respondents voted 47.9% in favour and 49.7% against. There was even less support for the notion that 20 mph speed limits will improve air quality and reduce car use.

However they have made some changes to the original proposals with more roads excluded from the scheme. See https://tinyurl.com/y2qcfz2m for more details.

Note that the LibDems won control of Richmond Council in 2018 when it had previously been Conservative controlled. They took over from LibDems in 2010 after the latter repeatedly ignored public opinion, e.g. over emission-based permit parking charges.

Comment: It looks like the LibDems are back to ignoring the results of public consultations, presumably because they think they know better. A very dubious decision which they will surely live to regret.

Wandsworth Claim 20 Mph Success, But Is It?

Meanwhile the neighbouring London Borough of Wandsworth have claimed a success for their borough-wide 20 Mph scheme which was implemented in 2017. Analysis of the first year post implementation data indicated a reduction of 9% in casualties although mean traffic speeds only fell by 0.6 mph. On that basis they have claimed it to be a success although casualties actually fell by 28% across all roads in the borough (which includes the Transport for London controlled main roads where the speed limit generally remained unchanged).

The other problem with this data is that using only a one-year post implementation period is known to distort the figures. A three-year before and after period is recommended by road safety engineers to avoid temporary reactions to perceived road changes.

But Wandsworth is claiming it as a success anyway and is looking to impose 20 mph limits on some major roads such as Putney High Street.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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