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Date: 28 April 2014

Today's Topic: 80% of public back 20mph speed limits

Triggers: Something I read on Confused.com

My Grump: You could lower it to 5mph, but the drips who drive at 50 in a 30 will still cause all the accidents.

The vast majority of people support a cut in the urban speed limit, new research shows. Almost 80% of the public wants a stricter speed limit in residential areas and town centres of 20mph, a cut of 10mph from the present 30mph.

This is according to a survey carried out by road safety charity Brake and Allianz Insurance.

Almost everyone agrees that the streets where they live should be made safer for walking and cycling, and around 80% say that traffic travels too fast on at least some of their local roads.

Julie Townsend, Brake’s deputy chief executive, says: "We need to tackle the senseless and violent casualties that continue to happen daily on our roads". Very good Julie, but the people that travel within the current 30mph aren't the ones killing people, it's the ones who speed and career around corners and junctions without due care and attention or looking where they are going who are doing all the killing and maiming. 20mph won't stop them, will it?

According to the Department for Transport, the number of casualties resulting from road accidents dropped by more than a fifth following the introduction of a 20mph limit in parts of Portsmouth in 2010. Many more local authorities are following this trend or have at least started pilot schemes, including all cities as well as larger towns and villages.

I can understand this near schools and to help the Lollypop Lady, as this is good road sense, ensuring shorter stopping distances and less chance of accidents. But everywhere else in town too? How will these lower speed limits be enforced? The cops are all too busy sat in their patrol cars playing scrabble or listening to classic FM.

Is it going to be another half-wit community project again, with the retired and dysfunctional pointing radar guns at us all over the place?

20mph traffic zone The facts are these: sensible drivers will still drive sensibly, and the speeders will continue to speed, period!

I've got an idea: Why not make it a criminal offence to walk across the road without looking both ways, at least once?

And another thing; it's all very well saying that reduced limits cause the number of casualties to fall. This may be true, but the implication of improved health to cyclists and walkers is also regularly suggested as an added side benefit.

This is of course not true, at least, not altogether. If you slow traffic by a third, they spend more time in your street pumping out diesel fumes and smut. Fuel burns most efficiently at speed meaning that city pollution will increase. The more you keep traffic moving the more efficient the use of fuel and the less pollution in the air.

I'm only pointing that out, it's not a reason not to go ahead with the cuts.

However, this is still not quite the whole story.

Almost everyday some idiot walks across the road in front of me without looking. Instead they are staring at their mobile phone (as if that will keep them safe), or off in dreamland listening to their bleeding iPod. No, instead these people rely on my looking ahead, watching the road, watching the pavement, looking to see that I'm not 2mph over the limit, checking my mirror, changing gear, stopping and starting in traffic, watching for the lights to change, and everything else that I need to do to drive through a busy street. Frankly, for some bizarre reason all of the responsibility is now mine, because I have the audacity to drive a bloody car. Otherwise, my insurance and my license are at risk. Now I have to be responsible for your ankles, your legs and your life, because you don't seem to give a sh*t about your own welfare.
The Green Cross Code Man
When I were a lad my parents taught me to cross the road. In fact so did Darth Vader, in his alter ego as The Green Cross Code Man, or Dave Prowse. All of this taught me it was MY responsibility to keep MYSELF safe on the road. The rule was, if I do my bit, and the driver does their bit, we all get home safely. Where has that gone? For heaven's sake, even Tufty had a road safety game!

When we got bikes we did road safety drills and passed our Cycling Proficiency Test. This meant we kept to the side of the road, looked both ways, signalled and had lights on our bikes. Nowadays, cyclist seem to want to go down the middle of the road, like they are tempting you to hit them so they can claim off your insurance.

Actually, that thought just occurred to me as I was typing. Is that the game of riding two abreast in narrow lanes? Or, riding with no lights? Or, finding that signalling is just too much effort? Or, swerving into the road at the last second? Makes you wonder, and if it's true, pretty sick.

When only one half of road users have all the responsibility, there will always be chaos, sorry, but that's life!

Please share your thoughts below, thank you.



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