Time for Twenty?

As a result of writing a blog on London’s cycling infrastructure yesterday I reviewed several statistical releases about casualties arising from traffic incidents. One figure struck me and got me thinking about the issue of road safety in Wandsworth. In 2012 there were 9 fatalities on 20 mph roads as opposed to 595 deaths on roads where the limit was 30 mph. [1]  I cannot find any figures that allow me to flex these figures for miles of road that are 20 mph and 30 mph but it seems a compellingly stark statistic.

it is also worth nothing that pedestrian fatalities are disproportionately spread amongst the moe vulnerable age groups. Children and the elderly comprise 48.3% of all pedestrian fatalities and 48.7% of all serious injuries. [1]. Transport for London have produced a report which shows a 42% reduction in casualties in 20 mph zones, with the main beneficiaries of this reduction being children aged up to 15 [2]. I think that we owe these people the highest duty of care. If one believes that it then seems remiss not to tailor our speed limit to reduce the danger to them.

Wandsworth has one of the highest percentage of residents not owning a vehicle in the country (55.7%) [3]. Despite this much of our urban landscape in the borough is seemingly designed to prioritise the motor vehicle. The safety of our citizens should be paramount and yet it would appear that we as a borough have been catering more to the structural needs of others. 

To offer a local example, crossing Battersea Church Road can feel rather like playing the old computer game Frogger. The turns make it very difficult to reliably judge traffic and when best to cross. This is exacerbated for the more vulnerable pedestrians such as the elderly and those with a pram who inevitably would take longer to cross the road, and in the case of the elderly be more likely to have problems with seeing and hearing.

Wandsworth has had a trial of  20 mph in West Putney and Dover House Road and seen a drop in the casualty rate from 7 to 2.18 in West Putney and from 3.66 to 3.27 in Dover House Road. [4]. As such it has been shown that the scheme could have a beneficial impact on safety locally and the council has agreed that if 25 per cent of people living in an area give their approval then a 20 mph limit can be introduced. I hope that it is introduced in St Mary’s Park ward soon.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/245387/rrcgb-2012-complete.pdf

[2] http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/20-mph-zones-and-road-safety-in-london.pdf

[3] http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/publications/re-reference-tables.html?edition=tcm%3A77-286262

[4] http://ww3.wandsworth.gov.uk/moderngov/documents/s28018/13-430%2020mph%20Review%20OSC%20-%20Report.pdf

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