Environment, Economy and Culture O Committee
11th November 2008
Task group: 20 mile Speed Limits
1.1 That this paper which includes additional comments and seeks to provide greater clarity is referred to the Executive along with the updated report.
1.2 The Environment Economy and Culture Overview and Scrutiny Committee met on the 9th September 2008 and considered the task groups report. With some small amendments they commended the report to the Executive.
1.3 The Executive met on the 23rd September and considered the 20mph report. Following this meeting it was agreed:
(a) That the recommendations of the Task Group be approved, in principle, noting the agreed drafting changes in the text referred to at the meeting;
(b) that the Overview/Scrutiny Committee and its Task Group be asked to review its recommendations with a view to clarifying a number of ambiguities identified at the meeting relating to enforcement of speed limits and related safety issues and promotion of alternative means of achieving the same objectives;
(c) that arrangements be made for all Town and Parish Council's to be made aware of the current position with regard to enforcement of 20mph sped limits though if possible, a joint statement for the Executive Director for Environment, Economy & Culture and the Chief Constable of the Devon & Cornwall Constabulary.
1.4 This paper seeks to address (b) by looking at some of the concerns and challenges that were raised in regard to the report. These are detailed on the table below with possible suggestions as to the task group's response. The table paraphrases the challenges to the report that were raised in the Executive meeting and includes actions to address those concerns where appropriate.
1.5 The amended report is attached.
Task Group answer
Recommendation 9: That representation is made to government to change the guidance governing 20mph limits in line with the notice of motion (3.2).
This recommendation is not in accord with the evidence in the report in particular that the Police Service will support and enforce 20mph; it is also ambiguous in what is required.
The guidance suggests traffic engineering works, they are not a requirement therefore there is no need to change the current situation.
The Police Service has given an undertaking to support 20mph limits provided that where necessary there will be engineering works.
Government guidance suggested that 20mph limits should be self enforcing.
Although this is not a statutory requirement the limit is still treated differently to all other speed limits which do not suggest interventions to enforce.
Action: Recommendation amended: 'That representation is made to government requesting a change in the guidance governing 20mph to bring it in line with all other speed limits by removing the guidance of the limit being self enforcing through calming measures. These are not always applied and can lead to confusion about the legal status of the speed limit.'
Enforcement vs. Safety
The focus of using an intervention is to improve safety. The use of 20mph needs to be applied with this view.
Even to the extent where 20mph limits can be applied to reduce the speed. E.g. in a 30 limit where motorists consistently break the limit, reducing to a 20 would still mean that motorists break the limit, but would reduce their overall speed.
The task group recognises the need to promote safety where ever possible and lowering limits can have that effect. However it was understood that the legislation and guidance over introduction required the limit to be low already and not to use a 20mph limit alone to reduce speed:
'Circular Roads 1/93: If observed 85th percentile speeds are above 24 mph, then it is unlikely a 20 mph speed limit would be appropriate, unless traffic calming measures can be provided.'
This point is also made in the report (although paraphrased) under 5.1 (pg 9).
The evidence that the task group received suggested that lowering the speed limit to 20mph would not automatically ensure speed reduction. In fact in Kensington an increase in the speed limit actually obtained greater compliance as drivers felt the limit was more reasonable (6.12)
Action: No change to the report
20mph limits outside schools
There needs to be clarity over 20mph outside schools should all schools have a part time 20mph limit (only in operation at peak times)?
Currently the report does not recommend this.
The report does not recommend a blanket approach to 20mph outside all schools part time or not.
Currently there are small numbers of child casualties in Devon (7.2) Only 17% of casualties took place within 200m of a school. The question that needs to be asked is: would imposing a part time 20mph limit outside all schools significantly improve safety? The evidence that the task group found is that this would not improve safety at every school.
Action: Task group makes an additional recommendation: That speed limits outside schools are assessed on an individual basis, for example if identified in a school travel plan, and where necessary actions are taken to improve child safety. This may or may not include a part time 20mph limit or any other intervention.
Appendix 3; detail of traffic calming measures
Appendix 3 seeking to be prescriptive by giving a wish list from which town and parish councils etc can pick interventions.
The inclusion of the appendix was for illustration purposes only it did not seek to create a wish list. In fact it should be taken in light of the final point 8.5 which identifies that the whole street area is more important than one-off interventions.
Action: No change to the report
 http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/tpm/tal/trafficmanag ement/20mphspeedlimitsandzones?page=4