This report presents the results from the borough wide consultation carried out during the summer 2015.
Councillor Culhane explained that on 9 June the Community Safety, Environment and Residents’ Services Policy and Accountability Committee had launched the consultation on a borough-wide 20mph speed limit with a lively debate. The Consultation ran until 31 July, with more than five thousand responses being received. The Committee now needed to consider the responses to the consultation and what the Council ought to do next. He explained that all comments made would be recorded and passed on to the Cabinet, should members choose to pass the report on.
Councillor Harcourt, Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport and Residents’ Services, explained that introducing a 20mph zone into residential streets was a manifesto commitment. He also said that the administration was committed to working with residents, and that the consultation, which TfL had funded, was part of this second commitment. He was pleased that 5,200 responses had been received, which was a very large turnout for this type of consultation. Councillor Harcourt stressed that no decision about what would happen next had been taken and encouraged those present to give their views.
Nick Ruxton-Boyle, Chief Transport Planner, said that about 30% of roads in the borough were already in one of seventeen ‘home zones’ and therefore already had a 20mph speed limit. He explained that the first consultation he had undertaken upon joining the council had been the introduction of the ‘home zone’ in Wormholt. There had been 25 casualties in the five years before the zone was introduced, but only 17 in the last five years, a reduction of 30%.
The council had decided to consult residents on a borough-wide 20mph speed limit for six main reasons. These were:
• To address a real danger
• To reduce deaths and injuries
• To reduce accidents
• To make our children and all of us healthier
• To cut delays on the road
• To make our neighbourhoods more pleasant.
Mr Ruxton-Boyle explained that the 20mph proposal was only one of many projects designed to improve road safety in the borough, with engineering works and education programmes also planned.
The first question in the consultation had been ‘Do you support a borough-wide 20mph speed limit on roads managed by Hammersmith and Fulham Council?’ 45% of respondents had been in favour of the limit being applied to all council managed roads, with a further 26% being in favour of the limit on most roads (they were asked to state which ones they wanted to be exempt). 29% of respondents were against the proposal. Most of those who were in favour of the limit, but not for all roads, wanted to retain the 30mph speed limit on main roads. He noted however that the majority of casualties occurred on the main road network. Nick Ruxton-Boyle explained that there had been substantial opposition to the inclusion of Fulham Palace Road in a 20mph zone, but noted that there were high casualty figures as the road passed north of Lillie Road. He also said that the most popular traffic calming feature had been more speed humps, although he noted that lots more people had been against humps than for them. Mr Ruxton-Boyle explained that many London Boroughs had already implemented borough-wide 20mph speed limits, and more were being considered. He explained that recently taken speed surveys could be repeated to assess the impact of any changes.
Councillor Dewhirst noted that Fulham Palace Road tended to have more accidents when traffic was moving slowly, and felt that a 20mph limit would not solve all of the problems on the borough’s roads.
Councillor Hamilton was unhappy that additional information had been included in the presentation, which had not been in the report. He also felt that statistics had been presented in a misleading way, as 26% of respondents who had supported only some roads being included in a 20mph zone had been included in the 71% quoted on the Council’s website as supporting a 20mph speed limit. Officers explained that there was a majority in support of every single road in the borough being included in a 20mph limit. This majority was made up of the 45% of people who supported the limit in every road, and those of the 26% who supported a 20mph limit but had not mentioned either the individual road or type of road.
David Millar, a resident, said that it was wrong for the council to be adding the results of open questions to those of closed questions to show majority support for a 20mph limit on any individual road. He wanted to discuss his concerns about the use of statistics with officers outside of the meeting. Mr Millar also felt that the idea of a 20mph limit was flawed as drivers paid attention to the road conditions rather than speed limits.
Councillor Hamilton said that he had raised concerns about the consultation documents when the issue was discussed at the committee, but this had been too late for his concerns to be acted upon as the survey had already been printed. He thought that yes but not primary roads and yes but not primary or secondary roads ought to have been included as options for the public. The Chair said that there was a fine balance to be struck when writing a consultation, as open questions both shortened the length of a questionnaire and allowed residents more freedom to express their views, but were more difficult to interpret than a simple closed question. He also noted the very high response rate which he felt might make up for some of the issues being raised about the consultation.
Councillor Hamilton said that he would be interested to see the number of yes responses overlaid onto a map of the existing 20mph zones, the locations of accidents overlaid against existing traffic speed data, and whether those who were unhappy with the inclusion of Fulham Palace Road in the proposed limit lived near to the road.
A resident said that only 3,718 of the borough’s 180,000 residents had voted for the proposals, and felt that the press releases had been misleading. He also felt that some of the information the Council had presented as fact was more like assumption. Louise Raisey explained that whilst she agreed that the headline did not say that it was 71% of those residents who had responded who supported the limit, this was due to the importance of brevity. She explained that the full article on the website made the number of people in favour clear; she also noted that all residents had had the opportunity to participate in the consultation.
Rosemary Petit, a resident, explained that she felt the consultation had been misleading, and that this might have discouraged residents from responding. She also felt that residents ought to have been given a choice of measures available to reduce speed limits rather than being asked to suggest what they wanted.
Lisa Freeman, a representative of students studying in the borough, said that she supported the 20mph limit, and that she was pleased that the council was looking to improve road safety. She thought that improving pedestrian and cycle routes was also important.
Philip Barton, a resident, stated that the open questions used in the consultation had not been helpful. He asked whether there was any evidence of the impacts of 20mph limits in other boroughs, although he noted that there was a significant reduction in the likelihood of death or serious injury if a car were to hit someone at 20mph rather than 30mph. Nick Ruxton-Boyle explained that most other borough-wide 20mph zones were too recent to provide any meaningful evidence. He also noted that the other road safety and air quality measures used in other boroughs would make it difficult to disaggregate the impact of a borough-wide 20mph zone in Hammersmith and Fulham.
A resident said that he had carried out his own research which indicated that most accidents took place at under 20mph; he thought that low speeds might make people complacent. He suggested that different speed limits could be applied during the day and at night, when traffic volumes were lower. He opposed a blanket 20mph policy, but supported targeted 20mph zones, and was concerned that the council had initially spoken about a limit for residential roads, and that this had been extended to all roads in the borough by the time the proposal had been consulted upon. He also raised concerns that not all residents had received a copy of the consultation. The Chair said that it would be useful if the resident could share his research with officers.
Councillor Cassidy said that in his view 20mph zones had a wider impact than just reducing speed limits; the areas with 20mph zones also felt more homely and in this way encouraged people to use the roads more sensibly. He noted that almost all roads in the borough had people living on them and were as such residential; he would be interested to see what residents of those larger, wider roads thought about their inclusion in a 20mph zone.
Jeremy Leach, a representative of the campaign group 20’s Plenty for Us, said that where speed limits were reduced to 20mph the number of casualties reduced significantly. He said that main roads were also people’s streets, and that a fairer balance between motorists and other road users needed to be struck. Mr Leech also explained that police were now happy with 20mph limits being introduced without physical traffic calming measures.
A resident said that a 20mph limit would not be obeyed by all drivers, and that this could be more dangerous, possibly causing more reckless driving as people tried to overtake or tailgate to encourage other drivers to break the speed limit. Councillor Cassidy felt that leaving some roads with higher speed limits might also encourage residents to think of these as fast roads, and therefore drive less cautiously along them. John Griffiths, a local resident, noted that many drivers already drove poorly, citing a recent accident as an example; he felt that the possibility of this continuing ought not to prevent a 20mph limit being introduced. He noted that Community Roadwatch schemes could help to enforce speed limits and also thought that some drivers obeying the speed limit would encourage others to do so. Chris Bainbridge, Head of Transport Policy and Network Management explained that drivers were indeed likely to exceed the speed limit, and predicted average speeds of between 20-25mph; he noted however that drivers currently exceeded 30mph speed limits by a similar amount.
Councillor Coleman, Cabinet Member for Commercial Revenue and Resident Satisfaction, said that the statistics about the likelihood of a casualty dyeing as a result of a road accident at different speeds were a persuasive argument for lowering speed limits to 20mph; at 40mph the chance was 30%, at 30mph the chance was less than 10% and at 20mph the chance of a death was about 2%. He felt that problems with enforcement could be dealt with in innovative ways, for example, engaging with companies carrying out home deliveries. Councillor Coleman also noted that the response to the consultation had been very high and this ought not to be ignored.
Lynne Seveke, Chair of H&F Cyclists, explained that 20mph zones were nicer places to live and had significant benefits for children and the elderly. Warrington Borough Council had introduced a 20mph limit and the scheme had paid for itself in a short period of time as the number of accidents had reduced drastically. She fully supported a borough-wide 20mph speed limit.
Melanie Whitlock, a resident, said that she supported a reduction in the speed limit as it would reduce the number of more serious accidents, but noted that education of road users was also very important.
Councillor Harcourt said that he was grateful for the discussion which had given him plenty to think about. He said that the points made about the likelihood of death at different speeds had been powerful, and that the success of existing zones also added weight to the argument for more of the borough’s roads having a 20mph speed limit. He noted the concerns people had raised about enforcement and whether a borough-wide 20mph speed limit was proportionate, although he noted that hotspots for accidents tended to be where main roads passed through town centres.
That the committee request that the Cabinet consider the outcome of the consultation, noting the discussion which had been held at the meeting.
Councillors Culhane, Cassidy and Holder voted in favour of the motion whilst Councillors Dewhirst and Hamilton voted against it.