Graham Burrell introduced the report saying that the Council had extended its 20mph zones to all residential roads and town centres, whilst deciding to leave some of the borough’s principal roads with 30mph limits. So far, only signs and road markings had been used to reduce the speeds on these roads to the new limit, however, as the Cabinet report agreeing the extension of the 20mph zones had anticipated, further measures were likely to be necessary in some areas. The speed surveys in the report had been carried out to see what impact the signage and markings had had on speed and to identify where further measures were necessary.
Councillor Culhane asked how speeds were measured during the survey. Slobodan Vuckovic explained that 100 roads, randomly selected, had been measured for a week before the new 20mph limit had been introduced; these same roads had been surveyed again a few months after the introduction of the limit. The surveys were carried out using automatic traffic counters which, he explained, were the rubber tubes which residents might have seen placed across the road.
A resident felt that more enforcement of the 20mph limit was necessary, including police enforcement. He complained that despite the speed limit cars regularly drove much too quickly down Kelvedon Road. Graham Burrell explained that the police would now enforce 20mph speed limits but that schemes did need to be largely self-enforcing as there were a great many roads with a 20mph limit and relatively few police officers. Physical measures to slow drivers would help to ensure that the speed limits were always obeyed. Jeremy Leach, Campaign Co-ordinator for Twenty’s Plenty for Us, explained that Community Roadwatch was a scheme whereby residents, with the support of Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police, could measure vehicle speeds providing not only a deterrent, but also allowing offenders to be written to. Councillor Harcourt said that there were already a few Community Roadwatch schemes in the borough and that he hoped more would develop. He said that the Council had installed a number of sinusoidal speed humps which provided a smoother ride whilst being very effective at preventing speeding as Councillor Harcourt had found recently when driving close to the speed limit over the hump. The Council also intended to use Vehicle Activated Signs to encourage residents not to speed.
Councillor Dewhirst said that he didn’t feel that the 0.31mph reduction in the average 85th percentile speed justified the introduction of the 20mph zones; he felt that a more targeted approach, tackling individual streets where speeding was a particular problem, would have been a better use of resources. Graham Burrell explained that the 20mph extension had been implemented as a result of an extensive consultation which showed that residents wanted the lower speed limit. He explained that it had never been anticipated that simply installing signs would reduce speeds on all roads and that one of the purposes of the traffic survey was to identify which streets needed further measures to reduce speed. A resident said that she felt it was too early to tell if the change in speed limits would reduce speed as had been hoped as drivers’ habits took time to change.
A resident asked whether there had been any reduction in the number of accidents in the borough. Graham Burrell explained that there was a time lag in the Police verifying and releasing casualty data. No casualty data for the period since the 20mph extension had been launched was available. He also explained that in order to ensure that there is sufficient data to carry out a statistically meaningful analysis of casualties it was usual to compare data for the 36 months before and 36 months after implementation of a scheme and so the impact would not be known until late 2019 at the earliest.
Councillor Hamilton felt that the main impact of the scheme had been to make motorists lawbreakers. He felt that the Council’s focus ought to be on areas where accidents had taken place and that speed limits ought only to be reduced where speeding had been shown to be a reason for an accident. Councillor Harcourt said that the Council reviewed accident sites with the police to identify if any improvements could be made to the area to reduce the likelihood of further accidents taking place.
A resident said that more measures were needed to calm traffic; it was noted that the ideal situation would be for cars to move more slowly but not get stuck in traffic so often.
The Chair asked whether speed limits were being harmonised with neighbouring boroughs. Slobodan Vuckovic explained that most neighbouring boroughs had 20mph limits on significant parts of their road networks and that work to reduce speed limits on connecting roads, such as Stamford Brook Road, was being done by other Councils.
The Chair asked whether buses would be restricted to 20mph when in 20mph zones. Jeremy Leach explained that from 2019 all new London buses would be fitted with Intelligent Speed Assistance which would limit them to the speed limit of the road they were travelling along.