Before the local elections in 2014 we had a lot of requests from constituents to look into introducing 20mph speed limits, to make our residential roads safer. Many parts of inner London have already had 20 mph speed limits for some time and other cities and towns are following suit – Liverpool, Oxford, Cambridge, York, Portsmouth and Bristol for example.
In the election campaign in 2014 the Labour Party promised to introduce 20 mph speed limits where residents want them and we have recently started the process of asking residents if they want us to do this. Residents in parts of Croydon North will have noticed the purple posters on lamp post inviting you to ‘Have your say’ on the council’s proposal to introduce 20mph speed limits in residential roads.
There is now a strong feeling amongst many people that we should make our residential roads safer and pleasanter and reducing speeds is an important part of this. A pedestrian who is hit by a car travelling at 20 mph has a 97% chance of surviving; at 30 mph this goes down to 80%, so one in five will die and at 35 mph half of the casualties will die (Living Streets 2011). Slower speeds really do save lives. And those cities and boroughs that have introduced 20 mph speed limits have seen a drop in pedestrian accidents.
As the cabinet member for Transport and Environment in Croydon I believe passionately that we need to do more to make our roads safer and more pleasant for pedestrians and cyclists; I want to see more children walking to school and more people making local trips by bike. Slowing down traffic speeds is one step on the way to achieving this aim.
We have started our 20 mph project in Croydon North because this is the part or Croydon where we get a lot of traffic on the residential roads and a lot of rat running. This is partly because this part of Croydon became built up before the car was our main mode of transport. Places that were built up after the car became common tend to be designed in such a way that cars are less likely to be using the streets to drive though on their way to somewhere else. That’s the case in much of the southern part of Croydon. This is probably why most of the requests for 20 mph speed limits have also come from the northern half of Croydon. Last year, in South Norwood where I am a Councillor, we asked residents if they would like to see 20 mph speed limits introduced and 70% of those who responded said yes.
There are other benefits to reducing the speed of cars in residential roads. Slower cars make the roads feel more pleasant and where this has happened, such as Bristol, more people walk some of their short local journeys rather than drive. Walking is really good exercise and just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, can lead to big improvements in health. We want to make Croydon a pleasanter place for walking and for cycling so that our residents can do some simple things to improve their health. 20 mph speed limits is part of this work.
Please respond to our survey at www.croydon.gov.uk/20mph by midnight on 24th June