Road Safety News

Speed campaigner named Parliamentarian of the Month

Tuesday 2nd April 2013

Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge, has been named as Brake’s Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Month for his work campaigning for 20mph limits in his constituency and across the UK.

In 2006, as leader of the Lib Dems in Cambridgeshire County Council, Julian urged the council to reconsider its position on 20mph limits. After three years of campaigning, the council agreed to trial 20mph limits in small areas in Cambridge city centre.

In early 2010, he led the All-Party Parliamentary Cycle Group (he would later join as an MP), through a city tour of Cambridge. In 2011, the year after he was elected, Julian began campaigning for widespread 20mph limits across Cambridge. In March 2013, the council announced that almost all roads in the city centre would see 20mph introduced.

Since 2012, Julian has also been leading an inquiry for the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group on making cycling safer.

Julian Huppert said: “I am delighted to win this award for a campaign which is so important for making our roads safer and saving lives. I want to see 20mph limits introduced across all built up areas where cars are likely to come into contact with pedestrians, children walking to school and cyclists.

“Slowing down speeds in these areas just makes sense and keeps people safe. I am delighted Cambridge City Council is expanding its 20mph limits and I hope councils across the UK will follow its lead.”

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive at Brake, said: “Julian's tireless campaign to make walking and cycling safer through 20mph limits, both in his constituency and nationally, will have a big impact on the lives of people in Cambridge and across the country.

“As part of the GO 20 campaign, Brake is fighting for everyone's right to walk or cycle safely, without fear from fast traffic. By calling for widespread lower limits and debunking myths about 20mph, Julian has brought this vision a little closer.”

Call Franki Hackett at Brake on 01484 550063 for more information.


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Rod and Eric:
Can I suggest that you continue your dialogue on this matter privately. Thanks.
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety GB newsfeed

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You are trying to create another smoke screen because 20mph does not improve road safety. I would be very interested in your second rebuttal attempt - you have my contact details.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

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I will dig it out Eric. I guess most people won't be too interested in the rebuttal of the rebuttal of the rebuttal of the pamphlet.

You are of course suggesting that casualties have a direct relationship with traffic volume are you? And do you want the trend to be compared with the national trend for built up area? Do you want it to exclude or include motorways and 40mph/50mph roads? What did you use in your analysis?
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us, Cheshire

Agree (1) | Disagree (4)

As part of the Chichester 20mph campaign you issued a "rebuttal" of my conference handout. I responded to every point, exposing the flaws in your position with regard to road safety and casualties in particular.

If you cannot find any example where 20mph can be credited with a reduction in serious injuries (after adjustment for traffic volume and trend) you have no claim that 20mph improves road safety.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (5) | Disagree (3)

By evidence, do you mean the pamphlet you distributed at last year's 20mph places conference?
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us, Cheshire

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Just returning this thread after a few days away and needing to counter Rod King.
My claim that "Every 20mph scheme has resulted in increased serious injuries, when adjusted for traffic volume and compared to national trends" is based on my review of all data that I have had access to. I do not need to provide more evidence. To disprove it, Rod simply needs to find a single example where an improvement in serious injuries, when adjusted for traffic and trends, can be attributed to a speed limit reduction to 20mph.

If 20mph improved road safety, the 20's Plenty website would contain extensive claims and evidence to that effect. It does not.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (7) | Disagree (3)

Further comment on 20 limits in residential areas (and a comment which also applies to speed limits generally): it's only an upper limit, not a precise speed to be constantly maintained. One or two commentators seem to think the idea is to drive at 20 - no more and no less - and are consequently being concerned about watching their speedo too much - make it 'less' and give yourself that extra margin - both in safety terms and legal terms.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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To Julian Huppert MP: You will notice that there are many people who believe 20mph speed limits cause greater, not fewer, serious casualties. Therefore, to be constructive, may I suggest/request that you introduce 20mph in scientific trials so that the road safety effects can be quantified? This page shows how to do this (just substitute 20mph for speed cameras):

I'd be very surprised, Steve, if most casualty rises are “from drivers exceeding the speed limit”. Over 96% of casualties occur when drivers are not speeding, and speeding as a contributory factor has been declining, despite thousands of reduced speed limits. See table 1.1 here:

Can you cite any evidence for your claim?
Dave, Slough

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Just a pointer.

In the casualty rises - it's stated clearly that most of them are from drivers exceeding the speed limit. Maybe 20 mph simply need better policing and signage? And we need to educate people that the limit is exactly that, not a target or minimum.
Steve, Merseyside

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Yes Eric . Very selective, yet you claim that "EVERY 20mph scheme has resulted in increased serious injuries, when adjusted for traffic volume and compared to national trends". Really. I haven't seen you present any evidence for this.

Yes, you have shown a few cherry-picked samples, but you know that I have refuted your analysis and findings on each of these.

The people who are responsible for setting speed limits are more and more choosing 20mph in residential and urban streets.
Rod King, Cheshire

Agree (13) | Disagree (5)

Selective Rod?
EVERY 20mph scheme has resulted in increased serious injuries, when adjusted for traffic volume and compared to national trends. In some cases, traffic volume is down and serious injuries are up. It's up to you to find a single example where a road safety improvement can be attributed to a reduction of the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph. I've asked for this on a number of occasions but you have been unable to provide it.

My surmise, based on my safety engineering background, is that vulnerable road users are encouraged to feel safer and hence take less care; the results appear to support that.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (10) | Disagree (16)


Its because Eric's figures are selective and are based upon very low numbers. They seem to mean a lot to Eric and a few others, especially those who want to ban speed cameras, cyclists, etc.

And officers in the local authorities concerned seem to take a far more objective view and come to a positive conclusion in favour of 20mph limits.
Rod King, Cheshire

Agree (10) | Disagree (9)

Eric makes the point that there are increased casualties in 20mph, largely due to vulnerable users feeling safer and taking less care. I have never seen Rod produce any figures to counter that argument. Perhaps because there aren't any.
Bobbio Chiswell Green

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Nic (or anyone else with this problem) - switch to automatic transmission. Less likelihood of collisions all round anyway, epcially if you train yourself to left-foot brake.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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Perception here is key, driving at 20mph may be safer but it is only safer if drivers are actually doing that speed, this tends to be when the road topography suggests such a speed to the driver (and can be evidenced by low speed data).

We also know from studies not just within road safety but in other fields such as health and wellbeing, that what people say they do (or will do) and what they actually do are two very different things. So whilst it can be evidenced that driving at 20mph is safer, with little or no traffic calming and limited enforcement due to sheer resources then it maybe unlikely that many drivers will do 20mph unless forced to.

This then creates danger for pedestrians (including children who often can't correctly tell speed of traffic due to the looming effect) and cyclists who assume that the speed of the traffic is lower then it actually is, and do not feel they need to take the necessary precautions they may otherwise have taken on a busier road. Even on roads that meet DfT criteria for a 20 limit (24mph mean speed) this does not necessarily equate to traffic travelling at or under 20mph in the majority.
Kathryn, York

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20 mph is a great idea, and I fully support the campaign, especially so, as I'm a bikeability cycling instructor. However, have any of you tried driving at 20mph? It's actually quite tricky, not least because my car doesn't seem to have a gear well suited to that speed. However drive at 40km/hr and presto, so much easier. Maybe our cars are designed for km/hr and not mph? 25 is plenty for us doesn't quite have the same ring to it either! Do be naughty, drive at 40! (km/hr that is!) Hmm.
Nic, Cardiff

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Seeing the wider uptake in 20mph limits across the UK is very heartening. Eric makes the point about rising casualty figures. Locally in Wandsworth the casualty trends for motor vehicle passengers and drivers are improving, but for people on foot or on bikes they are getting worse.

Reducing the speed at which vehicles drive through busy spaces is a simple way of reducing the forces involved in any collisions that do take place. It is part of reducing danger at source, rather than trying to pick up the pieces after incidents have happened.

I'm looking forward to when our local borough will move forward from their two local trials, and consult with residents borough wide on their views on 20mph as Camden has done recently.
Jon Irwin, Wandsworth

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Thanks Rod and Eric - points well made. Now let's see what others think.
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety GB newsfeed

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That's because you have failed to prove your assumptions. Given that half the opponents of 20mph limits say it will bring traffic to a halt and seriously disrupt UK communications and the other half saying it will make no difference at all to vehicle speeds then I see little point in trying to refute what are simply unfounded opinions, based on cherry-picked statistics.

In the meantime local authorities who do have the responsibility and backed by government guidance are getting on with endorsing that 30mph is not an acceptable speed in community streets.
Rod King, Cheshire

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Rod, You fail to explain how a "better community street environment everywhere" can be reconciled with increased casualties in 20mph, largely due to vulnerable users feeling safer and taking less care when traffic is travelling at much the same speeds as it was before 20mph was imposed.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

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Rather than thinking that 20mph limits are only for kids outside schools, I and the vast majority of people are prepared to travel at a lower speed wherever we mix with people whether young, old, on bikes, or walking. It's all about taking the debate beyond the school gates and its implications for a better community street environment everywhere.
Rod King, Cheshire

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It's not the limit that causes the problem, it's whether people obey it. 20 limits look nice and safe with road humps etc but how many drivers think "Ah it's 9.30 now, the kids are in school, I can speed up a bit". We all know "our brakes are brilliant and are reactions are at least as good as Lewis Hamilton's so a bit of extra speed will surely be OK". There has to be enforcement as well as road engineering.
Jim Angus Tenbury Wells

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One of the major problems with democracy, and increasingly so, it seems to me, is that so many elected people make important decisions on subjects that they do not begin to understand.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

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And every local authority that has implemented wide-area 20mph pilots came to the conclusion when fully analysing the results that they should be rolled out across the whole authority.

And that's why more and more local authorities are responding to the latest DfT guidance which is even more supportive of 20mph limits.

Well done Julian Huppert for playing his part in helping to create communities that are simply better places to be.
Rod King, Cheshire

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But the reality is that serious injuries in every 20mph areas have increases, when adjusted for traffic volume and national trends. The last time I checked Cambridge, the council Minutes were in despair that casualties were not coming down. Many will disagree with this view, but I invite them to find an example where that is not the case.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (16) | Disagree (9)