Road Safety News

Manchester set to introduce more 20mph areas

Wednesday 15th May 2013

Manchester City Council looks set to introduce more 20mph speed limits in three areas across the city.

There are already 138 smaller 20mph zones outside schools in Manchester but the council is committed to installing 20mph speed limits on all non-major residential roads and will use £500,000 of public health funding for the first phase of the project. The plans will be discussed at an executive meeting of the council on 29 May.

The council says the move is intended to “make Manchester’s roads safer for children and more attractive fro residents”. It also believes it will reduce crashes and encourage more people to cycle and walk in residential areas.

The funding, which is enough to cover three parts of the city, will be allocated to “areas of greatest need to keep children safe”. National statistics show that a child from a deprived area is five times more likely to be killed or seriously injured from a road collision.

Councillor Bernard Priest, executive member for neighbourhood services, said: “We already have locations across the city where motorists are required to drive at 20mph to protect children and other pedestrians as well as cyclists. Projects like this have been popular with schools and parents, and have helped to reduce accidents, both here and in other parts of the country.

“We’ve committed to setting up a 20 mph speed limit on residential roads across the city and the first phase is due to start in the next few months when we set up three large areas of the city where this will be in force.”

If council members approve the proposals, a public consultation will be held before the new 20mph areas are created. Traffic surveys would also be carried out before and after the introduction of the zones to monitor results.

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Eric and Rod: I was making the point that without research and reports, empirically, it is often apparent once remedial measures have been implemented (in any traffic engineering context, not just speed) whether they have been succesful or not.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

I don't agree with Hugh regarding supporting 20mph in principle. But I am in total agreement with him over Rod's apparent dismissal of measurements and obervations. Much of the 20mph campaign is based on "slower equals safer" but there is enough evidence (measurements and behaviours of drivers and pedestrians in 20mph schemes) that 20mph is not always safer, to cause its proponents to rethink. The fact that they seem reluctant to do so has rung alarm bells with me for some time.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (2) | Disagree (1)

Rod: Although I support, in principle, 20 zones, I have to disagree with your dismissal of ‘personal observations, measurements and anecdotes’. These are actually quite valuable (although it does depend on the source) and there is too much reliance on reports and reference material when all it takes sometimes is personal observation on whether something - in this context anyway – will actually work. e.g “Is the traffic now going slower than it was before?” Answer: “Yes it is”.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)


The problem with the debate about the level of speed that is appropriate for our residential and urban road network is that so little of the evidence presented by those wishing for higher speed is from a reputable source and mainly consists of personal observations, measurements and anecdotes.

The fact that those wanting lower speeds can and do refer to a wide range of reference material and reports from reputable organisations is not an indication of "propaganda" but merely adds strength to their case.

I think that those who are charged with the responsibility for setting speed limits on our roads are actually very able to understand these differences and make appropriate judgements.

At the moment those judgements seem to be increasingly coming to the conclusion that 20mph speed limits are a positive step in making our urban streets and roads better places for all concerned.
Rod King

Agree (2) | Disagree (4)

I provided a definition (of propoganda) on a previous RSGB item: Propaganda is "a form of communication that is aimed towards influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position by presenting only one side of an argument. Propaganda is usually repeated and dispersed over a wide variety of media in order to create the chosen result in audience attitudes. As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda, in its most basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented."
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (5) | Disagree (5)

I must admit that I really do take it as a compliment when those opposing 20mph limits start referring to our well-referenced information and briefing sheets as "propaganda". Such claims are usually the last resort of those who see the argument slipping away from them.

And with 12m people living in local authorities that have already decided that "20's plenty where people live" then this important initiative is being endorsed by some of our most iconic cities and its great to see Manchester included.
Rod King - 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (6) | Disagree (4)

No problem with sensible engineered 20mph limits and zones but the blanket approach is flawed. In the absence of restraining geometry, cars will not slow down in "Signed only" schemes particularly if they are already travelling >25mph - so some form of physical traffic calming is needed as well as signs. Lancashire is covered by "tick Box" 20mph schemes that include 20m long side street cul -de sacs. What a waste of resources. Let's hope that these proposals are based on established DfT/TRL Guidance interpreted by Traffic Engineers not Planners.
MC Greater Manchester

Agree (9) | Disagree (4)

Reducing the limit to 20MPH is missing the point. Active identification of existing speed limit breakers should be number one on the list, prosecute those that exceed the existing limits. Proud of being an IAM member I abide by the speed limits, I am generally the slowest vehicle on the road. I am regularly the target of aggressive motorist tactics. Put money and resources in the right place for goodness sakes.
David Matthews

Agree (8) | Disagree (7)

The decision makers who are rushing into creating these 20mph zones are working on the propaganda and the premise that "slower must be safer - musn't it?" It isn't - the reverse is true and they need to look at the figures instead of the propaganda.
Martyn, London

Agree (6) | Disagree (18)

Research by Paul Smith (dec) and myself shows that in 30 mph/ 50 kph zones the typical impact speed with pedestrians is no more than 10 kph and probably as low as 5 kph. That is 0.1 to 0.45 metres (4" to 18") from stopping. That reflects that drivers are alert to the task. Reduce it to 20 mph/ 30 kph and drivers may tend to lose concentration - if distracted for 2 seconds impact speeds will then be 20 mph - and the chance of being injured will rise from 10% to 70% with a 30% chance of a serious injury and 10% chance of a death.

Leave speed limits where they will be respected and where drivers and riders would normally travel with safety.
John Lambert, Australia

Agree (14) | Disagree (12)

Because they spend much of their time trying to turn ideas into reality, engineers know that the world is absolutely full of bright ideas that fall apart the moment the numbers are applied.

Perpetual motion, man made global warming, mortgages for those who can never hope to keep up payments, electricity from windmills, tidal power, speed cameras, 20mph areas and all the rest suffer from the same fundamental problem, that the numbers do not stack up.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (13) | Disagree (22)

£500,000 of public health spending to be used. Can't quite see the introduction of 20MPH limits is a public health action.
Wolfman Stockport

Agree (12) | Disagree (15)

The council says the move is intended to “make Manchester’s roads safer for children ...". It also "believes it will reduce crashes..."

"Intended to" but it won't because it hasn't anywhere else. And totally misplaced "belief" for the same reason.

How many more decision makers are going to swallow the 20's Plenty propaganda? How many more vulnerable road users have to get injured before the realities are recognised?
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (22) | Disagree (23)

My heart still sinks when I hear of anyone - especially a public figure acting as spokesperson, saying things like ".... where motorists are required to drive at 20mph...."

No! Motorists are not 'required to drive at 20mph' (or at any other speed limit for that matter) -it's an upper limit that's all, not a speed to be reached and maintained at all times.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (14) | Disagree (6)