Road Safety News

Conference will look at why 20mph is ‘miles better’

Friday 30th January 2015

The 20s Plenty for Us annual conference will include sessions covering lessons learnt from implementing 20mph limits, and the effects of 20mph on public health.

The conference, titled ’20 it’s miles better’, is being held in Cambridge on 12 March.

The agenda includes presentations from local authority representatives from Cambridge, Manchester and Liverpool who will share lessons learned from implementing 20mph schemes in their areas.

Chris Boardman MBE (British Cycling) and Joe Irvin (Living Streets) will discuss the role of 20mph in the ‘cycling revolution’ and ‘urban renaissance’ respectively.

Paul Butcher (Calderdale Council) and Dr Joanne-Marie Cairns (Durham University) will examine the effects of 20mph on public health.

There is an early bird booking rate of £125 for public sector employees who book before 17 February – click here to book or for more information.


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Driving speed directly effects impact speed. The higher the driving speed then the far more difficult it is to reduce the speed so that impacts can be avoided or their consequence minimised.

By all means talk of reducing impact speed. From my position I would prefer a driving speed which meant that the impact could be eliminated. And that's why 20's Plenty where people are around from a road safety perspective.

Of course there are many other reasons why 20's Plenty from other perspectives as well. This conference will explore those with evidence, reasoning and objectivity.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (2) | Disagree (2)

Thanks Rod.
Unsurprising that it's been difficult to shake off the ABD label having been a member or spokesman for 10 years - hence being quoted as 'ABD' even when I wasn't a paying member. I was quoting from the Bristol Post article where a councillor was quoted on it being better to keep open toilets rather than spend £2.3 million on signs. Another councillor made the erroneous claim that each road fataility costs £1.83 million. I don't know of any council that pays out £1.83 million for each road death - do you?

There are only 2 main sources of taxpayers' money - national taxes and local council tax. At a time of supposed austerity, cuts to services, debt, deficit, NHS states of emergency, etc is it wise or cost effective to spend money on blanket 20mph limits? I think the Birmingham 20mph policy figure is about £5 million. It's clear that 20mph policy is aimed at attacking drivers and driving, a policy agenda that many local councillors/officers are pursuing with support from the usual unrepresentative suspects while ignoring the concerns of everyone else.

Opinion is one thing, but hard, objective, independent expert evidence in favour of 20mph policy is severely lacking. Let's not pretend that road safety is measured in 10mph increments or that 20mph is always a safe speed. It's been clear from DfT casualty figures for many years that, for example, if children were being hit at 20mph, then the figures for child deaths would be 10 times higher than they actually are - so regardless of the speed limit, average impact speeds were well below 20mph before '20's Plenty' were invented. A speed limit shouldn't be confused with impact speed.
Paul Biggs, Staffodshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (2)

I apologise to Paul Biggs for not realising that he had resigned his membership of the Alliance of British Drivers. I trust that he can understand my mistake as any Google of "Paul Biggs" and said organisation does include references to him being their "environmental" spokesperson as recent as March 2014 and also in 2014 being the Staffordshire co-ordinator.

On the subject of Bristol toilets, he should put his mind at rest as the Mayor of Bristol in January last year decided against closing any toilets. See: And in any case the funding of capital spending on 20mph limits is entirely separate from the revenue funding of the servicing of toilets.

Regarding the other comments, then Mr Biggs is entitled to his opinion. But may I remind him that councillors and officers are not stupid. They can make their own minds up about the repute and expertise of various speakers and organisations.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (1) | Disagree (3)

Rod King, of undisclosed road safety or driving expertise, I'm not a member of the ABD and you have confirmed that (Chris) Boardman has no expert road safety or driving qualifications. Nothing rude about anything in my posts: pot-kettle-black. 20mph per hour zones or limits don't improve anything and there are no robust figures or logic to suggest otherwise. 20mph policy costs money with zero benefits e.g. Bristol is spending £2.5 million on 13,000 20mph signs whilst closing public toilets. The conference is simply an echo-chamber for those making false positive claims about 20mph.
Paul Biggs, Staffodshire

Agree (5) | Disagree (5)

Do we have any hard data on the speeds of the vehicles involved in collisions with cyclists in urban areas?
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (3) | Disagree (2)

I am afraid that Paul Biggs comments are typical for the "anti-20" lobby and manage to combine both inaccuracy and rudeness in equal measures.

Chris Boardman is a celebrated Olympic and world class sportsman who has shown tenacity, endurance and the attention to detail. Whilst he is chair and development director for Boardman Bikes this is now owned by Halfords. He is also spokesperson for British Cycling and a much sought after speaker.

Several other speakers all hold positions of responsibility for roads in some of our largest authorities. And that includes balancing road safety, wide community benefits and budgets.

We also have speakers from Public Health looking at the "bigger picture" and how our management of the urban environment effect public health. And as we look forward to the health costs of inactivity and lifestyle diseases these are things that will have a huge impact of future NHS and social care costs to society.

Of course Paul Biggs and his ABD colleagues would like to persuade delegates not to book. And one can see why. Our previous 5 annual national conferences have been great opportunities for councillors, officers, public health officials and the public to learn from the experience of those already implementing wide-area 20mph schemes and also what's topical in the debate about how we value and manage our urban realm.

And yes, there will be evidence, there will be presentation of values, and of ways in which all of our places can be "better places to be".

A default 20 limit has already come to so many local places and is now being be considered at national level as well. It's a great time to come to the conference because 20mph is not only miles better, but it smiles better as well. I look forward to seeing as many of you there as possible.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (6) | Disagree (7)

So long as people bring evidence then it really doesn't matter what their qualifications are. I would much prefer to listen to an amateur with lots of evidence than a fully qualified expert with none.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (13) | Disagree (4)

I'd prefer a qualified doctor obviously Paul, but if some pressure group or individual lobbyist tried to tell me that my Doctor was wrong, I would obviously want to know their own credentials and expert qualifications to support it, as I'm sure you would.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (3) | Disagree (6)

Yes Hugh, we need to see the expert road safety and driving qualifications of people who are influencing road safety. Would you want a bike salesman or campaigner to replace your doctor, or would you prefer someone who is qualified to do the job?
Paul Biggs, Staffodshire

Agree (10) | Disagree (6)

"...lobbyists of undisclosed or non-existent road safety/driving expertise". Really? What a nerve!
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (5) | Disagree (12)

This conference is sponsored by a speed camera manufacturer that can profit from the enforcement of lowered limits, a celebrity bike salesman, and other lobbyists of undisclosed or non-existent road safety/driving expertise. The claims for public health and cycling represent fantasy, not revolution. 20mph is still 5 times faster than walking pace and keeps drivers in their cars for longer. Emissions are more likely to be increased than decreased (e.g. AA report 2008). The effect on casualties is unclear given the flaws in studies that claim reductions or increases, hence another DfT report due to be published in 2017.
Paul Biggs, Staffodshire

Agree (15) | Disagree (8)