Road Safety News

Durham County Council set to double 20mph schools

Tuesday 10th May 2016


Durham County Council is set to announce plans to double the number of schools in the county which will see 20mph zones introduced by 2018.

The council’s cabinet agreed in December 2014 to introduce 20mph limits outside 33 schools over a three-year period.

However, phase one of the project, which involved 13 schools in the Chester-le-Street and Bishop Auckland areas, was completed ahead of schedule and under budget due to use of smaller, less expensive signs.

As a result, the cabinet will tomorrow (11 May) be recommended to agree to use the money saved to introduce 20mph limits at an estimated further 33 schools, doubling the original number.

The initial 33 signs are now scheduled to be in place a year early with the additional 33 proposed to be added over the following two years.

Cllr David Boyes, chairman of Durham’s 20mph Overview and Scrutiny Working Group, said: “The project to bring in 20mph limits outside schools was introduced to keep our children safe.

“The efforts of both officers and councillors to date have seen results which have far exceeded the original objectives of the project and this is something in which we can all be very proud.”

The announcement came at the same time as the council revealed the four Chester-le-Street pupils who have had their artwork turned into road signs as part of a 20mph competition (pictured).

Designs by Josh Rowe, Lauren Roberts and Faye Haynes from Cestria Primary School and Ethan Arkle from Park View Lower School were selected by members of the council’s ‘Slow to 20 for Safer Streets’ project team.

John Reed, head of technical services at the county council, said: “The purpose of the Slow to 20 schemes is to reduce traffic speeds around the schools during drop off and pick up times, which will help to improve road safety for all road users as well as making walking, cycling and outdoor play more attractive.

“I would like to congratulate the winners on their designs for the new signage, which will go a long way to help enforce this important message.”


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History shows us that we cannot self regulate. in the 1920s the then 20 mph urban speed limit was abused by so many drivers that it was abolished in 1930. Drivers went berserk and by 1934 so many pedestrians and cyclists were killed that a new speed limit had to be introduced and that was as is now the 30 mph. Without regulation drivers did and will again do whatever they feel like doing.
R. Craven Blackpool

Agree (2) | Disagree (1)

Hugh, you asked "Have you lived in England long Charles?"

No, why?
Charles, England

Agree (2) | Disagree (2)

Is 20mph really better that 30mph? What do the stats show ?
Alan Innes

Agree (7) | Disagree (1)

"Let's leave the responsibility for the streets to the imagination, resources and manpower of their respective communities". "..locally created, locally owned and locally respected measures...." Have you lived in England long Charles?
Hugh Jones

Agree (4) | Disagree (0)

Are the proposed limits 24/7 or more sensibly just at school starting and leaving times with flashing lights - as in much of Scotland.
Robert Bolt St Albans

Agree (9) | Disagree (2)

How exactly does the local community decide on what should happen? Perhaps everyone gets together and chooses a committee to decide who should decide on the scheme's details. Sounds a bit like a local council/parish council etc? Aren't you back where you started? Or perhaps if the area being represented gets smaller and smaller then it will get down to one person who will agree with themselves? Also if the area under "local" control gets too small how do adjacent sections hope to fit in with each other? At some point on an issue, an individual may have to accept that they are in the minority and will have to accept the situation as decided by the majority. Doesn't stop campaigning for change though as that is a large part of what a democracy is.
Nick, Lancashire

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Nick, no, please re-read what I wrote. I'm floating the idea that the funds raised by re-cycling redundant road materials and street furniture could be added to the council pot for 'other' things. Let's leave the responsibility for the streets to the imagination, resources and manpower of their respective communities. The councils and authorities have failed them, and with nothing more imaginative than lower speed limits (already known to be ineffective without prohibitively expensive additional enforcement measures) on offer, the communities will inevitably benefit more if allowed to "opt-out".
Charles, England

Agree (4) | Disagree (6)

Charles - If you think that the funds raised by re-cycling redundant road materials and street furniture would come anywhere near the costs to amend the local environment to produce self enforcing speed control environments then please forward on to this forum the details of where you would take the materials so we can all benefit from their excellent weighing-in rates. Do you honestly think that it would exceed the costs of new materials and labour to construct the new environments?
Nick, Lancashire

Agree (7) | Disagree (1)

Rod, Hugh, why do you assume that cost for these measures would be prohibitive or more than current failing methods? Simple locally owned and locally created measures would cost councils and authorities next to nothing. They could even make money by recyling all the redundant hardware (traffic light systems, railings, traffic signs, etc.) that they own.

You need to stand back and forget standardisation, regulation, uniformity, over-specification and over-engineering - they are the things that add unnecessary cost to schemes, and - to be frank - reduce their effectiveness. What we need are ad-hoc, locally created, locally owned and locally respected measures - made from donated and recycled materials and local elbow-grease.

I would say - not only could we more likely realise the zero-KSI dream, but look at how much money the authorities could save - by deregulating our community streets and handing them back to the local communities.
Charles, England

Agree (3) | Disagree (9)

Your proposals are great on paper Charles and in an ideal world may work, apart from the cost, the practicalities and the logistics, but in the real world, we have to deal with those who simply like to drive as fast as they can get away with - regardless of what the built environment might indicate.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (7) | Disagree (3)


I have no problem with society investing in road infrastructure that changes the whole perceived nature of roads and hence reduces the speed of vehicles. However, for this to be of wide benefit it has to be widely implemented. The schemes such as Poynton and Seven Dials are notable as "oasis" because they are in a veritable desert of car-centric streets. Their cost is also huge. The junction at Poynton cost £3.5m. As a societal-wide preventative approach it is not an affordable solution. Small, isolated schemes also re-enforce higher speeds in the rest of the network.
Rod King,20's Plenty for Us, Cheshire

Agree (7) | Disagree (7)

Hi Rod

This will be my third and final post on this thread, which will be quite enough of my opinion for now.

According to your press release, the UWE analysis of the YouGov survey also states that the public think that enforcement would be needed - which seems to be mainly lacking apart from a few one off campaigns. Another statistic quoted in your press release says that that " 71% of drivers agreed people will ignore 20mph limits because they donít see themselves getting caught by the police".
I'm continuing to ponder but I think I see a couple of elephants in the 20s Plenty camp that don't seem to ready to leave just yet.
Pat, Wales

Agree (12) | Disagree (2)

Rod, you wrote: "The British Social Attitudes Survey report 73% in favour of a 20mph limit for residential roads and only 11% against."

That is inevitably because they do not understand the impotency of 20mph limits or what they will actually achieve. They probably assume that they will make some sort of tangible difference. They may well have been convinced by misleading promises and inaccurate reports relating to these limits and assume that their world will be improved by them.
Charles, England

Agree (9) | Disagree (6)

Rod asked me: "what measures would you introduce to get everyone driving at what you consider to be appropriate speeds and how would you determine the appropriate speed anyway?" If I may, I'll answer that - in reverse order.

The maximum appropriate driving speed is the highest speed which would not prevent the driver from discharging their duty of care to others and their property and which would not lead to a contravention of societal norms for behaviour (road courtesy, noise nuisance, etc.). There may also be a minimum appropriate driving speed required to conform with societal norms, and a protocol to be followed by those who cannot or will not attain that speed (think caravans on open single-carriageway roads).

The "measures" required are those which will deliver the correct message to the drivers about the role of the road they are driving along and about the environment it is in - if these messages are right, drivers will automatically choose the appropriate speed, sustainably. These will inevitably vary from community to community and from street to street (one of their strengths over conventional measures), and feasibly be designed and even owned by the community. They may include street paving effects (or simply paint effects) to blur the edges and provide a perception of intimacy and community amenity, props and street furniture placed in the traditional roadway that further suggest community use (such as artwork, benches, children's play equipment, planters, trees and market stalls). These enhancements can be as cheap or as expensive as desired, needing nothing more than enthusiasm and imagination to get started with. In most cases too this will ultimately mean getting rid of traditional motor vehicle dominance-reinforcement elements such as centre lines, kerbs, islands, straight lines and traffic lights. These cues that generate inappropriate speeds are relics fit only for the museum of failed road safety ideas of the Buchanan and late 20th century era! I'm sure most readers here will be familiar with similar ideas from the likes of Hans Monderman, David Engwicht, Ben Hamilton-Baillie and even Martin Cassini. One of my favourite examples is at Seven Dials in London - it is an unexpected oasis of calm tucked behind the mayhem on Shaftesbury Avenue. There you can stand in the middle of the roadway halfway around the seven-arm roundabout junction to take a photo - and will not get hassled by the continuous stream of taxis and delivery vans also using the junction which you are temporarily standing in the way of!
Charles, England

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The British Social Attitudes Survey report 73% in favour of a 20mph limit for residential roads and only 11% against. Wide-area 20mph limits have been progressivly made easier by successive DfT guidance/regulation changes in 2006, 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2016

It has already been adopted by the following places (with populations):-

Bath & NE Somerset (175500)
Bolton (139403)
Brighton & Hove (273400)
Bristol (428100)
Bury (60718)
Calderdale (200100)
Cambridge (122700)
Camden (LB) (220100)
Cheshire West & Chester (332000)
Chichester (22731)
City of Birmingham (1074300)
City of Cardiff (346100)
City of London (LB) (400000)
City of Manchester (502900)
Coventry (316900)
Croydon (LB) (364800)
Darlington (106100)
Ealing (LB) (342500)
Edinburgh (495360)
Fressingfield (900)
Glasgow City (598830)
Greenwich(LB) (255500)
Hackney (LB) (247200)
Hammersmith & Fulham (LB) (182400)
Haringey (LB) (255500)
Hounslow (LB) (265568)
Islington (LB) (206300)
Lambeth (LB) (304500)
Lancashire (1461400)
Leicester (329600)
Lewsisham (275885)
Limpley Stoke (900)
Liverpool (465700)
Middlesbrough (138400)
Middleton (500)
Newcastle-upon-Tyne (279100)
Nottingham (303900)
Otley (14124)
Oxford (150200)
Portsmouth (205400)
Rochdale (211900)
Sefton (272000)
Sheffield (551800)
Shipley (28162)
Southampton (239700)
Southwark (LB) (288700)
St Helens (102629)
Tower Hamlets (LB) (256000)
Tregony (1000)
Waltham Forest(LB) (259700)
Wandsworth (LB) (312145)
Warrington (202700)
Westbourne (2309)
Whitchurch, Hants (4800)
Wigan (318100)
York (197800)

That's 25% of the UK population including 75% of Inner London Boroughs. You can also add in the likes Paris, Barcelona, Brussels, most Dutch, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish towns and villages, plus many places in Spain, Germany and the rest of Europe. Its also strongly recommended by the EU Transport Committee.

Its been implemented by Labour, Lib-Dem, Conservative and Green local governments and continued when administrations have changed colour.

In an interview the Under-Secretary of State when asked about setting 20mph defaults said "we are not quite there yet, but at some time what you suggest may be appropriate".

Whther that is nearing a "tipping point" or "mainstream support" I will leave to you to ponder over.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us, Cheshire

Agree (5) | Disagree (10)

Agree with your summary of options Nick, except in your first para you presume the origin of an existing limit to have been a conscious decision by the local councillors, when in fact it will probably have simply been the default national speed limit for street-lit urban areas i.e 30 and where the councils' role was limited to erecting the signs at the appropriate points.

This is really at the root of the 20s plenty campaign, whereby the current default limit is not necessarily appropriate and rather than councils having to find resources to implement 20s, on an ad hoc piecemeal basis, it should be the default national limit with the probable exceptions, via local orders, for the distributor roads feeding these areas.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (6) | Disagree (5)

Consider a road with an existing speed limit previously decided by the local democratically accountable representatives. If the local community feel that the vehicle speeds are too high then they can approach the Highway Authority to request that they take action to try to lower vehicle speeds.

What will/can the HA do if it is felt appropriate to lower speeds?

One option would be to change the speed limit and provide the necessary legal Order and signing to do so. Alternatively they could redesign the highway environment on the relevant section of highway to encourage lower speeds. They could engage with the local community and drivers using the road to encourage them to choose lower speeds. They could work in partnership with the local Constabulary to enforce the existing speed limit to try to reduce any outlying speeds.

I am not sure that any of the above approaches would succeed in isolation so I would expect several of them, if not all, would be employed in an ideal world with sufficient resources to carry them out.

The message I am trying to get across is that I think there is, as usual, no single solution to a "problem" that works in isolation. Multiple approaches need to be taken to influence a driver's behaviour so they regulate the use of their right feet!
Nick, Lancashire

Agree (6) | Disagree (1)

Rod, I always enjoy your comments and sometimes agree with those on 20mph speed limits in specific small areas BUT as for default 20s generally, saying "the country is changing the reference point around which it views the appropriate speed on residential roads" is rather over stating the progress to date and is still a minority voice that has yet to achieve main stream acceptance. By all means carry on lobbying but you are no where near that tipping point I mentioned in a previous thread.
Pat, Wales

Agree (12) | Disagree (3)

Out of interest Charles, if it were up to you and you had the same resources available, what measures would you introduce to get everyone driving at what you consider to be appropriate speeds and how would you determine the appropriate speed anyway?

I can't help thinking you would inevitably end up with some sort of limit to cap speeds, reinforced by physical measures and/or enforcement. If there's a better way, we'd like to hear it.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (5) | Disagree (2)

Rod, my views are based on a realistic understanding of real world human nature and not on an idealised, utopian or even Orwellian fantasy in which road safety relies on drivers being required to behave as automatons.

There has only ever been one time that I have used the phrase "common knowledge" on this forum, and that was in relation to the fact that speed limits alone do not significantly change the behaviour of drivers (in the real world). As I explained then, this is evidenced by the amount of time and effort that has to be expended on various enforcement operations and by the fact that so much money is collected in speeding fines and speed awareness courses. If you have seen any incontrovertible evidence that speed limits alone do significantly change the behaviour of drivers without the need for any sort of enforcement then please share it.
Charles, England

Agree (7) | Disagree (6)


You are entitled to your views, but I am afraid they are only that. You have not supplied any references in any of your posts and keep relying upon statements such as "its common knowledge".

Speed limits are never deployed "on their own" but are accompanied by engagement, enforcement, sometimes engineering, public consensus change, signage, marketing, and media debate.

Speed limits are not the magic bullet for reducing prevailing vehicle speeds but are the foundation upon which every other intervention is based.

Your talk of redesigning roads is fine, but is a hugely expensive undertaking when much can be achieved for very little expenditure.

So by all means you can keep campaigning for that expenditure to take place, you may need a little more flesh on the exceedingly bare bones of whatever you would plan.

But in the mean time the country is changing the reference point around which it views the appropriate speed on residential roads and those with vulnerable road users.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us, Cheshire

Agree (4) | Disagree (11)

Hi Charles, I agree with your first sentence and paragraph but not the last para, so I couldn't click either a like or dislike. Personally, I'm fascinated about the overlap where different contributors agree and disagree on particular aspects or nuances of the headline subject.
Guzzi, Newport

Agree (5) | Disagree (1)

In response to Pat, I worked for one of the Welsh Highway Authorities for many years and bilingual traffic signs were mandatory, but importantly the fonts are the same and the finite number of different messages made them very familiar to the motorists who don't have to read the whole sign through each time! Outside Wales, are there many who don't know what 'Ysgol' and 'Araf' mean?

Would the Welsh Assembly insist on the children's signs shown in the photo be bi-lingual I wonder? I think mandatory yellow backing for 20 signs would be more useful in getting motorists to actually see them and take them seriously!
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (4) | Disagree (2)

Rod, I agree with much of what you write. I agree that we should not be abusing children in this way - they cannot be expected to be experts in road safety so are not in a position to give informed consent and they cannot possibly realise the potential consequences of what they are being forced to participate in.

However Rod, I know, and I'm sure you must know in your heart of hearts, that speed limits are certainly not the solution either to achieving appropriate speeds. We both know that speed choice in community streets is influenced many factors and that speed limits play little, if any, part in that decision.

We should concentrate on delivering appropriate speeds yes, but in a sustainable way and not try to perpetuate the myth that speed limits can help with that.
Charles, England

Agree (8) | Disagree (9)

Guzzi, I agree with you and also fail to see the need for speed limits in these places.

As I see it, the speed limits are being used as a political sops - rather than as evidence-based road safety measures - in these circumstances. The target voters get a warm feeling (probably ignorant of the ineffectiveness of speed limits as speed lowerers) from believing something is being done. Hence the involved councillors get more Brownie points and something to put in their community newsletter and get their faces in the local press.

Perhaps it is now time for some sort of independent road safety ombudsman, regulator or standards agency to be established. These would be empowered to respond to open requests to investigate the validity and efficiency of interventions such as these, and if challenged by them, the appropriate highway authority would be required to provide the reasoning and necessary evidence to prove that the interventions have a sound scientific basis and are implemented on wholly evidence-based road safety grounds alone.
Charles, England

Agree (9) | Disagree (8)

We can't really expect children to understand that :-

* Wherever you have small, isolated 20mph zones then this endorses faster speeds on the rest of the community roads.

* The idea of "slowing down" assumes you should go faster elsewhere.

* That the speed of a snail is just 0.03mph and bears no relation to 20mph. Pictures of snails subliminally suggest that 20mph is too slow.

* That at the end of every small 20mph zone there is a 2ft wide sign saying that the limit is now 50% higher.

* That the children who get the most protection from school zones are those being driven to school, whilst those walking or cycling are more vulnerable for the majority of their journey from home outside the zone where 30mph is endorsed.

* That children are exposed to greater danger when in ones and twos nearer their home where the limit may be 30mph than they are en masse near the school.

But shouldn't we expect more understanding from the adults involved?

Shouldn't they be recognising that such schemes as this are too little and too isolated? And shouldn't the government be ending the postcode lottery on child mobility and vulnerability by saying that 20's plenty wherever people live, work, shop and learn across the nation? Let local councils have the choice to set higher limits than 20mph for restricted roads wherever they can justify it, but the reference point should be 20 and not 30.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us, Cheshire

Agree (10) | Disagree (14)

I struggle to understand why we need 20mph speed limits at schools. The roads by most schools in residential areas in Gwent are so crowded with cars that massive congestion means no one is able to speed at school start and finish times anyway.
Guzzi, Newport

Agree (13) | Disagree (3)

The Highways Authority have the authority to raise traffic regulations orders for 20mph signs with unique integral artwork and don't need to refer the decision to a higher authority. Takes longer to read? Come to Wales and see any text displayed bilingually!
Pat, Wales

Agree (10) | Disagree (0)

Sorry Iain - might have been the way I phrased it, but I knew, or at least presumed they would be prescribed signs anyway, I was just trying to distinguish between the recognisable traditional (prescribed) speed limit sign from something no less prescribed, but which would take longer to read and digest and with no real added benfit to the driver. A bit gimmicky perhaps? Does TSRGD allow for any artwork or would each design require approval?
Hugh Jones

Agree (3) | Disagree (1)

Charles; There is still a difference between zones and limits with zones requiring at least one physical calming feature and a limit only requiring signs.

Hugh; The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions allows for children's artwork on a school area 20 zone sign so they are still prescribed signs.
Iain (Scotland)

Agree (9) | Disagree (2)

Is there still a technical difference between a "20mph zone" and a "20mph limit"? If there is, I wonder which these are going to be - as the first sentence calls them the former and the second sentence the latter.
Charles, England

Agree (7) | Disagree (3)

I first saw signs like these in Chester a few years ago and my first presumption unfortunately, was that because of the artwork beneath, they were not official speed limit signs - possibly other motorists may have thought the same.

I think there are too many unofficial signs, poster, advertising boards etc. on our street furniture which have nothing to do with highway regulations and I think it better, despite the good intentions here, to stick to the instantly recognizable prescribed signs, so at least the motorist knows what to ignore and what not to ignore. Am I the only one who sees the artwork as an unnecessary distraction for the driver?
Hugh Jones

Agree (10) | Disagree (5)