Before we get started, The Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club would like to make the following announcement:
IF YOU START A ‘20’s PLENTY’ CAMPAIGN IN YOUR AREA, FOR THE SWEET LOVE OF VICTORIA PENDLETON DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES MAKE IT A CYCLING CAMPAIGN.
A little while ago, my local paper (Worthing Herald) launched an online poll as to whether we should have 20mph as the default in the town. I assume they were expecting ‘poor beleaguered motorists’ to be up in arms resulting in a juicy battle of words on the internet and the letters page. Their pages are usually choked like a peak time school run with moans about NCP as they control the parking in Worthing (so you would assume that high parking costs would be a good incentive to encourage walking and cycling but that’s another story).
Imagine everyone’s surprise when a majority voted in favour of such a scheme. As this would mean printing something positive, the story was dropped like a stone. However, the fact remained that people supported the idea of safer, more pleasant streets.
The principle of 20’s Plenty is simple; instead of having small 20mph zones outside schools, hospitals and shopping areas which are always ignored, make 20mph the default speed limit across a wider area with the exception of strategic or arterial roads which remain at 30 or 40.
The benefits are potentially numerous; reduced casualty rates, walking and cycling suddenly looking like better and safer options for getting around, school zones would be linked to the residential areas that children would be walking/cycling in from and as a result, people would be able to engage with their communities again increasing well being and stronger neighbourhoods.
Basically returning to how things used to be before the car took control.
Although another benefit is the potential reduction of ‘rat running’ which bedevils many residential streets, The Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club thinks that this should eventually go further with the layout of such streets being changed with planting schemes and removal of street markings – in essence to return more pleasant streets back to their residents and physically keep people off the accellerator pedal. It’s not enough to say that a default 20mph limit negates the need for traffic calming. It would have a very positive effect on property prices if you needed another positive.
In the Netherlands, over 60% of residential roads are 30kph (18mph) making them much more pleasant for walking and cycling. Its been claimed that on average casualties have dropped by 70%. It must be stated at this point however, that changes to Dutch traffic laws ” require motorists to anticipate unsafe walking and cycling.” If a car-bike collision involves a child or a elderly person, “the motorist is usually judged to be entirely at fault.” “When a crash is caused by an illegal move by a cyclist or a pedestrian, the motorist is almost always judged to be partly at fault.” If you or your campaign group were to succeed in implementing that over here, you would have testicles or the female equivalent the size of Wiltshire and I would fight for a Bank Holiday to commemorate your valour.
In regard to my announcement at the beginning of this post, this is clearly a campaign that could benefit everyone except fans of ‘Top Gear’. Make sure that any 20’s Plenty campaign you instigate or get involved with remains totally separate from cycle campaigning. Many people still regard cycling as something weird people do involving funny clothing or even no clothing at all They have to be allowed to draw their own conclusions and reap their own benefits.
The reason I’m writing this in such an enthusiastic way is because Worthing Borough Council voted unanimously this week to get the 20mph ball rolling in our town. They have also changed a Traffic Regulation Order reducing the requirement for signage which reduces the potential project cost by a sizable margin (to roughly the same cost of running Cycling England for a year, I believe). Basically they’re making 20mph the default limit unless signed otherwise.
For further information please go to the 20’s Plenty for Us Website
To see what’s been happening in Worthing as a good campaigning example, their website is here.