Caroline Russell by Chris King Photography

News from Caroline Russell: Transport Secretary refuses to take national action on speed limits

14 May 2020
The Transport Secretary has refused to cut default speed limits across England to reduce road danger, as speeding, and the number of people walking along our roads, have both increased.
 
Caroline Russell AM wrote to Grant Shapps about bringing down the speed limit to 20 mph on all urban roads with street lighting, to even out the patchwork of limits that currently exists in London.
 
While in London TfL are bringing in 20 mph on some of their roads, some councils – including Caroline’s home borough of Islington, have already brought in this change to make their streets safer.
 
Without a national policy, people crossing boroughs in London will be driving through constantly changing limits. As more people are walking local journeys during the coronavirus lockdown, the conflict between vehicles and increased foot traffic on pavements – and roads as people try to maintain two metres of social distancing – increases the danger that people face while walking.
 
Caroline Russell says:
I’m extremely disappointed in the minister’s response and that he has not taken up my suggestion of changing default speed limits. We have more people on foot at the moment, I have seen people walk on the carriageway to avoid other people walking along the pavements. This huge increase in pedestrians means we need radical change, now, to protect them while this emergency continues.
 
While the minister appears to support 20 mph speed limits he misses the point that changing the default limit as an emergency measure would help local councils. 
 
A national policy would mean all urban roads with street lighting would have 20mph limits without having to change signage or road markings. It would help support the Government’s own policy of social distancing as well as making it cheaper for councils to make the roads they control safer.
Without a change to the national limit local councils will each have to run expensive consultations street by street and spend more money on new road signs to implement small pockets of changes.
 
Polling by Greenpeace last week found that 45 per cent of Londoners supported ‘20 mph speed limits on all main roads in urban areas, with 30 mph only being allowed as an exception along main roads where segregated cycling lanes are in place’. [1]

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