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20 mph

From Mike Hatfield

Sunday, 5 March 2017

As a resident overlooking the Keighley Road and Midgehole Road, may I suggest to the council that the 20mph signs be amended to indicate the restriction is a maximum limit not a minimum!

From Nigel W

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Couldn't agree more. I live at the bottom of Cragg Road in Mytholmroyd where they have just put up the same signs. In the evening the average speed must be anywhere from 30 to 50 mph. If they are going to put up signs who will police it? If it is not policed then putting the signs up was a complete waste of time and taxpayers' money.

From Andy C

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Particularly daft are the 30mph signs where the 20mph zone ends on Park Lane and Hallbank Lane - a few yards further on those roads become bridal path or country lane. Misleading and dangerous. I've emailed Calderdale but they don't respond.

Apparently the 20mph restriction isn't inforceable anyway unless accompanied by other traffic calming measures.

From Tim B

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Don't worry people - it is being policed. A friend was caught and fined for doing over 20 on Cragg Road.

From Kez Armitage

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Andy C is right. The way 20mph zones have been set up makes a mockery of what, essentially, is probably a good idea. Another example is Station Road. On the main road, there's a 20 mph limit, but when you turn towards the station, you can up your speed to 30 mph for the twenty seconds or so it takes to get to the end.

When I questioned the authorities, I was told it's a private road (owned by Network Rail) so the 20mph speed limit can't be imposed. And yet that road carries schoolkids, commuters and other rail users, and so many others. Are we really saying that their safety is less important because they're on a private road?

The trouble is, such stupidity brings the whole system into disrepute, and makes what is a serious issue into a bit of a joke. I half expect some bright spark from the council to suggest they put averaging cameras at Machpelah, Church Lane and Midgehole Road. I wonder how many speeders those would catch.

From Ian M

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Interesting to see that Manchester is scrapping their roll out of 20mph zones as they state they make no difference to speed or accident reduction.

One million pounds wasted apparently

From Graham Barker

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Without proper enforcement 20mph limits are doomed to fail, as Manchester seems to be recognising. See this piece from a day ago, which includes the finding that across all 20mph zones speeds have fallen by only 0.7mph and in some areas have actually gone up. To anyone who has spent any time watching traffic on Market Street over the past few years, this will come as no surprise at all.

From Ken O

Thursday, 9 March 2017

These restrictions are ridiculous and a waste of money. The Council should be attending to the disgusting state of the roads, which in some cases its impossible to do 20mph due to the pot holes.

Gone are the days when a man had to walk in front of a car with a red flag

There is too much emphasis on the pedestrian and cyclists. modern cars can stop on a sixpence its time these restrictions were banned.

Someone told me to alter restrictions on a public highway a public consultation had to take place in conjunction with the DOT.

Has anyone seen what must be the shortest 30mph limit in the world below Scout road academy someone has put a 20mph sign less than 10 yards after a 30mph limit, a monkey could do a better job!

The speed limit past my house is derestricted on a blind bend, how can the council justify that when there are 20mph limits on main a roads

Another money making scheme to collect more speeding fines I think

If you want to use the roads at 20mph may I suggest you get a horse

From Myra James

Thursday, 9 March 2017

The 20 mph speed limits are enforceable. Of course, there will always be drivers who will exceed the speed limit, whatever it is. But most drivers will become used to the new speed limit and cut their speeds. it is a behavioural change that won't happen overnight but experience in towns and cities all over the world shows it is a change that can happen. This is about public health and saving lives - surely worth a little patience while it beds in!

From Ian M

Friday, 10 March 2017

Myra, have you read the article about Manchester council admitting their research has shown 20mph zones don't reduce speed levels or accidents?
Are you ignoring where they state their research mirrors that of other towns and cities across the UK?

This whole project from start to finish had been a very expensive vanity project and that's before the health affects of fully laden HGVs grinding along the valley bottom at 20mph is measured in years to come.

Asthma anyone?

From Adrian Riley

Friday, 10 March 2017

Ian M; The reason the 20mph zones haven't reduced accidents in Manchester is because, as they found, no-one took any notice of the new speed limit. Therefore this 'fact' of no accident reduction cannot be used in this context.

If you drive in the Calder Valley at a speed even approximating to the 30mph limit you will never catch up another driver and all others will be constantly 'pushing' from behind. Speeding is endemic on all roads and motorways. Safety tends to be subsumed under this imperative.

From Ian M

Friday, 10 March 2017

No matter how it's spun, the fact is that 20mph zones have been proven to be a complete and utter waste of taxpayers money.

They don't reduce speed, they don't reduce accidents. All they do is waste vast amounts of money (£1.3 million for Calderdale I believe) clutter the place up with ugly unnecessary signage and cause huge amounts of avoidable pollution.

As I said, a vanity project

From Tim B

Friday, 10 March 2017

The 20mph zones send the message that high speeds are not appropriate in areas where there are likely to be many pedestrians (and other vulnerable road users). If someone is injured by a vehicle travelling over 30 mph in a 20 zone the vehicle driver is more likely to be charged with dangerous driving rather than driving without due care and attention (which carries lower penalties).

From Anthony Rae

Friday, 10 March 2017

My computer’s been at the mender’s for the last three days and now - having carried it up Birchcliffe breathing in the vehicle air pollution - I see that an ‘angry motorists’ tirade has developed on Hebweb. And it’s the usual stuff that’s been filling the correspondence pages of the Halifax Courier for the last few months: ‘20mph zones have been proven to be a complete and utter waste of taxpayers money. They don't reduce speed, they don't reduce accidents … Another money making scheme to collect more speeding fines … too much emphasis on the pedestrian and cyclists … waste vast amounts of money (£1.3 million for Calderdale I believe) … cause huge amounts of avoidable pollution’ etc etc. (Funny - I thought that last thing was down to diesel engines.)

Calderdale Friends of the Earth proposed the introduction of 20mph zones to Calderdale Council; we’ve been really encouraged by their prompt adoption of the policy; and have been defending it against determined attempts by Conservative councillors to have the rollout stopped - it won’t be completed until later this year.

So what are the preliminary results for Calderdale? The Director of Public Health reported to Economy & Environment scrutiny panel in November and this is what he found:

Speed: “Even a 1mph reduction in speed reduces the risk of accidents by 6%. … Overall almost 2 million vehicle readings were taken and there was an average reduction in speed of 2.2mph across the 20mph locations resulting in an average speed of 22.3mph.“

Casualties: “Casualty figures have been assessed prior to the introduction of the 20mph area and the three years post introduction. There has been a reduction in casualties in all areas of 22%. … When compared to national and regional data the fall in our injuries on the roads is faster than other areas. It implies that the 20mph policy is making a difference. … We need to be cautious of the small numbers but we can note the fact that there have been no fatalities since the introduction of 20mph limit areas to date.”

My comment about these figures at the meeting was that they were encouraging but that it’s too early to judge the overall effectiveness of the programme, which can only be done when Calderdale wide roll-out has been completed (so ensuring greater consistency across the district), followed possibly by an initial enforcement ‘surge’ to get the message across, and then continuing public education and awareness. So maybe we’ll have a better idea about 20mph effectiveness towards the end of 2018.

Breaking the speed limit is a criminal offence, and motorists really shouldn’t use the argument that this particular law is ‘stupid’ because there isn’t a policeman on every road corner to catch them when they relentlessly insist on breaking it. They ought to understand that people’s lives are at risk - read those numbers again: ‘a reduction in casualties in all areas of 22%’, and reflect on what that means for individuals and families across our community - and just do the decent thing.

Slow down, and obey the law.

From Myra James

Saturday, 11 March 2017

I'm trying to understand why people are complaining about the 20mph limits.

Many say they are a waste of money because they haven't achieved the hoped-for speed reductions. In this context, see Anthony Rae's comment.

However, is the reason for the absence of an even greater slow down that "other people" are failing to observe the new speed limits? Or are some of the complainers flouting them, in the mistaken belief that they can't be enforced?

I've watched an item on BBC North West Tonight about Manchester's disappointing decision to halt the roll-out of 20mph. It focuses on the lack of enforcement by most north-West police forces. No prosecutions in Lancashire and only one in Manchester. But 78 in Liverpool! Of course, the law needs to be enforced and a bit of extra effort to reinforce the speed limits would help. But we're all aware of cuts to police budgets.

Is it really too much to ask people simply to comply with the law and slow down?

From Graham Barker

Saturday, 11 March 2017

I’ll try to answer Myra’s question from the perspective of someone who fully supports and tries to comply with 20mph limits but too often feels like a mug for doing so.

First, I find it hard to maintain speeds at or below 20mph - much harder than staying below 30 or 40. Around 23-25 feels about right but any lower is a struggle, and having to constantly watch my speed means I’m not fully watching the road.

Second, I too often feel vulnerable to impatient behaviour from following vehicles. Having a fully laden HGV right on my backside is no fun at all and I’m only human, so the temptation is to speed up for my own safety. And when I see buses and even police cars doing well over 20, I question the point of even trying to comply.

Third - where’s the enforcement to stop me feeling as though I’m the one in the wrong? Speed cameras are now all over the place but I’ve yet to see one in a 20mph zone. This reinforces the feeling that even the authorities don’t regard 20 as a serious speed limit. (An email years ago from a Calderdale highways officer, after I asked when the enforcement would kick in on Market Street, made it clear that MBC then viewed a 20 sign as no more than a high-protein Slow sign. I see no evidence that this view has changed.)

Enforcement is the nub of it all. Calderdale may cover itself in virtue by planting hundreds of 20 signs but without enforcement it can be argued that they’re there under false pretences.

Then of course there’s the issue of pollution raised by Ian M. The lower the speed, the more toxic fumes get chucked out. How that circle is squared I have no idea but it does crank up the absurdity another notch.

From Anthony Rae

Saturday, 11 March 2017

At the end of his posting Graham says this: “Then of course there’s the issue of pollution raised by Ian M. The lower the speed, the more toxic fumes get chucked out.” But is that fact or fiction?

The quickest internet search reveals: a 70 page City of London research report that concludes ‘it would be incorrect to assume a 20mph speed restriction would be detrimental to ambient local air quality, as the effects on vehicle emissions are mixed’; a Guardian article quoting research in Germany, which has “shown that the greater the speed of vehicles in built-up areas, the higher is the incidence of acceleration, deceleration, and braking, all of which increase air pollution. German research indicates that traffic calming reduces idle times by 15%, gear changing by 12%, brake use by 14%, and gasoline use by 12%’; and the short 20s Plenty for us briefing on the issue.

These matters are typically complex but it would be helpful if debates like this were not conducted on the basis of assertions that are not true (or based in evidence).

And then he says: ‘Enforcement is the nub of it all. Calderdale may cover itself in virtue by planting hundreds of 20 signs but without enforcement it can be argued that they’re there under false pretences.’ No, enforcement is not the nub of it. When I’m wandering round shops in Hebden should I demand a policeman on every aisle enforcing me not to shoplift, otherwise I’m entitled to blame the shopkeeper; or alternatively is our society based on self policing and respect for the law? We know the answer to this question, don’t we?

From Gary W

Saturday, 11 March 2017

This report from 2013 concluded the following:

"The effects of a 20mph speed restriction on were shown to be
mixed, with particular benefit seen for emissions of particulate matter and for diesel vehicles. The methodology was validated by consideration of real-world tailpipe emissions test data. It was therefore concluded that air quality is unlikely to be made worse as a result of 20mph speed limits."

From Gary W

Sunday, 12 March 2017

I submitted the above before your last post was visible on Hebweb Anthony. It looks like we both posted the same report. But yes, I fully agree with you. Putting forward baseless assertions as 'facts' without showing any evidence does not help the debate.

From Steve Sweeney

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Re: Enforcement, Specialist officers in Calderdale have issued tickets to drivers after they were caught speeding in 20mph zones in Calderdale.

On March 7 between 2pm and 4pm PCSO Liz Calkeld and PC Brimelow, from Safer Roads and Neighbourhoods team, conducted patrols enforcing the 20mph zones.

Five tickets were issued for speeding in the areas of Bank Top, Southowram, Backhold Lane, Siddal, and Clairmount Road, Boothtown.

From Ian M

Sunday, 12 March 2017

I think we can all take any official data regards emissions with a pinch of salt. Volkswagen have proved that!

My point is made on the back of discussions with hauliers as to how slowing down to 20mph, holding that speed and then accelerating back up again (repeated throughout the valley) affects their diesel vehicles performance. Safe to say I'm glad I don't live in the bottom of the valley!

Steve Sweeney, the five people who have been ticketed in the 20mph zones. Over what time period were they fined and what speed were they doing? Hardly relevant if they are spread over a couple of years and they were doing 50mph!

From Anthony Rae

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Ian M says: ‘I think we can all take any official data regards emissions with a pinch of salt. Volkswagen have proved that!’

So - let me get this straight - the fact that Volkswagen used some software device in order to deliberately manipulate the ‘official’ tests in order to underestimate the emissions of their diesel vehicles is now to be deployed as a justification for undermining the validity of ANY emissions research?; including that which disproves Ian’s unevidenced assertion that 20mph zones ‘cause huge amounts of avoidable pollution.’ How convenient.

Secondly he says his views are based on “discussions with hauliers as to how slowing down to 20mph, holding that speed and then accelerating back up again (repeated throughout the valley) affects their diesel vehicles performance.”

Let’s just think that one through, and also compare it with a counterfactual: HGVs travelling along the A646 (our only radial road) will typically be driving to a 40mph limit outside towns, which they then need to reduce - previously to within 30mph; now 20mph - in the towns. So theoretically re-accelerating at the end of the urban area back up to 40mph would take a greater amount of engine energy from 20mph, and therefore result in more emissions; but only if the vehicle didn’t have to de-accelerate in any case (e.g from ordinary traffic conditions) or stop once as it passed through the town. That’s highly unlikely when you think how Hebden is configured, and the consequence is that any vehicle driving in a town centre (regardless of whether the speed limit there is 30 or 20mph) will unavoidably incur that emissions ‘penalty’ as they accelerate away from a standing stop (0mph). In other words, in these typical circumstances, the level of the town centre speed limit is mostly irrelevant.

The only situation in which this analysis would not hold is if the A646 was turned into a clearway along its entire length, its now minimum (not maximum) speed limit set at a level optimised for HGVs, and all requirements to stop at e.g traffic lights or zebra crossings were removed.

As I said in my previous posting ‘these matters are typically complex’, and that could also have been ‘technically complex’. But I wonder if we can tend to agree that: respecting the speed limits that may/do reduce road casualties is a good thing; and that polluting diesel vehicles, whether HGVs or cars, should (to start with) be penalised when found to be infringing health limits due to some scam, or by design, or poor maintenance, but also need to face permanent restrictions to ensure that air quality - whether in Hebden Bridge or nationally - becomes compliant with the legal limit.

The deadline for that compliance, set by the UK Supreme Court, is 2018-20 and when Calderdale’s proposed air quality strategy and action plan is published in a few weeks time, Friends of the Earth will as we promised let you know whether it’ll be successful in doing that, or not.

From Steve Sweeney

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Ian, it was from the Courier and time and date is in the post. It was posted as there seems that some people are under the misapprehension that 20mph will not be enforced by the Police.

From Graham Barker

Monday, 13 March 2017

Anthony may need to take more time over his analogies. If I go round a shop, my incentive to break the law and steal is low because I know that shoplifters very often get caught and punished. Were I to be fairly confident that I would be neither caught nor punished, I might be tempted to steal the odd item; and I might very definitely consider shoplifting as a career if I witnessed the shop staff themselves openly shoplifting.

Regarding Steve Sweeney’s post about enforcement, the fact that five tickets were issued over two hours on a single, very recent day isn’t exactly impressive. Must try harder, I think.

And the report that both Anthony and Gary cite is nowhere near as conclusive as they seem to think. It concerns a project to assess the potential - not actual - impact of introducing 20mph zones, and is based on the same driver in the same model of car, with engine sizes not exceeding 2000cc. This immediately excludes all HGVs, all buses, a large proportion of commercial vehicles and obviously anything with more than a two-litre engine. In other words, it’s not a realistic trial.

I hold up my hand - both hands - to not being an expert but in the absence of before-and-after data based on actual readings of all traffic travelling through 20 zones at actual sub-20 speeds, the jury must still be out.

The difference between driving compliantly at 20 and 30 is that 20 usually necessitates dropping to second gear, which means increased engine revs for a longer period and thus higher emissions. I don't see any way round that. For small cars the increase will be marginal but for larger vehicles it may be significant.

If anyone knows differently and has credible data I’ll be delighted to be proved wrong but as far as I can see I haven’t been proved wrong.

From Tim M

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

All this talk of extra pollution. Really. I rather think people's gripe is with the inconvenience of having to slow down slightly in areas where children or shoppers might stray into the road. It seems clear to me that slower speeds reduce the seriousness of accidents. I avoided running a cat over earlier in a 20 zone. He'd have been one life down in a 30. Perhaps if some of the complainers used their cars a little less and walked a little more they'd have a different perspective?

From Anthony Rae

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Graham – the reason I don’t shoplift is because it’s against the law, and it’s wrong; it’s got nothing to do with the relative prospect of getting caught. I didn’t say the City of London research report was ‘conclusive’; I merely cited its basic finding.

And Graham has framed the issue as a policy dilemma, where apparently there are choices still to be debated: if we reduce the speed limit so as to also reduce road casualties, we will at the same time worsen health outcomes by increasing air pollution. But if vehicles are driven at an optimum speed for reduced emissions (which it’s claimed is higher than 20 mph) we will also increase the risk of road casualties. The implication, left dangling, is that motorists and vehicles shouldn’t comply either with the set speed limit or air pollution limits.

So how should we go about resolving this ‘dilemma’? Let me repeat this from my first posting: people, and authorities, should obey the law. Whatever the speed limit is - don’t break it. On a motorway that’s 70mph, but in Hebden Bridge town centre it’s 20mph. So that’s reasonably simple, I think. At the moment the air quality here is non-compliant with the legal limit values for nitrogen dioxide set by the EU directive so it’s now the responsibility of various authorities - including the national government, and our local council - to make it compliant no later than 2018-20. The Supreme Court says so, and in consequence massive financial penalties are looming.

How will the authorities do this? As of today, I don’t know, for a variety of reasons: the levers aren’t there to fix air pollution ‘just like that’ - we’re waiting to see just how tough the new national air quality plan, which DEFRA have been forced to produce, will be - and everybody’s left it far too late (our air quality should have been compliant by 2010) on the basis that they thought ‘we don’t need to bother with adhering to the law’. And of course it’s always been much more tempting for governments to cultivate the powerful motorists vote rather than set boundaries to their 'freedom'.

But now the courts are being used to redress that imbalance: UK Supreme Court, and the European Court of Justice about which the UK government last month received its final warning. So whilst it might appear overly simplistic, ‘obey the law’ maybe turns out to be the wisest counsel, for all of us. Helpfully that also means individual motorists don’t need to overthink this, and find highly convenient policy dilemmas justifying why they shouldn’t do what the law requires.

From Maureen Brian

Thursday, 16 March 2017

I saw an estimate once - Anthony may remember where it was - which reckoned that any road accident which caused death or serious injury cost the various authorities an average of £1 million.

That's my taxes and Graham's! 20 mph seems a very modest ask in a town with a 1800s street plan and an economy which depends very largely on pedestrian traffic and tourism.

From Anthony Rae

Thursday, 16 March 2017

The answer to Maureen’s question is on page 378 of the DfT’s ‘Reported Road Casualties: Great Britain 2015’. It identifies that the cost of a fatal casualty is £1.78m (attributed to the person), and the slightly larger cost of fatal road accident is £2m. The equivalent costs for serious accidents are £200,000 and £230,000; and for slight accidents £15,000 and £24,000 respectively. And just to explain what these numbers mean: transport economists have to place a value on different scale of accidents in order to calculate the cost/benefit of a proposed road scheme which would have the effect of increasing road safety. So these are ‘avoided costs’, rather than direct costs to the public purse.

From Anne Handley

Friday, 17 March 2017

Graham's posting (from 9 March) stating that Manchester decided to halt the introduction of 20 mph limits because they didn't work is a bit misleading. I re-read the article and it is only based on results in different parts of Greater Manchester (not in all areas of the country, as I first thought). Even in Manchester, introducing them in some areas was very effective. I think it just shows you have to look at local conditions, traffic flows, and the number of pedestrians, cyclists etc. before deciding.

RoSPA provide much more evidence and seem pretty convinced that they are effective at reducing both speed and accidents though they do agree with one of the above posts that 20 mph zones (i.e. combined with traffic calming measures) are generally more effective than 20 mph limits (just signs). They also say that signs alone are most effective in areas where average speed is already low (as I suspect it is in the centre of Hebden Bridge) and are more appropriate for longer stretches where traffic calming is inappropriate and would be too expensive.

As for air pollution, there seem to be conflicting studies on whether 20 mph is worse than 30 mph, but the one thing they all agree on is that how you drive has a big effect on emissions. Lots of stopping and starting, idling and sudden acceleration are very bad. Unfortunately the road system through our narrow valley means that traffic light junctions and pedestrian crossings are common, and they all require cars to stop and start a lot and pollute the air.

My own experience, in places where 20 was introduced several years ago, is that it takes time for drivers to get used to the reduced speeds, but eventually most do, and then you just get the occasional idiot overtaking at silly speeds. There are always a few who think the rules don't apply to them!


20 mph - June-July 2016