Here is my latest column for the Highgate Handbook and the Muswell Hill Flyer:
Last year there were six deaths in Haringey – as well as injuries. One little girl, for example, had both legs broken and will never be able to do sport or such like again – in her life.
By the time you read this – the Liberal Democrat group on Haringey Council will have put forward a proposal for 20mph in residential streets across the whole of Haringey.
From evidence elsewhere, 20mph saves lives, reduces seriousness of injuries and cuts pollution. 20mph as a pan borough speed limit has the downside of being a blanket policy – but the big upside of being simple, uniform policy. It’s a common complaint of motorists that rules are too complicated and are enforced wrongly.
Because of simplicity – there are no physical measures like humps or chicanes – 20mph across the whole of Haringey’s residential streets would end up being massively cheaper than putting in separate schemes for each street with humps or other measures. The estimates are something like £22 million to deliver a 20mph speed limit street by street (30% of Haringey’s streets already do have traffic calming) but £600,000 for the pan borough option. That’s quite a difference!
There would clearly be a need for enforcement to make sure that there was a penalty to not observing the limit. Of course, ultimately, there needs to be more than one policy to tackle traffic and vehicle management. One aspect won’t be the total answer. Education is vitally important because in the end – the objective must be to get people to change their own driving behaviour rather than change the fabric of our streets.
However, in the meantime, on financial grounds alone – in the middle of this economic crisis – perhaps we should consider the pan borough idea. For every road traffic accident where the injured person is provided with NHS ambulance services, the charge is £177 for each occasion. Where the injured person receives NHS treatment, but is not admitted to hospital, the charge is £585. The daily charge for NHS in-patient treatment is £719. That’s not to even begin to count the personal cost, police time on accidents, loss to the economy of working days that someone has to take off and so on.
You can imagine what this comes to in mega-millions across the country. The savings would be huge to the NHS – where despite funding being ring-fenced with real terms increases – budgets will be under enormous strain. But more importantly – lives would be saved and injuries minimized – and pollution will be reduced.
Can we really afford not to introduce pan Haringey 20mph speed limits? Let me know what you think!