Should Haringey have a blanket 20mph speed limit on residential roads?

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!

0 thoughts on “Should Haringey have a blanket 20mph speed limit on residential roads?

  1. A 20mph speed limit would be a good idea to save lives in Haringey but for it to work we would need to either invest in speed cameras or actually have police officers on the streets equipped to detect people speeding. Either would cost money!

    Whether a blanket speed limit and enforcement would save money over speed bumps is not really the issue though. It is time to get serious about speed and road safety.

  2. You’ll be aware of the research in London that has shown reducing the speed limit to 20 MPH reduces both the number and the severity of accidents when combined with traffic-calming measures. In the light of this I understand why a blanket reduction seems like an attractive option. I have two questions:

    1) What research has been done into the effectiveness of a blanket reduction alone at reducing accidents and casualties? What what were the results?

    2) What alternatives to changing the speed limit have you considered that would achieve the same ends?

  3. Pingback: Lynne Featherstone on 20 MPH in Haringey | DIY Streets – Turnpike Lane Neighbourhood

  4. Does the £600 000 include the cost of policing and enforcing this? Considering the amount of spending cuts, do you really think that spending £600 000 + on speeding limits is money well spent?
    6 deaths in a year. What were the locations of these deaths and how fast were the cars going? There is no guarantee that these deaths would have been avoided with a 20mph speed limit. In all likelihood, people will not stick to this speed limit anyway. Has analysis been done on how this will affect traffic? Traffic on green lanes is a big problem, I’d like to know how this will be affected.
    In contrast there were 17 infant mortalities in 2009.
    Looking at some stats here the road injuries and deaths is significantly better than the national average. However children in poverty , statutory homelessness, deprivation, violent crime and GCSE results are all significantly worse than the UK average. Looking at this document, surely the money should be diverted into tackling the items in red not the green?
    What could be done with £600 000 in schools, hospitals or to help people off the street I wonder?
    I for one, would like to see the money spent elsewhere.
    However, if a proper simulation/study was done that showed the effect of a 20mph limit in haringey on emissions, then I might be convinced. There are studies that show that it does indeed reduce pollution, but I think it depends on the area and road structure.

  5. Blanket 20 mph without humps, chicanes etc across the Borough is a very sensible idea but as you say, it would need to be enforced.
    I live on Alexandra Road N8 which has a 20 mph limit and 4 humps.
    Traffic calming they told up when it was done! Traffic calming, now there is a misnomer if ever there was.
    Since it was completed only a very few private vehicles take any notice of the speed limit. Most commercial vehicles, heavy plant vehicles and delivery vans take no notice at all and go charging over the humps at all times of the day and night making my whole house shake. I would love the Council to remove the humps but in the present financial climate ?
    So I will say this.
    Yes by all means make the whole borough a 20 mph zone with lots of appropriate signing and policing but in doing so, remove all the humps. They just make life more difficult for the residents. Barnet council removed theirs very successfully so why cannot Haringey?

  6. I think it’s a good idea, but it will be worthless if not enforced. The metal barriers at the end of my road are bashed in several times a month by drivers who must be exceeding the current 30mph speed limit. To put an end to this blatent disregard for speed restrictions, any proposal submitted needs to have a clear plan for enforcement, backed up by appropriate penalties.

  7. NO!NO!NO! Environmental damage will be sever, would be implement with speed bumps which KILL more people then they save and cost a lot of money to put in and maintain when damaged BECAUSE we have an abundance of money at the moment, Also damages auto mobile which we pay for as almost impossible to claim it back from council.

    May i show this study USA introduced blanket speed limits in USA highways fatalities didn’t go down. Speed limits lower the general effectiveness of traffic calming measures generally. As people drive at speed’s they are comfortable and when its unnecessary they ignore it and then take that attitude to serious measures.

    As for saving lives A study in bolder Colarado showed that for every life saved by a speed bump as many as 85 people died due to ambulance taking longer time to get to places. Or the four hill’s study which showed similar findings a net gain in loss of life of cardiac patients is found.

    As been stated before the environmental impact is heavy The motoring organisation AA says slashing speed limits from 30 to 20 miles per hour (mph) can also increase CO2 emissions by 10%.The research found that the average car achieves 58.15 miles per gallon (mpg) at a steady speed of 30mph. But if you introduce humps, the fuel consumption drops to 30.85mpg.

    Then their is the cost of changing all road signs and introducing speed bumps (£2000+ a hump or camera £30,000+)

    These measures are implemented for the Need-to-be-seen doing something effect Gov. has why they’re poorly thought out.

  8. Also i like how you argue with stating the cost to the NHS per call out. In reality paramedics hate traffic calming measure as it stops them being able to save lives.

  9. Your claim to care about the public and value their lives.

    If you really cared, why are you paart of a government that wants to enforce another expensive, top-down restructure on the NHS without even piloting your plans?

    These restructures certainly have a detimental effect on people’s health and are known to indirectly cause death.

    Why don’t you address the things that really matter to us, Lynne?

  10. @Jamie

    Re – your article, I think if the businesses we worked for were honest, decent and upstanding and didn’t quash free thought, we might not need silly government initiatives to get our minds back.

    The many of the companies I have worked for have been pretty hostile environments, the air thick with office politics. The business itself operated on the basis of making money, nothing more, nothing less.

    The silly LibDems think that deregulating amoral environments is going to help us.

  11. Lynne – yesterday you wrote this:

    “An increasingly authoritarian approach to almost everything under Labour moved us towards a population controlled by legal parameters rather than social ones. Change has to come from within…”

    And today you propose something which – whatever the rights or wrongs of the proposal – runs entrirely contrary to this: i.e. you are suggesting a new legal parameter, enforced by the state.

    It’s very confusing to work out what you believe in.

  12. I’m glad that this particular Motion wasn’t past. Slow cars pollute MORE!

  13. I think the 20mph proposal is an excellent idea. Such zones are common practice in residential areas in many European cities. As a parent and resident of a ‘rat-run’ street, anything to slow down traffic is welcome. Enforcement would be preferable but – even without – drivers would generally obey the limit, thus saving lives and reducing the stress of high speed traffic on residents. Even those breaking the limit would probably not exceed 30 mph, which would still be a huge step forward, i.e. overall speed would reduce. I think urban speeding is as dangerous as drunk driving and should become socially unacceptable through limits, campaigns and education. I really don’t understand some of the stupid comments here. More road humps are not required and emergency services would continue to use blue lights/sirens allowing them to drive faster in emergencies. Its time to reclaim our streets and communities from the careless and oafish petrol-heads!

  14. Some years ago there was a demand for a 20 mph limit across my ward (in another city, not London), except for the A road that cuts it in half. The Council claimed that a govt report said that massively expensive speed humps, etc, would be essential – so I got the report, and it did not say that. What it did say is that social pressure does the job, giving Gratz in Austria as a successful example of doing that. So all who are concerned should gang up on getting the message across.
    What you also need is community groups of volunteers doing the speed monitoring (with handheld radar guns) in order to inform police and LAs about the roads where significant transgression occurs.

  15. Reducing the speed limit in the borough is an excellent idea but I think it would have to be introduced across the whole of London or even nationwide for it to work properly.

    Unfortunately the current speed limits of 20mph and 30mph are regularly transgressed by all sections of the community who race from one traffic jam to the next getting increasingly frustrated. Speed bumps only make things worse as some drivers simply accelerate and brake very aggressively in their performance cars adding to noise and pollution.

    A London wide scheme would allow for publicity campaigns to educate drivers that it is just socially unacceptable to drive at inappropriate speeds through residential areas.

    If drivers suspected that there may be volunteer groups (unmarked?) policing their own neighbourhoods they would surely drive much more cautiously and with more care and attention.

    Volunteers are extremely inexpensive and could be sourced from your Big Society scheme.

  16. No! I do not believe these statistics – figures are always manipulated to give the desired result.

    More cycle incidents to me is due to more cycles on the streets and more poorly trained cyclists.

    Train cyclists on how to ride safely instead. I’d bet my house that the majority of accidents are from cyclists nipping up the inside near left turns, jumping lights, riding too close to parked cars and getting hit by opening doors, riding too close to the kerb, etc.

    In my street where there are thankfully no suspension breaking, polluting, ambulance delaying, noise inducing speed humps there may be 1 in 1000 cars driving too fast for the conditions. If they ignore a 30, what difference would a 20 make? Why delay thousands of people for the sake of one inconsiderate driver who will always speed regardless? Good drivers will drive at a speed which allows them to stop in time for any hazard, regardless of the limit in place.

    Delaying everyone with these speed limits causes pollution, and costs people’s time and money. And remember it is people’s money which pays for town hall bureaucrats to sit on their backsides dreaming up pointless ideas such as this to justify their existence.