UK Local Authorities

Positive results of introduction of 30kph speed limit in Bristol

The University of West England has conducted an elaborate study of the effects of lower urban speed limits in Bristol. The study looked at individual speed data from more than 36 million vehicle observations and controlled for other factors that might affect changes in traffic speeds, representing a more sophisticated analysis than previous studies of 30kph limits. Bristol Health Partners reports:

The 30kph speed limits in residential areas in Bristol have prevented more than four fatal casualties a year, as well as 11 serious and 159 slight injuries. This is estimated to have saved the NHS £15 million a year

The research also showed average speeds have dropped by 4.3kph in the areas with 30kph limits – a larger reduction than other cities have seen. Speeds reduced in 100 of the 106 roads that the researchers looked at. Critics of 30kph limits often cite a lack of compliance as an argument against the schemes. However, this evidence suggests that, overall, while drivers may not be driving below 30kph, they have reduced their speeds by a significant amount.

Dr Suzanne Audrey, Senior Research Fellow in Public Health at the University of Bristol and co-Director of the Supporting Healthy Inclusive Neighbourhood Environments Health Integration Team (SHINE), welcomed the findings, saying:

“This is vital evidence that 30kph limits are effective – both in preventing casualties and encouraging healthy behaviour in the neighbourhoods where they’re brought in. If more people feel they can walk and cycle around residential areas rather than get in their cars, this brings enormous benefits to health, community cohesion and air quality. 

The introduction of lower urban speed limits is overwhelmingly popular:

The latest YouGov 2017 survey revealed 62 per cent of Bristolians support the limits on residential roads, and 72 per cent support them on busy streets. These levels are very similar to the rest of the UK.

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Liverpool City Council passes Vision Zero Motion

On 20th September 2017 Liverpool City Council passed a motion presented by Councillors Sarah Jennings, Lawrence Brown, Tom Crone and Anna Key

“Council applauds the efforts of the Vision Zero campaign to make road safety a high priority in towns and cities around the world.

Vision Zero is based upon the belief that zero is the only acceptable number of deaths and serious injuries in the road traffic environment. It recognises that we humans make mistakes that can end in tragedy while driving and so places the onus of avoiding such tragedies on all those responsible for the total road traffic system.

Council recognises the work undertaken by this authority in recent years to invest in its highways, but notes that the number of deaths and serious injuries due to traffic incidents remains stubbornly high and that since 2010 Merseyside has witnessed a 12% increase in the number of people killed or seriously injured on its roads.

Further, it is widely recognised that working alone, a local authority cannot achieve the desired outcome of zero deaths and serious injuries on its highway network and that joint working among relevant agencies is necessary to tackle the many elements that lead to collisions.

Council therefore welcomes the positive action by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside to add a fifth item to her list of priorities, namely to “work in partnership to improve road safety”.

Council also notes that the Liverpool City Region Mayor has transport, planning, and investment within his portfolio and is in an ideal position to drive forward the aims of the Vision Zero campaign across the region.

Liverpool prides itself for having been a trailblazer for public health for centuries. As a modern, forward-thinking city we are willing to look at sustainable solutions to health problems facing a growing city, such as, among others, the increased risk of collision between motor vehicle and pedestrian that comes with increasing population and visitor numbers, along with poor air quality: problems which can be substantially addressed through the implementation of concepts such as Vision Zero.

Liverpool should stand as a forerunner with other major cities in the UK such as Manchester and London, Edinburgh and Bristol, and cities and countries around the world including Sweden, Norway, The Netherlands, New York, Boston, Toronto and others in embracing this aim.

Council therefore requests the City Mayor to work alongside the Liverpool City Region Mayor, the Police and Crime Commissioner and all relevant agencies in committing support for the aims of the Vision Zero campaign and developing a strategy to achieve the goal of reducing the number of killed and seriously injured on the city’s roads.”

One of the sponsors of the Motion, Green Councillor Lawrence Brown commented:

It’s fair to say that judging by its highways record over the past 5 years or so, Liverpool wouldn’t be the obvious choice for a trailblazing adoption of Vision Zero and everything that means. Removal of almost all of the bus, cycle and taxi lanes combined with the payment of lip service to cycling and walking in the five year, £80 million refurb of the key highways doesn’t create the right mood music for an authority demonstrating a commitment to reducing deaths and serious injuries on the roads. And oh, what a record! Merseyside, dominated by Liverpool, remains worst in Great Britain for pedestrians killed or seriously injured – and worst for child cyclists killed or seriously injured, with a rate five times that of London’s. The figures are creeping upwards when the trend urgently needs to be reversed. The data screams at you, demanding attention to cure the chronic disease of harm to human beings perpetrated by motor vehicles.

But every long trek starts with a single step. Passing a motion at the full Council meeting is certainly a strong indicator that the authority takes the matter seriously. Now it needs to demonstrate that actions speak louder than words, listening to those who have experience of VZ and acting in ways which encourage people to travel safely and sustainably. Will Liverpool succeed in pursuing this far reaching goal? Only time will tell…