Croydon Council are consulting on 20mph speed limits on residential roads in the north of the borough.
The consultation takes the form of a brief survey – it takes just a minute or two to fill in, and we strongly recommend that you do so if you support their proposal.
Croydon 20mph – map of proposals – roads in GREEN to remain at 30mph
What are the council proposing?
That the speed limit be set at 20mph on residential (that is, non “A” and “B”-designated) roads, in the densely populated northern part of the borough, covering Crystal Palace, Thornton Heath, parts of Norbury, Selhurst and South Norwood. In addition, they plan to adopt the same 20mph limit on Grange Road (A212), an accident blackspot.
Isn’t this just about them making money?
No. Unlike parking tickets, councils don’t get to keep the money from speeding fines; 20mph limits on minor roads are not camera-enforced.
Won’t it add to journey times and congestion?
In the proposed area, you’re never more than half a mile from a 30mph main road. So in the worst case, that’s an extra few seconds. 20mph limits do not cause congestion – road capacity (vehicles per hour) increases as speed decreases, because of braking distances.
But why 20mph?
20mph limits reduce road accidents – and when they do happen, it greatly reduces their severity. Some sources quote the death and serious injury rate for pedestrians & cyclists involved in collision with cars as being 10x higher at 30mph vs 20mph. This safer road environment means more people feel able to walk, cycle and let their kids travel to school independently – which in turn reduces congestion for those who actually need to drive.
Careful driving at 20mph also reduces those annoyingly commonplace dings and broken wing mirrors on our narrow residential streets.
Other London boroughs like Islington, Southwark and Lambeth have already adopted 20mph limits, and it hasn’t caused gridlock. Lewisham plan to do the same. It’s all about establishing a new norm for streets where people live – which strikes a fairer balance between the advantages of driving, and the disadvantage of those exposed to its hazards. In Portsmouth, when they adopted 20mph limits the casualty rate fell by 20% in the first year – with no measurable impact on journey times.
Residential streets should be places for people.
The roads the council are proposing to be 20mph do not perform an essential through-traffic function – the council’s own Traffic Management Committee recognises that. Of course they need vehicle access – for residents, deliveries, trades – but they should be first and foremost a place for the community that lives there. The Dutch have a wonderful phrase for this – “Cars are Guests”. “Yes, you can drive here, but your needs are not paramount above those who live, work and play on the street”.
Do the council’s plans go far enough?
A good question. Our view is “almost, but not quite”. There are a few safety critical areas not currently considered for 20mph, which we believe need to be taken in to account:
* On main “A”/”B” roads near schools – Zebra crossing compliance is much improved at 20mph, and children are notoriously bad at judging the speed/distance of approaching traffic.
* On designated cycle network routes (“London Cycle Network”) in situations where cyclists are expected to share the carriageway with traffic, if the route can’t reasonably be re-routed via 20mph roads AND if a seperate cycle lane can’t be provided. It’s preferable to re-route or separate cyclists from traffic, but if that can’t be done, a 20 limit ought to be adopted.
* In busy town centres with large numbers of pedestrians & sometimes narrow pavements: Crystal Palace, Thornton Heath, South Norwood etc. – usually traffic flows quite slowly here anyway, but there are pockets of high speed.
If you support the scheme, it may be worth communicating these points on the feedback form.
Take the survey here – let us know what you think in the comments below.