Road Safety News
 

Report recommends pause on Manchester’s 20mph scheme

Thursday 9th March 2017

An evaluation of 20mph zones in Manchester has recommended that the City Council should for the time being focus on alternative road safety schemes because the zones have had little positive effect on speed, collisions and casualties.

The Daily Mail says that as a result of the evaluation, Manchester City Council is going to ‘scrap’ the 20mph scheme because it ‘makes no difference to speed or accidents’.

However, cllr Rosa Battle, executive member for the environment, says the council ‘will continue to support 20mph zones’.

Presented to the City Council’s Executive yesterday (8 March), the evaluation found that the 20mph zones have only led to an average speed reduction of 0.7mph, and the ‘amount of accidents experienced in 20mph zones has not fallen as quickly as initially hoped’.

The report also reveals that the number of cyclists and pedestrians casualties in three 20mph zones (Gorton, Miles Platting and Newton Heath, and Moss Side and Fallowfield) have fallen by less than the city’s average.

The report recommends that while more evidence is gathered, the further £687,000 in grant funding which is currently available to the council for road safety purposes, could be used to pay for alternative schemes, such as new traffic calming measures, pedestrian crossings and measures to improve safety around the city’s schools.

In the meantime, it suggests that ‘work is undertaken to better understand the full benefits of creating further 20mph zones’.

First announced in 2012, 20mph zones have been introduced on more than 1,000 roads and at 138 schools across the city. According to the Daily Mail, £1m has been spent implementing the zones.

Cllr Rosa Battle said: “It’s great to know that the amount of pedestrians and cyclists involved in collisions has fallen considerably in the last two years in Manchester and we will continue to support 20mph zones, as part of our efforts to bring those numbers down even more.

"Now it’s important that we fully understand how effective these zones have been in terms of reducing accidents so far - and determine whether we can also invest in complementary road safety schemes, to further reduce accidents on the city’s roads.”

Rod King, founder of the campaign group 20's Plenty for Us, said: “It is entirely correct for Manchester City Council to review the results from the first phases of their 20mph roll-out.

"With the first phase of the rollout including 20% of the city’s roads but less than 5% of the city’s pedestrian and cycle casualties there was already a very different profile of casualties even before the 20mph limit was implemented. And with before casualties in three areas being 12, eight and eight then there is little statistical significance in such low numbers reducing to 10, seven and seven.
 
"Despite the Daily Mail headline the City Council has endorsed the completion of the second phase and merely allowed the director of highways greater flexibility in whether funding previously exclusively allocated to 20mph limits can also be used for complementary road safety measures. It will also be looking to implement more community engagement, including Speedwatch.
 
"So, get beyond the hype and you will find that Manchester City Council is continuing its plans to make its roads better places for all to use and that 20mph streets are core to those plans.”

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Edmund King, president of the AA, said 20mph zones 'do work' but that widespread restrictions 'inspire little respect' from motorists.

He said: “It has long been recognised by government that speed limits should reflect the nature of the road and be 'evidence-led and self-explaining'. For many drivers, 20mph speed limits, particularly on main roads, are not.

“The AA would like to see more signage to explain why a 20mph speed limit is in force, such as outside a school, hospital or pedestrian area, instead of the blanket approach which inspires little respect.”

 

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Charles: reading the second para of your latest response to Rod King, I think I see your misunderstanding. You're mistaking posted speed limits as somehow an indication of the 'approved' speed or 'recommended' speed or even 'safe' speed for a road which it isn't - it's an upper limit (usually a national default speed limit, but sometimes local, as with 20s). Speed limits are a way of capping undesirable speeds.

Even the most perfect road layout (without a speed limit let's say), approved by you, would still produce too wide range of speeds - including inappropriate speeds - for the same circumstances. As I said previously, you have to factor in that not all drivers are equal and not necessarily skilled or considerate enough to drive at the appropriate speed.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (1) | Disagree (2)
-1

Rod, sure you can cherry-pick the area with the best results, but as the results there are so atypical, you need to be honest with yourself and look for the other factors that have probably skewed those results, rather than assuming that the results everywhere else are wrong. Three skewing possibilities spring to mind immediately… 1) the "before" casualty counts were abnormally high, and so the "after" results inevitably dropped back to the normal level (regression to the mean), 2) there was a significant change in traffic flow through the area because drivers diverted to avoid the new limits and took their collisions elsewhere with them, 3) some other "traffic calming" measures occurred in the area that weren't accounted for (road works, or whatever). I would say you should eliminate such freak or outlier results from the reckoning, not hold them up as proof of "success".

And no, I am not selective about which speed limits I oppose, because I have never seen a speed limit that is likely to make the road more user-friendly or safer, so I (passively) oppose them all. I know, especially in many local community and urban environments, that 20 mph can be recklessly fast, and I do not want motorists to feel pressured into trying to do such speeds when 8 - 12 mph is usually far more appropriate. 20 mph speeds are inappropriate more often than they are appropriate - anywhere, so what is the point in posting them? The most user-friendly roads and the safest roads are those where the traffic speeds are compatible with the environment and with other road users without the need for any laws or regulations, let's try to replicate them everywhere rather than break them too.
Charles, England, 20's often too fast for me!

Agree (2) | Disagree (1)
+1

Hugh, I'm a realist, so I accept ‘law breaking motorists’ as being ‘normal motorists’ - do you know a motorist who has *never* broken the law, ever (except, perhaps, for your goodself)? So, as I have written many times before, I believe that any measure that relies on all motorists complying 100% with a law for its efficacy is a bad measure, especially when there are other measures which would actually work better but which do not have such unrealistic prerequisites.

Hugh, let me ask you: do you rely totally on the anti-burglary laws for the security of your home - or do you also insist on doors and locks - just in case? Would you consider a campaign group going around the country persuading householders that they shouldn't be using expensive measures such as doors or locks, but that just a "no burglary here" sign outside their home would be sufficient as realistically "trying to improve things"?
Charles, England

Agree (3) | Disagree (1)
+2

Dear Charles. I am travelling at the moment. But if you care to read the section of the Warrington report regarding the large pilot area of Orford you will find that casualties were more than 25% less than the before figures even when factoring in the reduction in other roads over the period. Perhaps you could clarify if it is all speed limits you oppose or are you more selective.
Rod King, Helsinki

Agree (1) | Disagree (2)
-1

Charles - you should be venting your spleen at the 'couldn't care less' law breaking motorists, not those who are trying to improve things, whether the authorities or individuals.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (1) | Disagree (3)
-2

Rod, please do not assert that I oppose measures which actually deliver lower speeds. Because, as a passionate and long-term advocate of safer roads, I realise that appropriate speeds for safety are generally lower speeds. What I *do* oppose though, is your unfounded belief that speed limits have a part to play in that - as far as I can tell they are nothing more than political sops. And your irrational personal attack on me just reinforces my view that you are more interested in introducing these political sops, perhaps as sticks to beat motorists with, than in delivering safer and more user-friendly roads. Otherwise you would accept that speed limits alone are not an effective remedy, as they are shown to be totally ineffective at reducing casualties and only have a minimal, if any, effect on traffic speeds. As there are actual ways of delivering good usable roads, which also happen to deliver appropriate speeds, speed limits have no place to play in today's world - they are, in my opinion, a failed and largely discredited, idea from the past.

Also, following your refusal to support your claim that the Calderdale and Warrington 20 mph speed limit schemes were achieving “real success”, I found the Warrington “20mph Speed Limit Pilots Evaluation Report“, which revealed that there had been more casualties in their pilot scheme areas than would have been expected based on the average reductions across the rest of the district - is that what you call a success? I couldn’t find any evaluation data for Calderdale to either support or refute your claim. Over to you.
Charles, England

Agree (6) | Disagree (2)
+4

The AA's Edmund King says "...20mph zones 'do work' but that widespread restrictions 'inspire little respect' from motorists". Yes - but only from those motorists who would tend to have little respect for traffic laws, the Highway Code and other 'lesser' road users anyway.

Some 20s are inappropriate I agree, but for the majority that are appropriate, too many motorists stil ignore them through a lack of respect for the law and for those around them who may be residents or pedestrians.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (7)
-5

Charles

Yes I can, but as I am fed up with spoon feeding ideological opponents of slower speeds with information that they can perfectly easily find using Google and local authority website searches, then you can look for it using your own time.
Rod King, Warrington, Cheshire, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (5) | Disagree (6)
-1

So I ask again then Rod, can you point us to the specific reports that support those claims please.
Charles, England

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+5

Charles

Not hearsay, but presented on slides in public and are quotes from published local authority reports. Perhaps typically for someone who seems to hide behind an anonymous "Charles of England" name and location you seem to be far less clear with any facts of your own.
Rod King, Warrington, Cheshire, 20's Plenty for Us

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-5

Hearsay then, Rod - you should make that very clear in your statements, especially when challenging written evidence.
Charles, England

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+4

With regard to the claimed speed reduction in Meltham Avenue, it is right that this extraordinary reduction has been questioned. I suspect it's either a typo, a faulty survey or some temporary impediment to normal traffic flow that wasn't picked up. Either way, it should have been noticed and re-examined by the authority before publishing. A reduction of this order can typically only be achieved through physical traffic calming.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (7) | Disagree (1)
+6

Charles

These were quotes in presentations from local authority senior staff from Warrington and Calderdale at our last two conferences.
Rod King, Warrington, Cheshire, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (2) | Disagree (4)
-2

Rod, It's interesting that you criticise the relevance of the statistical analysis when the results go against the use of speed limits alone. Perhaps you need to be equally critical of the analyses when they appear to support the use of speed limits alone. You state in your "Lessons to learn…" piece that Calderdale and Warrington are achieving "real success", can you point us to the reports that support those claims please. As far as I can tell from the reports I've seen, speed limits alone do not deliver any significant road safety benefits.
Charles, England

Agree (5) | Disagree (2)
+3

We have put a comment together on what lessons we believe may be learnt from Manchester. It may be viewed at: http://www.20splenty.org/lessons_to_learn_from_manchester
Rod King, Warrington, Cheshire, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (2) | Disagree (4)
-2

Thanks Pat, I got it. I'd love to know what's happened in Meltham Avenue over the same period to get speeds down from 23mph to 13.6mph - are they claiming this is a direct result of the new 20mph signs?
Charles, England

Agree (7) | Disagree (2)
+5

If you google "manchester evaluation of 20mph" you can find the actual Council report.
At best, it is not a great day for wide area 20 schemes and pro 20 campaigners.
Pat, Wales

Agree (15) | Disagree (2)
+13

I was going to write that this is yet another £1m wasted on more pointless speed limit signs. But I suppose one could argue that the money was actually well spent if it turns out to be the final nail in the coffin of these useless political sops. Perhaps people will realise at last that if a road is deemed to require a lower speed limit to try to control traffic speeds, then the road is simply unfit for purpose and needs a fundamental redesign - there is no getting away from that. Because, we have known for years that the only places where speed limit signs "work" alone is places where traffic speeds are already around that speed anyway (i.e. the signs are a token gesture as the road is already doing its job).
Charles, England

Agree (19) | Disagree (8)
+11

I see no point in making comment in this matter as it would consist of a possible criticism of local authorities but it appears a double standard at work as I can criticise all other authorities such as the government, the police, the fire service, the AA, RAC, RoSPA, GEM etc. Oh but not the 20 is plenty scheme. So I will keep my mouth shut on this matter at this time.

Just want now to say that Manchester are looking into the problems they presently have and difficulties with rationalising the accidents that are still happening, as I said they would, in some of its 20 is plenty streets. If you want to know why they are still happening then just ask me.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (21) | Disagree (5)
+16