Evidence in support of 20mph

Get Sutton Cycling wrote to Sutton Council Leader Ruth Dombey on 19 August 2018, providing evidence in support of 20mph. 

A response or acknowledgement had not been received by 19 November 2018. From this point, given that three months had passed since we had sent our email to Ruth, there was no expectation of receiving a response. 

Evidence in support of 20mph

Dear Ruth,

At a pre-May election hustings event, organised by the Sutton Civic Society and held on 16 April this year, at which Cllr. Simon Wales (Deputy Leader of the Council at the time) and yourself were present on the behalf of the Sutton Liberal Democrats, the following question was posed: “Almost all of the boroughs in central London now have 20mph limits on residential streets. Our neighbouring boroughs of Croydon and Wandsworth have both implemented a 20mph limit on all of their residential roads. Will you commit to taking action to reduce the speed limit to 20mph on all of Sutton’s residential roads and streets?”

In your reply you said that you accepted that speeding was a problem in the borough, and that something had to be done about it (mentioning Collingwood Road, Sutton Common Road and Rosehill Park West as Speed Watch locations in your ward of Sutton North). Although you were not convinced that a 20mph speed limit across the whole borough was the answer, you would be happy to receive any evidence that suggested otherwise.

In this regard, I thought you might like to see the attached document supplied by Jeremy Leach, London Campaign Coordinator for 20s Plenty, which outlines all of the research into the impact of 20mph speed limits including three recent studies from early in 2018. Of particular interest perhaps, given the budgeting constraints and funding difficulties that local authorities are facing, is the final item report from Calderdale Council [1] suggesting a rate of return of £3.65 for every £1 spent. I hope you find the documentation of interest, and perhaps you can share this with your colleagues in Sutton and in the neighbouring Liberal Democrat controlled boroughs of Kingston and Richmond. (Incidentally, the Bristol Cycling Campaign recently detailed seven good reasons as to why Einstein (!) would support 20mph [2], and top of the list is a reduction in collisions and their severity).

It is clear then, from the evidence, that 20mph reduces casualty rates. That fact alone really should be enough to make the case as to why Sutton (and London as a whole) takes the decision to proceed with borough-wide implementation (noting that support for 20mph tends to go up after implementation because residents then see what 20mph limits mean in their daily lives). However, 20mph is not the silver bullet when it comes to enabling active travel for many people. 20mph will certainly encourage people to consider active travel, but 20mph alone is unlikely to facilitate active travel when traffic volumes are high. That is why it is good to have your support for low traffic neighbourhoods [3], and to know that a bid for Liveable Neighbourhoods funding [4] is being prepared for the borough centred on Sutton town centre. Additionally, the provision of dedicated, high-quality, protected space for cycling on busy roads is also an essential requirement. Nevertheless, there is a growing consensus that 20mph is a far more appropriate speed limit than 30mph for all of our residential roads, and I hope you agree that the attached casualty document testifies to this.

Finally, I would like to take the opportunity to mention that a Cheam resident has been in touch today to say that many people driving along Church Hill Road (Nonsuch ward/Cheam ward), part of an area recently converted to a 20 mph zone, would appear to be ignoring the new lower speed limit. (A speed activated sign, advising drivers they are exceeding the 20mph speed limit, is apparently not functioning either). This demonstrates the importance of measures to support the implementation of 20mph, highlighted by Steer Davies and Gleave in their report for the London Borough of Merton in November 2014 [5]: “supporting measures that foster cultural change need to be an integral part of all 20mph schemes”. As campaigners, we can help highlight the issues and endeavour to make the case. But we rely on politicians to actually make it happen. Obviously you wish to take the residents, the voters, with you. Building the conversation on the evidence will hopefully do that, especially given the evidence: 20mph reduces casualty rates, saves money, and receives the approval of residents once implemented.

With best wishes,

Charles Martin
Borough coordinator for the London Cycling Campaign in Sutton



[1] Calderdale Council: Place Scrutiny Board 26 April 2018 ’20mph zones’: https://calderdale.gov.uk/council/councillors/councilmeetings/agendas-detail.jsp?meeting=24991
[2] Bristol Cycling Campaign: ‘7 reasons Einstein would support 20mph’ (14 August 2018): https://bristolcycling.org.uk/7-reasons-einstein-would-support-20-mph/
[3] London Cycling Campaign: Briefing documents on low traffic neighbourhoods (London Cycling Campaign/Living streets, June 2018): https://lcc.org.uk/pages/low-traffic-neighbourhoods
[4] TfL: Liveable Neighbourhoods (accessed 19 August 2018): https://tfl.gov.uk/info-for/boroughs/liveable-neighbourhoods
[5] Steer Davies Gleave: ‘Research in to the impact of 20mph speed limits and zones’ for the London borough of Merton (November 2014) http://www.roadsafetyknowledgecentre.org.uk/downloads/20mph-reportv1.0-FINAL.pdf


’20’s Plenty for Us: Research on the impact of 20mph Limits on Casualties’: Impact of 20mph Limits – Casualties – 20 May 2018

v1.1: 20.11.2018

Posted in 20mph, Advocacy

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