Professor makes call for speed limit cut

Thursday, March 14th, 2019 2:00pm

By Andrew Morris - Local Democracy Reporter

The man leading a campaign to introduce lower speed limits in Shropshire has called on all 30mph limits to be dropped to 20mph.

Professor John Whitelegg, a Green Party transport advisor, and the lead on transport policy for the South Shropshire Green Party, called on all 30mph roads to be reduced by 10mph.

He said he recently gave evidence to the UK Parliamentary Advisory Council on the issue.

He said he explained to MPs and road safety experts that the UK was falling behind other countries on deaths and serious injuries affecting pedestrians, cyclists, children and older people.

He claimed Sweden and the Netherlands have a much better road safety record for pedestrians and cyclists than the UK because Sweden and the Netherlands have 20 mph limits on the majority of residential streets.

Professor Whitelegg, who jointly co-ordinates a Shropshire wide 20mph campaign, said he was blaming Shropshire Council.

He said: “Shropshire Council is part of the problem. It refuses to follow the recommendations of the World Health Organisation and the British Medical Association, which call for the widespread adoption of 20mph.

“Shropshire Council’s failure to implement these recommendations from public health and road safety experts, highlights the pressing need for national action to protect pedestrians, cyclists and vulnerable road users.

“We did not leave the requirement for seat belt wearing to a discussion in Shirehall.

“We did not leave limits on blood alcohol levels to a discussion in Shirehall and the same should apply to default speed limits”.

Professor Whitelegg concluded his presentation with a call for the UK Parliament to adopt the policy of the European Transport Safety Council: “Adopt a maximum 30kph/20mph speed limits in residential areas and areas where there are large numbers of cyclists and pedestrians, or where there could be potential to increase cycling and walking by investing in infrastructure.

Steve Brown, from Shropshire Council’s highways department, wrote an in-depth report into the council’s stance on 20mph limits last year. It said: “The current approach to the implementation of 20mph speed restrictions in Shropshire is based upon Department for Transport (DfT) guidance and is expected to ensure that appropriate and achievable traffic management interventions are delivered in locations where the potential benefits are greatest, particularly to i.e. children, elderly and others with a mobility impairment.

“As a key partner in road safety and speed management, Shropshire Council’s highway officers have detailed discussions with the local traffic liaison officer for West Mercia Police, who provides additional support and guidance in determining appropriate traffic management interventions.

“In line with DfT guidance, there is a presumption that 20mph speed restrictions are self-enforcing which presents a risk to Shropshire Council in managing the public’s perceptions of what can be realistically achieved on many of Shropshire’s roads.

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