20mph zones can help to make our streets safer for all

Andrew PellingCROYDON COMMENTARY: Our borough has some of the most dangerous roads in London, so ANDREW PELLING, pictured, finds it saddening that the local Tories are campaigning against safer speed limits

Road safety is a vital concern for Greater London, Croydon and its residents.

That has to be the case with more than 30,000 people being killed or injured in traffic collisions in London each year. Usually, it is the most vulnerable road users – pedestrians, motor cyclists and cyclists – who come off worse in such collisions. All that human misery hurts both victims and their families.

In that context, next week, the London Road Safety Council (LRSC) will be marking its centenary with a conference at The Guildhall in The City on Tuesday. Originally known as the London Accident Prevention Council, the LRSC has a great history of public education on road safety and raising the profile of road safety and road safety education.

In times when shock advertising had more effect, the organisation found itself immersed in controversy when, just after the Second World War, it used a picture of a widow in mourning to urge motorists to avoid carelessness.

Road safety advertisements have been refined since the 1940s

Road safety advertisements have been refined since the 1940s

Today, the LRSC brings together borough road safety officers and local councillors. I chair the LRSC’s Executive Committee having been nominated by Croydon Council since the 2014 local elections.

The president of the LRSC since 2015 has been the Olympic gold medal-winning rower James Cracknell, whose interest in road safety is motivated by his experience of having been seriously injured one early morning by a petrol tanker while journeying across the United States. His cycling helmet saved his life.

The LRSC’s profile has also been bolstered by work for Transport for London to heighten awareness of road safety, generous support from the City of London Corporation and a much enhanced social media presence.

Among the intriguing items on the agenda at this week’s conference is a talk on the first air bag for cyclists and feedback from Atkins professional transport planners, who are doing a three-year study for the Department for Transport on 20mph zones including how well they are being observed by motorists.

This, of course, is particularly relevant to Croydon with the current consultation on extending 20mph zones throughout the borough.


Croydon’s roads are among the most dangerous in the capital, according to research conducted for TfL from 2011-2015

Most 20mph zones are currently in south-east and inner north-east London. During the period from 2011 to 2015, along with five north London boroughs and Lewisham, Croydon’s roads were among the most dangerous in the capital, measured by KSIs (killed or seriously injured) per billion kilometres travelled.

In the 12 months to March 2016, 1,094 people were injured in traffic collisions on Croydon roads. Three people were killed and 60 seriously injured. Overall injury numbers were up on the previous year even though the long-term trend in Croydon and London is for significant reductions in traffic injuries.

With so much death and injury across our local roads, I find it rather sad that the Croydon Conservatives have found themselves in a position of lobbying for faster speed limits and against the 20mph zones proposed.

Previous TfL-commissioned research shows that on 20mph roads the number of killed and seriously injured casualties is more than halved, reduced by 57 per cent, and the frequency of other injury accidents reduced by 42 per cent.

  • Andrew Pelling, a former Croydon MP and London Assembly Member, is now a Labour councillor in Waddon ward

  • Inside Croydon is Croydon’s only independent news source, still based in the heart of the borough. In 2016, we averaged 17,000 page views every week
  • If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or a local event to publicise, please email us with full details at inside.croydon@btinternet.com

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Andrew Pelling, Commuting, TfL, Transport, Waddon and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to 20mph zones can help to make our streets safer for all

  1. Now stand by for a tsunami of insults and name calling from those dedicated, for obscure and complicated personal reason, to driving as fast as possible all the time instead of reasoned arguments, a flood of trite and meaningless slogans like “Speed doesn’t kill, stupidity does” (of course, the two never ever go together), “I don’t want to live in a nanny state”, “All our personal freedoms are being eroded” and so on.

    They will not be pleasant and will end with “Make Britain Great Again!”…bigly. What you will not get is anything like a discussion. That has gone out of the window now as a way of resolving differences.

  2. Peter Bell says:

    I am just surprised that the noxious Peter Morgan was not first onto this forum posting his insidious poison – he nearly always has an opinion about this. I have often wondered what drives a man such as he, & why he is so vehement about allowing people to blight other’s lives with their carelessness within a vehicle. I would offer to suggest a dose of free counselling, but then i realised that these services were withdrawn by his mates on Croydon Council many years ago. (I just wish the current administration did not follow their poor example)

  3. Following the argument to its logical conclusion. Why stop at 20mph? Let’s knock it down to 10mph. Or 5mph. Get the things travelling slow enough and pedestrians will be able to run around them with no risk of injury at all. ‘Allowing people to blight other’s lives with their carelessness in a vehicle’. What? You surely mean allowing the great majority of road users to go about their business perfectly safely. There were three road deaths in Croydon in the year to March 2016. All tragedies. But caused by what? Was it speed? Or was it carelessness? And on whose part? After the atrocity of Dunblane, the Government acted in a knee-jerk fashion, introducing a set of laws that wiped out almost every perfectly law abiding gun club in Britain. The same laws, applied retrospectively, still wouldn’t have prevented the shooting from happening. They penalised the law-abiding just to be seen to be ‘doing something’.Idiots in fast cars will still happen, and penalising (and it is penalising) everybody is no solution. And an unenforceable new limit is no answer, just a piece of political posturing, regardless of party.

    • Except that is far from a *logical* conclusion. And if you really think that your life will be blighted by having to drive your car at 20mph on some residential streets, then you really need to get out more. But not in your car

    • Nick Davies says:

      I’m glad that they introduced laws that wiped out most gun clubs. Such organisations should never have existed in the first place. Firearms have only one practical purpose, and should only be used in highly defined circumstances. The fewer people who have access to guns the better.

  4. About 90% of my driving is around the Borough of Croydon. Five or six times a year I drive to the National Archives at Kew, a distance of about 15 miles which takes me one and a quarter hours. Where on earth in Croydon, apart from Grange Road, can you actually do over 20 mph ? This is a publicity driven unenforceable sledgehammer to crack a very small nut. And, NO, I don’t need to drive everywhere at 80 mph. Don’t even do that on the M25.

  5. Looking at the map that shows the serious or fatal accidents that occurred between 2010-2013 the overwhelming number of accidents happened on the very roads that are EXCLUDED from the 20mph restriction. So why are they suggesting a blanket restriction on roads that have so few accidents?

  6. croydonres says:

    Clearly, when it comes to vehicle speed through the streets, One man’s ‘reasonable limit’ is another man’s ‘reprehensible limitation’

  7. Nick Davies says:

    Why is it “unenforceable”? Try having an accident where the evidence suggests you were speeding. You’ll soon find out how unenforcible it is. And your insurance company won’t be too amused, either.

  8. For those that remember the TV advert 30mph is the speed above which child victims are much less likely to survive. I explained this to Peter Morgan when he was suggesting 40mph as the limit. Clearly survival rates increase rapidly below 30mph and 20mph is around the point where you would be unlucky to be killed by a straight on impact. There is no such thing as a safe speed but an actual speed of 20-25mph (we all tend to venture over the various limits) is a good compromise but difficult to enforce.

  9. I should have used the word “unenforced”. True if speeding is suspected in any accident the police may well be interested. But that’s a bit late. There will be no regular constant enforcement as police numbers will not allow for it.

  10. Nick Davies says:

    There is no regular constant enforcement of the rules about seat belts, traffic lights, bald tyres, mobile phone use or for that matter diving under the influence. You are only likely to get in trouble if you draw attention to yourself in some other way. Are all these laws a pointless waste of time too?

  11. What I find saddening is that Councillor Pelling has chosen to make this a political issue.

    Of course everyone is in favour of reducing accidents. The question is about effectiveness, about whether what the council is proposing will do that.

    The evidence quoted from a tfl report was for 20 mph zones, but for zones where extensive additional investment was made in speed bumps, chicanes and other ‘traffic calming’ measures. Croydon Council will be merely putting up 20 mph signs with no additional measures. Evidence is that this achieves little in the way of speed reduction.

    There is also the question of fairness. Surveys were held in the first two areas proposed with only narrow votes in favour, yet this is being skipped in the remaining three areas.

    • You must be utterly devastated, then, that your political party, the Tories, led by Tim Dullard, have opted to oppose safer roads and make it a political issue by campaigning on a load of half-truths and lies provided to them by a UKIP reject

      • Suggest you read what I wrote. I am interested in public money being spent to good effect.

        I am currently looking at the area around my house to decide whether there is anywhere where merely putting up signs will be effective. I have currently found one cut-through road which already has speed bumps and a short section near a school playing field.

        • If you want fewer, life-threatening accidents, costing the NHS, insurers and employers many millions, then you will want 20mph zones, Robert. They are proven to be safer, which is not the party line which Croydon Conservatives – of which we understand you to be a member – adhered to when they chose to politicise the issue of 20mph zones. And your previous comment said nothing about effectiveness of public spending.

          If you want to know why there’s so little speed calming on the streets of Croydon, we suggest that you go ask your Tory chum Phil “Two Permits” Thomas about why he acted on behalf of the motoring lobby to issue a borough-wide edict against speed bumps (which of course play merry hell with the suspension of low-slung German sports cars, of the type which Cllr Thomas has owned).

          • I would have thought that it is implicit that doing something that makes no difference is a waste of public money, about which we should all be concerned.

            My opinion is that 20 mph zones, by which I mean areas where an integrated approach of a speed limit, traffic calming measures and enforcement are an effective way of reducing accidents. In the right areas I would support them. I looked in detail at the first area that was proposed and could find no sensible arguments for what was proposed.

            As I pointed out I am now looking at my local area and have found a couple of places where it would be sensible. Extending 20 mph to the immediately contiguous area around them also looks reasonable, speeds on those roads are already less than 20 mph. That does not mean I support the proposal in its entirety. This is not an all or nothing decision, it is a horses for courses situation.

            I am member of the Conservative Party. In that party we are allowed to have opinions. This is mine.

          • It’s only your, and your local party’s leader, assertion that the 20mph zones “makes no difference”.

            Yes, more enforcement would be good (if only our recently departed Tory Mayor and Steve O’Connell hadn’t presided over so many cuts in policing numbers, eh, Robert?) or supporting traffic calming measures would assist in achieving the policy goals.

            But all the evidence from other areas which have introduced 20mph zones, including Croydon, suggests they work.

            And now we have another story: “Leading local Tory says – 20mph zones are not such a bad idea”. Thanks.

    • Peter Bell says:

      Councillor Pelling is and has been for many years a “polical animal”, I am surprised at your surprise. I do not know him well, but when i have met him, he appears to me to have the welfare of his constiuents at heart, i am convinced he believes a 20 mph zone is a good thing for Waddon & by extension the whole (or most) of Croydon, particularly the suburbs (leafy & otherwise). Why would he not make a good case for this policy. Is it a waste of money – well it is difficult to argue against that 20 mph zones reduce accidents as there are too many reports out there suggesting it is a good idea (no matter what the odious PM leaflets say) We have to ask “is it a good use of tax payers money” in today’s climate of reduced central Govt funding. The parents amongst us and the elderly would probably agree that it is as it affects them and their ilk directly, but those of “comfortable means” seem to baulk at ANY even modest increase in Tax to be used to benefit the many (albeit less well off) s which is really quite shaming. Unfortunately i do not know if it is good value for money (what with Purley Women’s refuge being shut down and all the other council services being reduced too, who is to say what is more important than the other) . Well the simple answer is “your elected representatives” of which Councillor Pelling is one. Sometimes we just have to trust folk and if they screw up – vote them out next time. er…. it’s what we call democracy. Personally i think he has a good point and i would rather him fighting my corner than any friend of Mr Ward

Leave a Reply