A committee of Coventry City councillors has been established to develop recommendations on how requests for 20 mph. zones and limits should be assessed and prioritised. In mid November, the committee sought views from representatives of the 20s Plenty Campaign, the West Midlands Police and Coventry Cycling Campaign.
After introducing Coventry Cycling Campaign, I reminded councillors of the advantages of improving conditions for cycling. It helps to tackle obesity and traffic congestion using a means of transport open to a large section of society. Including, for example, people on low incomes and the under 17's.
Last year in the UK, more bicycles were bought than cars, yet their owners rarely use them. The main reason being fear of motor traffic. The Department of Transport's National Travel Survey found that 47% of adults questioned strongly agreed with the statement that "the idea of cycling on busy roads frightens me" and a further 27% tended to agree with the statement. While Britain's has a good record for injuries to car occupants, we are far lower down the international league table regarding injuries to cyclists and pedestrians. Cyclists or pedestrians account for 22% of UK traffic deaths, while in countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium & Luxembourg the proportion is less than 10%. There's a particular problem in deprived areas.
Impatient motorists scare would-be cyclists; even in relatively quiet roads some adults cycle on the footway, putting pedestrians at risk. If motorists didn't feel they had the right to travel at 30 mph, they would be more willing to slow down when cyclists were around. If the whole of the city were covered by a 20 mph zone, people would be able to cycle many trips entirely on quiet roads. If these roads were full of cyclists, motorists wouldn't be able to travel so fast anyway!
There are strong arguments for slowing traffic as a mean of improving the quality of city streets (note the city centre) and making them more child friendly, but I let the other speakers take up those issues. See the 20's Plenty website.
Overall the councillors were rather positive about increasing the extent of 20 mph zones within Coventry. Mention was made of this proposal, out for public consultation in Birmingham:
- All unclassified roads within the administrative boundary of Birmingham would have a 20 mph speed limit;
- A and B roads would retain their current limits, except where they pass near the entrances of schools, through shopping parades or near the entrances to parks and leisure centres where the speed limit would be reduced to 20 mph.
Perhaps 2014 will see a similar proposal for Coventry?