Last night I attended Croydon Council’s Scrutiny Committee meeting, where plans to implement 20 miles per hour (mph) zones in some of Croydon North’s residential areas were outlined. The scheme would mean that cars will have to travel at a reduced maximum speed of 20 mph, down from the current 30 mph. Areas affected in Croydon North will include:
- All roads north of Beulah Hill in Upper Norwood
- All roads to the east of London Road, between Windmill/Whitehorse Road and Brigstock Road
- All roads to the west of London Road in West Thornton ward, between Thornton Road and Galpins Road
- All roads to the east of Mitcham Road in West Thornton ward, between Thornton Road and Aurellia Road
- All roads to the west of London Road in Norbury, between Pollards Hill South and and Abingdon/Colebrook Road
The main reason given for these plans was that it would improve road safety for cyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users. However it must be noted that evidence from other cities where this has been implemented is mixed. While some areas have shown a reduction in accidents, others have shown no clear trends in any direction. Further, road accidents in general have been falling across the UK, so any reduction in specific areas may or may not be due to the introduction of lower speed limits.
The Council plans to spend £300,000 in the next financial year to implement these schemes. Given the financial pressures we face, one has to question whether this is the best use of the Council’s limited resources. After all the money could be spent on resurfacing our roads, fixing pot holes, or introducing better facilities for cyclists.
Then there is the issue of enforcement. The police quite clearly stated at the meeting that they do not have the resources to effectively enforce these speed limits in residential areas. Given this, will all drivers adhere to these limits? We could have a very dangerous situation where pedestrians and cyclists expect cars to travel at 20 mph, but find them travelling much faster at 30 mph.
Finally, and most importantly, the policy has to be implemented only in streets where local residents actually want them. I will fully support residents who want 20 mph zones on their street, but this must be determined only after an extensive consultation exercise, where each and every resident is asked for their views. We should not accept any sham consultation undertaken by the Council, just for the sake of justifying this policy. We all want safer streets, with better facilities for cyclists and pedestrians, but any policy must be implemented only if local residents specifically desire it.
Over the next few weeks I will be meeting with residents in the affected areas, and canvassing their views. In the meantime if you want to contact me with your views on this issue (or any other concern you may have), please email me at: email@example.com