Road safety funding should be flexible

At a time when we as a council have little spare money it has to be questioned whether the £500,000 earmarked for blanket 20mph limits is the most effective use of money to improve road safety.

There are many ways in which £500,000 of funding earmarked for road safety could be spent, such as road safety education and training, traffic calming schemes, pedestrian crossings and other measures targeted at areas with a history of accident black spots.

The problem is the lack of flexibility in how the £500,000 is to be spent – the council has said it is purely for blanket 20mph zones.

As someone whose day job is road safety and with 20 years’ roads policing experience, I do have a number of concerns about the impact a blanket approach to 20mph limits could have:

1. Pedestrians could become complacent and pay less attention to the traffic around them believing it to be travelling slower, thereby creating a false sense of security;

2. Those who already abuse the existing 30mph  limit are unlikely to stick to a 20mph limit, and the council has admitted that the 20mph is supposed to be ‘self-enforcing’;

3. The police are highly unlikely to enforce the limit and the safety camera vans are also not going to be involved.

4. Those who stick to the 20mph limit stand a chance of aggression from those who do not wish to;

5. The existing successful 20mph limits around schools will have less impact as they will not stand out from the rest of the road system, meaning fewer drivers will slow down approaching schools.

In the recent consultation only around 22 per cent of people in Keynsham responded. Of that number 791 were in favour of a 20 limit while 687 voted against it. 72 had no opinion. 

This relatively low response rate and narrow margin shows that many people remain ambivalent.

There is of course a place for 20mph limits in locations which warrant such a speed limit, in this respect I agree with Charles Gerrish wishing to have a 20mph limit on the narrow and lower section of Charlton Road, but I question the road safety benefits of a blanket approach.

I fear that this is once again the Bath-based Liberal Democrats imposing their own preferences upon our town, when they could instead give flexibility to the £500,000 to allow it to be spent on other road safety schemes to address real issues.

Cllr Alan Hale,

Keynsham South