Brighton and Hove looks set to become a 20mph zone. Town hall chiefs say it will make streets safer, reduce accidents, improve air quality and push people towards biking and walking. Others have raised fears it will also increase congestion and make journeys longer. Tim Ridgway and Ben Leo report.
The centre of Brighton and Hove is expected to become a 20mph zone next year as part of a £1.5million plan.
A Brighton and Hove City Council transport committee will next week vote on recommendations to press ahead with the first phase in the groundbreaking plan to cut speeds.
The move follows a city-wide consultation, with 55% supporting the plan - and 45% against.
The local authority says this is a “clear majority” in favour, allowing it to push ahead with the plan, beginning with the city centre.
If successful, the local authority hopes to extend it to outlying areas of the city over the coming years.
Ian Davey, chairman of the council’s transport committee, said: “The idea is to improve safety and quality of life for residents and those who live in, or visit, the city.
“We are not talking about a citywide blanket 20mph ban, the emphasis is on residential and shopping areas, excluding main routes in and out of the city and across the city.”
A decision on the first phase will be taken at the council’s transport committee meeting on November 27 in Hove Town Hall.
If approved, the local authority will formally advertise the speed limit changes and they could be introduced next year.
The first planned zone will stretch from Sackville Road in Hove to Freshfield Road in Brighton. The border in the north will be Old Shoreham Road and New England Road.
None of those roads, or the A259 coastal road, will be included.
The council has so far failed to produce a list of roads which will be included in the 20mph, raising concerns among opposition councillors about a “blanket ban”.
Conservative councillor Graham Cox said he would be seeking clarification on whether main thoroughfares such as Davigdor Road were included.
Coun Cox said: “I think there’s a need in residential roads and near schools but not a blanket ban across the city.
“In some respects I’m quite glad they are starting off in the most obvious area: the city centre.”
Labour councillor Alan Robins said: “Although we support 20mph zones in principle and want to see them implemented in those neighbourhoods currently suffering from speeding and rat-running traffic, we do have significant concerns with what is being proposed by the Greens, which is a blanket approach that includes some arterial roads across the city.”
Roger French, of Brighton and Hove Bus Company, said there were some concerns about journey times being affected during early mornings and at night.
Mr French said: “During the day it will not really affect us. But when there is less traffic on the road we build that into the timetables “The restrictions will mean we will have to add more time to get from the start to the end of the route.”
He added this could mean there would be fewer buses on the road.
Mick Hildreth, of the Brighton and Hove taxi section of GMB union, said: “Why has the council not consulted us or the local Taxi Trade Forum representatives?
“With more than 1,800 licensed drivers the stakeholders in our industry have a vital role to play with respect to consultations of this kind.
“I would request this issue is suspended until consultation with the taxi trade is completed.”
When asked about it increasing congestion and journey times, Coun Davey said: “We want to keep the city moving.”
He added evidence from other areas had shown there had not been a negative impact.
Coun Davey said: “We do understand people’s concerns and if the first phase goes ahead in the city centre we will monitor it closely and keep it under review.”
It comes after the local authority introduced two 20mph speed limit areas earlier this year near schools in Brighton and Portslade village. The council say no accidents have been recorded in these two areas since.
Sussex Police, which didn’t lodge an objection during the consultation, said it would only support 20mph speed limits when they were self-enforcing.
They said they expected there would be “sufficient traffic calming measures in place to ensure that average speeds are kept low” but would not actively enforce the new limit.
Public consultations for the plans were held between June and August this year.
Brighton and Hove City Council sent out 10,000 surveys to randomly selected businesses and residents across the city as well as holding three day exhibitions at both Brighton and Hove town halls. Out of the 10,000 surveys sent, the council received a response from 3,689 individuals - or 37%.
The council said the ‘clear majority’ of responses, 55%, were in favour of the proposals.
The majority of support came from parents, those with disabilities and the elderly. Business owners and managers showed the least support.
Objectors to the proposals cited various reasons, including eight percent who only wanted a 20 mph zone enforced in certain areas such as schools, shops and play areas as opposed to a blanket reduction.
Another eight percent of respondents had concerns that the new limit would not be enforced.
Seven percent feared the changes would lead to increased traffic congestion while another seven percent were concerned about the cost of the scheme.
Six percent thought the new limit would lead to increased emissions and pollution and the final six percent thought the changes would lead to increased journey times.
The council suggested it was likely the scheme would encourage people to make “healthier active travel choices”, such as walking and cycling.
The overall cost of the project is expected to be around £1.5m but Brighton and Hove City Council say the figure will be reviewed on an annual basis.
A 20mph scheme in London has proved successful in the fight to reduce road traffic casualties.
In a report by the British Medical Journal in 2009, the implementation of 20mph zones on selected roads from 1986-2006 cut crashes which led to injuries by more than 40%.
The report found the number of children seriously injured or killed on the road had been halved and that only one in 40 pedestrians were killed in a collision in a 20 mph zone. That compared with one in five for a collision in a 30 mph zone.
Cyclist injuries were also reduced by 17%.
Neil Hopkins, spokesman for the Sussex Safer Roads partnership, said: “The Sussex Safer Roads Partnership support the view that 20mph speed limits are community sponsored initiatives and as such, the community should play a major part in reducing speed and influencing their own behaviours.
“The limits are designed to be self-enforcing, which will be achieved when any proposed 20mph limit is appropriate for the road where mean speeds are already low and correctly implemented, with that support from the local community. “
He said that “engineering measures” – such as road bumps and chicanes - should be used if drivers do not cut their speed.
Should the plans be given the go-ahead on November 27, the changes would be phased in starting from the city centre outwards.
- Government figures for congestion on A-roads shows the average speed of traffic in Brighton and Hove is less than 18mph.
- According to the latest figures from the Department for Transport, in May this year the average speed on the streets of Brighton and Hove was 17.7mph.
- Speeds have fluctuated over the last few years, peaking at 18.8mph in August 2009, and not dipping lower than 17mph since November 2006.
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