Time for Twenty

Recently I learned that 2km is the distance above which active travel rates for children travelling to school drop.  A little over one mile is just too far for many parents when negotiating their local roads.

I get it; I also limit the journeys I make with my children in the cycle trailer to hyper-local trips, of around one mile. However, I would love to feel enabled to tackle longer journeys but the reality is that too many of our roads are too hostile for 8-80 cycling.

Tragically, this isn’t simply my ‘perception’ of danger. This last month has seen a sweep of horrendous incidents on roads all within a few kilometres of my home; firstly, a man cycling left in critical condition by a collision on Anerley Hill, then two hit and runs within a few days of each other; a four year old girl left with life threatening or life changing injuries after being hit by a car in the middle of the day in Thornton Heath and another person cycling, left severely injured in the road in Selhurst.

What these roads all have in common is the fact they all have 30mph speed limits. Dr Adrian Davis’ ‘Essential Evidence‘ blog highlights the fact that the International Transport Forum of the Organisation for Economic and Cultural Development (OECD) recommends that all societies work towards a 30km/h (18mph) speed limit in all built up areas ‘where there is a mix of vulnerable road users and motor vehicle traffic’ given that ‘Research consistently shows that lower speeds reduce deaths and injuries, not least because there is more time to react’

When Caroline Russell presented her work into London’s hostile roads earlier this year, she called for Transport for London to consider reducing the speed limit on all its roads. We strongly support this recommendation and very much hope our own and our neighbouring outer London boroughs will equally reduce the speed limit on all their roads through built up areas in line with the work already in place in neighbouring Southwark and further away in Bristol.

Given 83% of all pedestrian casualties occur on urban roads and 77% of cyclist fatalities occur on roads with 30mph speed limits, switching to a default of 20mph on all urban roads seems the simplest way of protecting all road users.

And if we are serious about enabling more families to walk and cycle short journeys, then we need to get serious about making our roads safer.


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