2mph doesn’t make roads feel any safer

ATTEMPTS by Environment & Infrastructure to draw comfort from the minimal effects of their speed limit changes are predictable, if absurd.

Given the scorn heaped on the committee as it ignored the results of a public consultation and ploughed on with an unpopular move it is hardly surprising that it should cling to any positives.

In truth, the programme has failed in its stated mission: to make the roads feel safer.

No pedestrian walking along Le Friquet, or any of the other lanes and highways sporting shiny new 25mph signs, will feel safer because of a 1 or 2 mph drop in the average speed.

No cyclist negotiating their way along Braye Road will feel safer as a truck thunders past.

No one waiting to cross these roads will feel safer as an SUV surfs the pavement to squeeze past a bus.

E&I is right, the changes do look small. Because they are small. They are significant only in their insignificance.

No one will measure their safety based on an average. Instead it will be on the most reckless driver, one who would have been already breaking the law under existing traffic regulations.

Statistics predicting a 6% drop in the likelihood of accidents per 1mph drop and a 4-5% cut in the chances of serious injury or death if a crash occurs would carry more weight if we did not know that the number of road accidents is already very low.

Accidents and injuries caused by ‘speeding’ between 25 and 35mph are even rarer.

For those outside the E&I bubble, a fractional change to something that is already minimal to start with is hard to get excited about.

Any slowing of speed is to be welcomed but, if the aim is to get more pedestrians and cyclists on the roads, it is impossible to see such a marginal change having any effect.

There were better, more tangible, options open to the committee such as new pavements, one-way systems, off-street parking and more off-road paths.

Targeting known accident blackspots and difficult junctions would improve safety for all road users.

An unenforceable 25mph limit in roads and lanes where the safe speed is determined more by the conditions than any traffic sign is little more than window-dressing.

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