My Statement to Council on 20mph Zones

by Andrew Brown on 13 November, 2014

On Tuesday, there was a motion before full Council with regard to the Mayor’s roll-out of the previous Lib Dem administration’s 20mph zones across the city. This was proposed by the Tory party and called for the roll out to be stopped and for the Mayor to hold an enquiry into the schemes.

On the night, the Labour party brought forward an amendment that they had negotiated with the Tory group, which softened the language but still called for a pause in the roll-out of the programme. I was disappointed to note that this was moved by Windmill Hill Labour Councillor Sam Mongon.

The motion was passed with the support of Labour and Tories, and opposed by the Lib Dems as well as the Green Party and the Mayor. It is non-binding on the Mayor, who is minded to continue as before. Of course, Windmill Hill ward already benefits from 20mph zones in any case.

As I noted when I presented my statement to Council – yes there are some anomalies in the system, but overall the programme brings benefits to drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike.


Here is my written statement in full:

Statement to Full Council with respect to 20mph zones

Adopting the motion on your papers calling for a cessation of the roll-out of 20mph zones would be a retrograde step and one which I call on Councillors to resist.

This policy, which originated with the Liberal Democrat administration, is one which I am pleased the Mayor has continued to roll out. It is a policy designed to improve the street environment for all – not surrender them to a small, but vocal, motoring lobby.

Reducing speed limits, and encouraging behavioural change, is not about attacking drivers but about making our streets safer and more pleasant for everyone. Very few people are always drivers and never pedestrians or cyclists. Likewise, many cyclists and pedestrians are also drivers. Such generalisations and artificial divisions only serve to reduce the standard of debate and set people against policies that seek to provide benefit to all.

In many parts of the city 20mph zones are not only a convenience, they are a necessity. Places like much of Totterdown and Windmill Hill where narrow roads designed and built long before the advent of mass car ownership make 20mph not just desirable but essential. Regardless of the nature of the streets, however, reducing speeds in residential streets is of benefit to everyone – and when accidents happen, as they will, they are less severe – causing fewer serious injuries and less material damage.

The motion suggests that the zones are routinely ignored by motorists – but this isn’t an argument against the zones, rather it’s an argument for enforcement and other calming activity. Councillors who feel that the contrary applies would do well to talk to residents in Cotswold and Dunkerry Roads in Windmill Hill or Stanley Hill in Totterdown where speeding cars take advantage of rat-runs with little thought to the amenity of local residents.

I’m sure the movers of the motion will point to specific roads where they feel a 30mph limit is more realistic – and it’s true that the scheme isn’t perfect and has produced some anomalies. But along with such anomalies are others where 20mph limits haven’t been applied, including a small but very fast stretch of Redcatch Road.

Please vote against the motion and continue the roll-out. If you feel that anomalies exist, these can be addressed separately but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.


4 Responses

  1. Deb Joffe says:

    I fully agree with you on this one Andrew.

    I did think your item in Focus about St Catherine’s Place a bit disingenuous as LibDems were as split as other parties on that!

    • Andrew Brown says:

      Apologies for the delay, Deb – just found an email notifying me of this comment in my spam folder!

      Re: St Catherine’s Place – members in committee sit in a quasi-judicial role, rather than as party politicians, and there is no whipping. Local Lib Dems – Councillor Mark Bailey, former Councillor Alf Havvock, myself and Bristol South PPC Councillor Mark Wright were all against, and had submitted statements to that effect.

  2. John Davidson says:

    Have you ever had your attention drawn to this?

    • Andrew Brown says:

      I hadn’t.

      It is quite old and from the US where things may be different, it does seem to contradict the evidence I have seen from within the UK.

Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>