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HWA publishes its response to council's 20mph proposals

Saturday 15th December 2018

HWA publishes its response to council's 20mph proposals

The Hampton Wick Association strongly opposes the blanket implementation of a 20mph speed limit across all roads in the Borough.

STOP PRESS: Our friends at The Teddington Society confirm that they “are standing shoulder to shoulder” with us on this issue.

We believe it is vitally important to discriminate between side/residential roads and main roads*. There is a hierarchy of roads in this country from motorways down to small residential roads. Each level in the hierarchy is designed to carry traffic at reasonably safe speeds for that designation. No-one would suggest a 70mph limit on a residential side-road, just as no-one would suggest a 20mph limit on a motorway.

Main roads are designed to carry traffic at 30mph. Visibility, parking, pavement widths, pedestrian crossings, refuges etc have all been carefully planned over many years to make these roads as safe as possible with 30mph traffic. At strategic points such as near schools, additional speed control zones are already in place**.

Residential roads are not so designed and in general, we agree, should be designated as 20mph zones.

If, as we recommend, main roads remain at 30mph while side roads change to 20mph then we would enjoy the following benefits:

  • Through traffic and particularly heavy traffic will prefer to use main roads
  • Satnavs will largely direct traffic onto main roads instead of side roads***
  • ‘Rat runs’ down side roads will be relatively less popular both because satnavs would be significantly less likely to recommend them and because motorists would be able to genuinely and legally go faster on the main roads than side roads.

If, however, as is currently being proposed by the council, all roads are designated as 20mph then all the benefits above would be lost and:

  • Journey times for through traffic, including public transport and delivery vehicles will be made up to 50% longer. [five miles at 30mph takes ten minutes, five miles at 20mph takes 15 minutes]. This will also be detrimental to businesses.
  • Traffic will spend more time on our roads, and in lower gear, to the detriment of air quality, noise pollution and quality of life for residents****
  • Some vehicles, frustrated by the 20mph zone on the largely policed/controlled main roads will ‘let off steam’ by speeding down the largely unpoliced side roads – where most of us, our children and our pets live.

For these reasons we urge the council to reconsider its proposal and to impose a 20mph zone on residential/side roads only, leaving main roads at 30mph. We believe this will be better for pollution reduction and road safety and get traffic out of our side/residential roads to the benefit of residents.

The council’s consultation closes on 21st December. Click here to have your say.

*For the purposes of this discussion we suggest defining ‘main roads’ as those along which scheduled (red) bus services operate.

**We would support the extension of 20mph zones to shopping ‘High Streets’ such as in Hampton Wick or Teddington and in other relevant areas, as has been done in Twickenham.

***Most motorists have their satnavs set to provide the fastest routes. In calculating these fastest routes, satnavs consider the speed limit on a given road on the route. Satnavs will tend to prefer roads with higher speed limits, all else being equal.

****It is difficult to believe that a car travelling at 20mph whose engine is in 3rd gear for 15 minutes won’t produce more pollution than a car whose engine is in 4th gear travelling at 30mph for only 10 minutes.