Speed limits of 20mph are not a pragmatic solution to the problems on the road - Yorkshire Post Letters

From: Michael Green, Baghill Green, Tingley.

I wouldn’t go as far as Jayne Dowle does in opposing all 20mph zones (The Yorkshire Post, September 28). There are several locations where they are, sadly, necessary.

The problem is, that they have so often been introduced as a matter of dogma, in complete disregard of whether they are needed or not.

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Leeds started by introducing them outside school entrances (praiseworthy in principle, if only they had been confined to school hours); but then, without changing their criteria, have now applied them in almost all built-up areas other than main roads.

A 20 mph traffic speed sign.A 20 mph traffic speed sign.
A 20 mph traffic speed sign.

Wales seems to have adopted the limit on all urban roads. The theoretical (heart-tugging) justification has been a previous record of injury accidents caused by speeding.

But let’s be rational about it. Most speeding accidents in 30mph zones have been caused by drivers exceeding that limit. If the idiots aren’t going to slow down for 30, then by what stretch of the imagination does anybody think they’re suddenly going to start being good boys and girls because the limit is now 20? Dream on.

And then let’s look at the claim that pollution is reduced. The reality is that the air pollution from vehicles slowed down, whether by speed limits or more physical measures like humps or chicanes, is actually greater than if they were allowed to proceed at a steady 30mph.

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At least Leeds has always recognised that there is a trade-off between increased pollution and whatever other benefits the 20 limit brings.

The reality seems to be that there is now a feeling on the part of those whom we elect to represent us, that people who insist on going on driving (and that’s everybody driving, not just private-car owners) should be bludgeoned into stopping doing so, by fair means or foul.

The speed limit has become a weapon of war, and a blunt one at that. I don’t have a problem with rational decisions, even if I don’t like them.

What I do have a problem with are decisions made despite, rather than because of, the evidence, just because the decision-makers have some sort of fixation. To that extent, I’m entirely with Jayne Dowle.