Opinion: Traffic calming plan must be expanded

Cllr Sian Berry wants the traffic calming plan expanded.

Cllr Sian Berry wants the traffic calming plan expanded. - Credit: Archant

Action on road danger from high speeds is due for a boost as Transport for London (TfL) started consultation last week on giving a number of roads they manage in central London a new lower speed limit of 20 mph.

This is long overdue - the speed cuts originally formed part of the Mayor of London's Vision Zero Action Plan published in July 2018 - but the proposals are sorely limited, and they will leave people from Zone 2 to outer London still exposed to TfL's hostile streets for several years.

Central London has the highest concentration of pedestrians and cyclists, and the highest potential for crashes and injuries due to fast-moving traffic.

The consequences of higher speeds are deadly: a person hit at 30 mph is five times more likely to die than someone hit at 20 mph. But, by restricting the proposals to such a small area, several streets in Camden with fast-moving traffic are being left out, exposing our residents to continued danger.

While this first phase of lower speed limits will come in next year if approved in the current consultation, which closes on July 10, a second phase of new 20 mph streets outside the congestion charging zone is not expected to be brought forward until as late as 2024. This will leave 30 mph roads like Camden Road, Euston Road and Finchley Road, running past shops, stations and schools still suffering from speeding traffic for far too long. A road is classed by TfL as a "high risk road danger issue" if more than 15 per cent of vehicles on a given street drive faster than 30 mph.

Three years ago, I stood for Mayor of London on a manifesto that promised to introduce a default 20 mph speed limit on red routes (the roads directly controlled by TfL rather than boroughs), including all of these that are streets where people live, work and shop. This approach would be much simpler than the mayor's piecemeal and slow action on this major contributor to road danger.

Last year after the publication of the Vision Zero plans, my colleague on the London Assembly, Caroline Russell, and I proposed a motion to back 20 mph for all red routes that have a pavement. It didn't pass in the assembly because Labour refused to back it, but would have been a comprehensive and rational way to protect all Londoners from danger where they spend time on foot around busy traffic.

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So, while central Londoners will breathe a sigh of relief when traffic will no longer be allowed to speed through their main roads from 2020, I hope Camden residents will respond to the consultation urging the mayor to spread his traffic calming plan to all of London.

The mayor must be bolder with our safety, and our residents shouldn't feel too scared to walk to the shops or to school, or to pop over the road to visit a friend, because they're intimidated by speeding cars and lorries.