'We urgently need 20mph limits on all our roads'

A general view of a 20mph speed limit sign. Wide-ranging proposals to dramatically cut the number of

Cllr Cawley-Harrison asked for Haringey roads to be reduced to 20mph back in 2020 - Credit: PA

Last week, Haringey adopted a new Road Danger Reduction Action Plan (RDRAP), setting out Haringey’s response to the Mayor of London’s ‘Vision Zero for London’, the goal of which is that, by 2041, all deaths and serious injuries will be eliminated from London's transport network. With an average of 845 casualties a year on Haringey’s roads from 2017-20, such action plans are critical if road danger is going to be reduced across the borough. 

In 2020 I wrote to the then cabinet member for the environment, Cllr Kirsten Hearn, requesting that all remaining Haringey roads under the borough’s control currently above a 20mph limit are brought down to align with the vast majority of roads in the borough.

The response I received was that these roads were "excluded from the limit because the nature and environment of these roads was not suitable for the lower limit". These roads are not main roads, as the response may suggest, but residential roads such as Fortis Green, Priory Road and Westbury Avenue.

Cllr Luke Cawley-Harrison is concerned about residents' mental health during lockdown.

Luke Cawley-Harrison has been campaigning for reductions in speed limits since 2020 - Credit: Archant

TfL recently announced it will be reducing the limit on some TfL roads within Haringey this spring, so it is welcome to see Haringey Council also finally committing to reviewing its own 30mph roads as part of this new RDRAP. But this review should have happened years ago, and even with this new commitment, will not happen fast enough. The council’s review of these roads is planned to take 12-24 months, and that's without a timeframe for actual changes to take place. It is not good enough, and risks putting more lives in danger in those years.

But speed limits are only useful if they are adhered to by road users, and when they aren’t, are properly enforced. In London, the enforcement of speeding still resides with the police, despite the government extending these powers to councils outside of London. This has to change so that local authorities in London can not only enforce the speed limits on their own roads, but also retain the income from speeding tickets to invest in further road safety measures (current speeding income goes to the treasury).

Whilst it is important all responsible authorities aim for the ambitious, but achievable "Vision Zero for London" by 2041, the target year should not just be considered some distant end point. The more we do with real urgency right now, the more lives we will save, and serious injuries we will prevent, this year and every year between now and 2041.

Cllr Luke  Cawley-Harrison is the Liberal Democrat opposition leader on Haringey Council.