20mph is one of London Cycling’s six core ‘asks’ from the recent elections. Six things that we believe would make London’s boroughs better places for cycling.
So it’s a shame that the council is so clearly hell bent on doing virtually nothing about it.
If you want to know what an anti-20mph policy looks like, you just need to read the cabinet papers for the meeting this week. You’ll need item 6 here, and the linked PDF. But to save you the effort, here’s how the conversation will likely go with the officers unfortunate enough to have to deal with this:
You “Hello, a lot of people in my road would like it to be 20mph.”
Council “A majority? Like in more than 50% of all households?”
You “Well, a majority of the people I spoke to.”
Council “Look, just because no councillor here has more than about 10% of the people in their area actually vote for them, they still need you to collect a majority of everyone.
“But I’m feeling, nice, so we’ll skip that stage. Did your, haha, majority also understand that 20mph means traffic calming measures, signs, speed humps, etc., will also be needed? Did you know that under council rules, we’re not interested in consultation responses at this stage if you can’t demonstrate you’ve explained just how awful 20mph zones really are? ”
You “Err. No? Department for Transport guidance says you don’t need all that, doesn’t it? I mean, Bristol has a city wide 20mph limit without all that, doesn’t it?”
Council “Does this look like Bristol. If you want 20mph, then the Richmond way is to make it almost impossible, but to over-engineer it if we do go ahead.”
You, some time later “Ok, they’re happy with all that. Can we have 20mph now?”
Council (guffaws) “No, no, not yet! First we’re going to see whether it’ll affect any other roads nearby. If it does we won’t do it. Then we’ll make something up about whether it can be enforced. If it can’t, or we won’t make the effort to, then we won’t do it either.”
“And then, we’ll check if it’s a conservation area, because we wouldn’t want to clutter a conservation area with cars moving through too slowly.”
You “And then we can have 20mph?”
Council “No. Then we’ll do a traffic survey. If average speeds are over 24mph, then we won’t give you a 20mph zone. And if they’re under, we probably won’t either, because people are already going slow enough, innit?”
Council “Oh, and if you’re still giving us grief, we’ll review the accident data for at least three years to decide if we think it’s appropriate.
“After that, we’ll think about whether we can fund it, and since so few people will get to this stage, each one of these will need signing off by the cabinet member. And then we’ll do a full consultation.”
You “But I’ve already got people to agree, haven’t I?”
Council “Ah yes, but we’ll consult over the whole area, and all the streets around will need to approve your 20mph zone. Did we mention that someone who doesn’t respond is a ‘no’?”
You “What about outside all the schools in the borough, then?”
Council “They’ll all have to go through the process above. Although we might be magnanimous and include a random rule about how we can do it if we want, without any consultation at all.”
Footnote: You might think we’ve made this up, but it’s all supported by the papers going to council on the 9th. We don’t think Richmond wants to implement 20mph anywhere, based on those papers. And if they do, they’re going to be sure to do it in the most expensive, un-popular fashion possible. Feel free to check the DfT guidance, and see how much of it has been ignored. (PDF link.)