20 For March is a road safety and improvement campaign to have a 20mph default speed limit across all residential areas in March town.

Why Do We Need 20mph Speed Limits in March Town?

We currently have a serious problem of too much traffic travelling too fast through March which is blighting the lives of local people. Over the past 20 years or so we have seen a massive increase in traffic levels in March. Along with that there has been a reduction in walking and cycling. This in turn has led to higher levels of pollution and an increase in faster and more aggressive driving which makes the roads less hospitable to those on foot or on bike. The end result is even less people walk and cycle, and even more people drive. As a consequence we now have a very serious safety issue for all road users, especially children, the elderly and the most vulnerable.

The Effects of More People Driving

The effects of more people driving for short journeys is clear: it creates more traffic. That traffic in turn creates more emissions and destroys the quality of air. People are deterred from walking and cycling due to the levels of traffic. As a result, fitness levels suffer and respiratory problems increase. This can only have a negative effect on the cost of health services as obesity levels rise, along with illnesses related to obesity and air pollution too. Then there is the road safety aspect, more traffic is less safe for everyone.

So How do we Reverse The Trend?

If we are serious about increasing levels of walking and cycling, we also need to consider making driving for short journeys a bit less convenient too. It is only then that people will make the choice to walk or cycle instead of taking the car. There are various way of achieving this such as closing through roads for motor traffic, removing the available parking or increasing the cost of driving. All of these methods can work but they impact heavily on those who rely on driving. We can keep building cycle paths, but unless it becomes more convenient to walk or cycle, as well as safer and more pleasant to use the roads on foot or by bike, then little difference will be made.

Lowering Traffic Speeds is a Better Option

If we were to lower the prevailing traffic speeds to make the roads more hospitable to those walking and cycling, this in turn would make walking and cycling more appealing and feel more safe. The cheapest and simplest way of reducing prevailing traffic speeds is to reduce the legal speed limit. Drivers will generally observe limits and it will create safer roads for those inside cars too.

But Would it Make any Difference?

A posted 20mph sign clearly indicates the safest maximum speed to be expected by the community. Drivers may not always adhere to speed limits entirely, but a reduced speed limit will cause many drivers to behave more cautiously. We recognise that it may not affect those who ignore speed limits completely, but that is not our aim. Those who drive with little regards for the law are a matter for the police and the courts.

Cost

As with all projects there is a financial cost associated with it. However the cost of implementing a reduction in speed limits is negligible compared to the costs of installing yet more pedestrian crossings, footpaths, cycle paths, chicanes, speed humps and other physical engineering features, which only have an impact on safety at those places where they exist.

Success in Other Areas

There are currently over 300 campaigns for 20mph limits under the banner ’20’s Plenty’ led by Founder Rod King MBE. We already have extensive 20mph limits in Cambridge, Kings Lynn, Fakenham and on main through routes such as the A149 in Norfolk

Support and Objections

There are a wide range of benefits to the local community for having a default 20mph speed limit in residential areas. Our own doorstep campaigning shows that around 80% of residents want 20mph speed limits where they live. Over the past few years of researching this issue, I have yet to find a valid argument which stands up to scrutiny against reducing the default 30mph limit to 20mph. But there needs to be public debate to enable people to air their views so that we, as a community, can come to a conclusion on whether 20mph is the right thing for our town.

Andrew Crawford – Campaign Leader