20’s Plenty for Somerset: lower the speed limit NOW!

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We've all enjoyed quieter roads over the last few months. While we can't stop cars returning we can make the roads safer for other road users.

The 20's Plenty Campaign is demanding a default 20mph limit on all residential and shopping  streets in Somerset's towns and villages. Such a limit would save lives, enable more and safer cycling and walking, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, reduce pressure on the NHS and increase equality and social cohesion. 

The County Council could act swiftly on this demand by creating an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order which lasts for up to 18 months ( there can be public feedback and amendments during the 18 month period). A signed, mandatory 20mph limit can be enforced by Avon and Somerset police, backed up by education/awareness and social media campaigns with local authorities and community speed watch groups doing their bit. 

Why ? Be in no doubt, we are in an Emergency.

We are in a Health Emergency. 

As the NHS readies itself for a potential 'second wave' while continuing to treat and care for those with Covid-19 now, we should be looking to reduce demand for NHS acute services through the rapid introduction of public health policies. In 2018, there were 1,373 recorded casualties resulting from collisions on the roads of Somerset. Evidence from Bristol's introduction of city wide 20mph speed limits found that it led to a city-level reduction of fatal injuries of around 63% . Leading medics and public health experts are calling for urgent reduction of the speed limit in urban areas to 20mph to reduce pressure on the NHS now and in the future. https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2020/03/24/can-we-improve-the-nhss-ability-to-tackle-covid-19-through-emergency-public-health-interventions/

We are in a Climate Emergency.

With 5-10 years in which to achieve carbon neutrality or face climate breakdown, lockdown provided only a brief respite. Greenhouse gas emissions have rebounded as lockdown conditions have eased raising fears that annual GHG emissions could surge to higher than ever levels unless we take swift action.  Driving at 20 mph means fewer GHG emissions and reduced air pollution - did you know that 250 people in Somerset die early as a result of air pollution? A 20mph limit is not the only way we can reduce our dependence on cars and improve our air quality, but it's probably one of the quickest and cheapest.

We are in a Social Emergency.

As residents of Somerset emerge from 'lockdown' we are expected to maintain social distancing on often narrow pavements next to speeding traffic . With public transport operating at greatly reduced capacity we are expected to embrace active travel by walking and cycling with little in place to make it safer for us to do so. Without urgent action on the speed limit, we risk compounding the inequality, fear and danger so many disabled people, older people, children and people with buggies already face on our streets. 

At the moment the default speed limit throughout Somerset for streets where people live is 30mph with only advisory '20mph while the lights are flashing' measures promised in future for small areas at school entrances. This is just not good enough as children walking or cycling need protection over their whole journey to and from school.  Some local communities have battled hard and successfully for sections of their community to be treated as 'exceptions' and have 20mph limits. Again this is not good enough. County has a responsibility to step up and proactively address its public health, equality, active travel and climate change mitigation responsibilities. 

Let's show key decision makers in County Hall that residents of Somerset are ready for real change NOW. 

For more information about the benefits of a default 20mph limit for residential streets visit www.20splenty.org

To take more action as an individual to deliver 20mph in Somerset - or to connect with the growing coalition of campaign groups supporting this initiative  including Taunton Area Cycling Campaign and Transition Town Wellington - email somerset@20splentyforus.org.uk and visit our Facebook page ‘20’s Plenty for Somerset’.