Call to protect communities with 20mph limits
9:38am Friday 8th February 2013 in News
More 20mph zones should be introduced in built-up areas of Ceredigion to protect children and improve community life, says Joyce Watson AM.
The Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales led a debate in the Senedd on Wednesday, calling for more 20mph zones in Welsh towns and villages. She also argued that councils should introduce 20mph restrictions outside every school.
Figures obtained by Mrs Watson reveal that only six schools in Ceredigion are in a 20mph limit (or where 20mph is advised at peak times).
Meanwhile, 40 schools are in a 30mph limit, six schools are in 40mph and five schools are on national speed limit roads.
Mrs Watson said: “We know from safety campaigns and TV adverts what a vital difference a reduction from 30mph to 20 mph makes – a person hit by a car travelling at 20 mph has around a 95% chance of survival. That falls to 80% at 30 mph, 50% at 35mph and just 10% at 40mph.
“A lot is made of ‘health and safety’ culture these days. But most of us live in communities where we are squeezed on to pavements, literally inches away from fast moving cars, buses and lorries – it is crazy when you stop to think about it. We have come to accept the car’s dominance of our public spaces as entirely normal. We have to challenge that.”
In 2011 there were 24 pedestrian deaths and 237 serious pedestrian casualties in Wales, including 82 children who were killed or seriously injured– an increase of 15 per cent from the previous year.
The Welsh Government provides funding to local authorities to introduce 20mph zones, but does not have powers to change speed limits. Councils received £11.5m this year to introduce more 20mph zones.
Mrs Watson continued: “20mph doesn’t just make communities safer; it makes them better too. Places that have introduced 20mph zones have reported higher levels of social interaction. That means more people out and about talking to each other – cyclists feel safer and parents let their children play out on the streets.
“Fast cars can make popping across the road a dangerous dash. Lorries thundering down high streets make them less safe, less pleasant places to be – 20mph zones can help transform communities from being noisy, polluted places to vibrant, people-centred spaces.”