Flintshire Schools: 20mph speed limits or 20mph zones? actually neither.
The first phase of Flintshire County Council’s (FCC) 20 mph ‘speed advisory sign’ project has been completed.
The initiative has seen 20mph advisory signs erected on stretches of road outside 40 of the 83 schools in Flintshire.
For the first time in town hall ‘dispatches’ we are seeing the correct terminology used to describe the output of this initiative.
Previous Council press releases refer to the project creating 20mph speed limits and 20mph zones outside schools, we did send correspondence to the Council to gain clarity on the proposal and see if indeed speed limits were to be changed, we didn’t hear anything in return.
From an accuracy perspective, neither 20mph speed limits and 20mph zones are correct terms to describe the work being carried out by FCC
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) defines the following:
20mph zones, are designed to be “self-enforcing” they include a reduction in the speed limit alongside traffic calming measures such as speed humps, chicanes, road narrowing, planting, and other measures are typically used to both physically and visually reinforce the fact it is a 20mph zone, its a more proactive approach as it aims to force a change in a cars speed.
20mph limits consist of just a speed limit change with no physical measures other than signage to reduce vehicle speeds within designated stretches of road, 20mph speed limit repeater signs are generally deployed, a 20mph limit relies on drivers to adhere to the signs and psychology plays a large part, critics argue that 20mph are hard to enforce as they tend to be short stretched of road and create a greater challenge for Police to catch speeding motorists.
What we have here in Flintshire are rather odd signs advising motorists to travel at 20mph, from our research they seem to be quite unique and non standard, they have red ’20 mph’ numerals within a black circle on a yellow background, trawling through the UK Government ‘Traffic Signs Manual‘ there is no reference to this type or style of signage, they could be designed to play on the ‘psyche’ of those driving past, quite clever!
We asked Edwina Hart Minister for Economy, Science and Transport for a view on the signage, she said:
“FCC requested to use advisory signs with red numerals and a black border outside approximately 40 schools in their area.
The advisory signs have to be distinguishable from mandatory speed limit signs and we have provided FCC with a temporary authorisation for a 12 month trial period for use of the advisory 20mph sign.
During the trial the signs will be monitored and any complaints recorded.
The evidence collected during the trail will be used to determine whether the signs should remain.”
One thing is clear, any measure that protects our children on their journeys to and from school is more than welcome, however there has been element of mis- information being presented by the Council around this initiative, something which again is highlighted in the latest comment from Deputy Leader of Flintshire County Council, Councillor Bernie Attridge, he says:
“I am so pleased to announce that we have finished the first step in the scheme and that we are on track have the 20mph speed limit signs outside every school by October.
“Delivering 20mph zones outside of the County’s schools has been a priority for this administration and once installed the new arrangements will help improve road safety by making drivers more aware of the school location which will help ensure they reduce their speed accordingly. Clearly speed is a key factor in road safety and this is a major step forward in protecting the safety of our children.”
The references to speed limits and zones by the Councillor are factually incorrect.
In a previous press release by the Council on 13th September 2013 they said:
“A speed limit of 20mph is being introduced outside every school in Flintshire.” (press release: Flintshire Council to implement 20mph zones outside All schools.)
Again, factually incorrect!
Safety of children is of course paramount and a highly emotive subject, so for our Labour Councillors to be associated with such a positive initiative within the community is indeed fantastic PR, something not lost on local assembly member Carl Sargeant, he said back in 2013:
“This is fantastic news for Flintshire and I am pleased Labour leaders are making sure the project gets underway swiftly” the Labour reference is largely irrelevant.
Most of the previous FCC press releases have the line ‘its a priority for this administration’ shoe horned in, it probably is, but is it relative?
The Council have committed £50,000 to this project, a big deal worth shouting about but, was it the Council’s £50,000 or the Welsh Governments? last year the Welsh Government gave Welsh Councils £11.5million in funding to introduce 20mph ‘zones’ – you would assume the money spent in Flintshire came from this pot.
So, if these advisory signs work then all the above is largely irrelevant, job done, box ticked.
It is proven that a speed reduction to 20mph saves lives, in Wales in 2013 there were no fatalities involving children in 20mph zones.
Interestingly though, the greatest number of children injured by vehicles doesn’t happen near schools or on school journeys.
There is an absolute case for 20mph speed limits/zones around schools, however with 75% of child pedestrians injured when not near a schools this would suggest our local ‘decision makers’ are perhaps not focusing on the core area’s where children are being hurt.
Dare we say it? they are looking at the schools solution with at least one eye on political points scoring, certainly parents with kids at school will see those implementing the 20mph program in a very favourable light.
Two hundred and seventy seven children were injured on Welsh roads in 2013, sixty two were deemed to be on school related journey’s.
Of the two hundred and seventy seven children who were injured, two hundred and fifty seven were hurt in 30mph speed limit areas, statistically the greatest risk children face isn’t near fast open roads, or indeed near schools, it is on the narrow streets that wind through the estates in ares’s like Deeside, ones where poor driving standards are the ‘norm’, double parking, parking on pavements and speeding is rife, yet there is very little or no enforcement in these areas,
Blanket 20mph speed limits in these danger zones would after all, be very unpopular with the ‘electorate’
Flintshire has also seen a 44% increase since 2014 in cyclists being injured in 30mph area’s.
What is needed around Deeside is a broader look at speed limits and enforcement, if child safety really is the priority of the Council then more needs to be done to protect children in the area’s they are statistically much more likely to be killed or injured.
According to the ‘20 is plenty‘ campaign group, nearly 13m people live in local authorities which are adopting or have adopted the ’20 is plenty policy’.
Most importantly, through democratic debate those communities have decided that “20’s Plenty Where People Live”.
And it is those same communities who have then changed their behaviour to drive slower in residential streets and where people walk and cycle.
New signs asking people to drive at 20mph are great, but simply not enough to keep children safe.