Thursday, 26 July 2012

If Bristol can do it, so can we

Bristol City Council have confirmed that they will be rolling out a programme of 20mph zones across the city.

According to the BBC:

The Liberal Democrat-run council said about 89% of those surveyed in pilot areas approved of 20mph zones. The council said the speed limit would make the roads less dangerous and encourage walking and cycling.
The estimated cost of city-wide rollout is £2.3m and will be funded by local transport budgets.
Other cities, including Liverpool and the university cities of Oxford and Cambridge, the current UK leaders in terms of cycling participation, have also already committed to this limit. In Amsterdam, where the standard speed limit is 20 kmh (about 12mph), there is little other major cycling infrastructure on many streets, as it is not needed.

Well, I have one simple message to the powers that be in Coventry - if they can do it, so can we! Stop tinkering around with un-proven and half-baked junction modifications, stop removing cycle lanes and parking in the city centre and do something that can be applied across the whole city at a very low cost.

Of course, some key arterial roads should have higher limits, and this is why a trunk network of 12 designated radial routes is still needed. Using the Dutch city of Groningen as the best case scenario, you can still have an extensive city wide cycle network which is used for the majority of all trips, whilst also having an efficient network of trunk roads, which Coventry is already well known for. With good design, there is room for both.

Right now, after signage, designation of lower speed limits is one of the best options available in terms of return on investment.

The council has already committed (with central government help) to just under £6m worth of cycling infrastructure between the centre and Warwick University / Canley. So what can they do to make sure the rest of the city isn't left out?
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  1. The first thing to do would be to designate a network of key routes, using what we already have, and to ensure that signage makes them easy to follow. The bike wheel as suggested in the Manifietso is a suggestion for how this might be done, but the key thing is to do it.
  2. The next thing would be to roll out 20 mph zones across the city - no need for pilots, this strategy is proven else where. If Bristol, with a population of 430,000, can do this for £2.3m, then a city like Coventry, which already has several 20 mph zones anyway, should be able to do this for less than that - £1.5m might be a pro-rata figure, but £2m should do it comfortably.
Now the figure of £2m brings me on to my next pet rant, the Godiva "Awakes" project, which is also costing £2m. There has been a lot of talk in London about having a lasting Olympic legacy. So far, all I have seen in Coventry where Olympic money is concerned is lanes and parking removed. I'm not sure that Lady Godiva, known for protesting against high taxes imposed for horse riders, would approve of the money being spent in her name, but that is one for another post. Even if the new Broadgate does look a lot better, there are still some gremlins in Coventry City Council who are sending out the message that they don't like us very much.

Fortunately, a measure like 20 mph speed limits should be hugely popular with parents, whether their kids ride bikes or not, as long as it is done right. Go after pleasing them first, and hopefully those of us who are merely cyclists and not parents can be pleased as a by-product!

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