Private Members Bill
Conall will be introducing a bill on the floor of the Assembly in coming weeks which will seek to reduce the speed on urban residential roads from 30mph to 20mph.
Purpose of Bill
The Member seeks to introduce a piece of legislation which will reduce the 30mph speed limit to 20mph in urban residential areas. The aim of the legislation is to increase road safety for drivers, pedestrians and other road users.
Case for Change
The motivation for the bill originated from regular requests to the Constituency Office relating to traffic calming and the danger of "rat-runs," which is commonly understood to be the practice of driving through residential side streets to avoid congested main roads.
The Member amassed a body of research which documented the successes of 20mph limits in other jurisdictions to further develop the case for the PMB, with the key message that reducing the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph reduced the chances of being killed if struck by a car travelling at these speeds from 1 in 5 to 1 in 40 respectively.
The challenge to the proposal related to whether the legislation should be implemented via the allocation of "zones" as has been successfully evidenced in several parts of England, or whether to seek to change the speed limit of a particular classification of road, thus enacting systemic change.
For the reasons outlined above, the Member decided to consult the community on the possibility of reduced speed limits in residential streets, using a sample of 1500 homes in the area. The response rate was very positive, with approximately 96% of those surveyed expressing their support for changing the legislation, which was echoed by the majority of stakeholders who were engaged on the matter.
The proposal was put out for public consultation from May to July 2012 and received 41 responses, of which almost all respondents were supportive of the Bill.
Many respondents believed that a slower speed limit on some roads would increase the number of other road users, such as cycling and pedestrians, thus suggesting potential benefits to public health. A majority of respondents stated that they believed that the proposal should apply only to residential roads.
Some respondents noted that a systemic approach to changing speed limits may adversely impact rural communities, however upon further research of this we are confident that this would not be the case as most towns and village will have a classified road running through and/or across the centre, with only housing estates falling under the "U" Class of road, which is one of the intended areas for legislative change, and which was supported by consultation responses.
The key issues arising from the consultation approach were in relation to where the speed limit should be implemented, and how it should be implemented.
- To reduce the number of accidents and fatalities on our roads and create a safer environment.
- To change the use of our streets and make them more pedestrian and cycle friendly.
- To reduce emissions by encouraging more consistent and slower speeds, or indeed by encouraging people to use other methods of transport such as cycling or walking.
- To reduce the speed limit on roads in 30mph zones ("restricted roads") to 20mph where the road is unclassified ("U" class roads), i.e. minor/residential roads.
- There would be some exceptions which would have to be included in a schedule; for example, Botanic Avenue has been identified as a restricted unclassified road; however it would not need to come under the proposed legislation.
- The Member is happy to include an extended commencement date to allow sufficient time for the Department to implement the legislative change.