Duncan Barkes: Any evidence for 20mph limits?

IT can be dangerous to question those who believe that a 20mph limit on residential streets is the way forward, but recent comments from the RAC motoring organisation cannot be ignored.

I am sure those behind the various ‘20’s Plenty’ campaigns across the area are quite cuddly, but you offer an alternative viewpoint at your peril.

Their usual knee-jerk reaction is to accuse critics of wanting to see innocent young children mown down by irresponsible drivers. I experienced this personally – remarks of this nature were made to me when I refused to sign a petition for the campaign a few years ago, in Chichester. I sign petitions or form a view based on hard evidence rather than emotional blackmail.

The Chichester campaign seemed void of facts but full of rhetoric. As the campaign gains momentum in Worthing (with a consultation on a 20mph limit on residential roads expected later this year), residents will be subjected to information presented as fact, but with little subjectivity. Which is why the comments from the RAC make interesting reading.

They refer to the scheme in Portsmouth – the city council was the first local authority in the country to implement such a limit. The RAC believes more evidence is needed before the reduced speed limit is judged a success. The scheme was first implemented five years ago, but the RAC says the jury is still out as to whether it has actually cut the number of road accidents, and also claims the scheme could harm businesses.

It argues the lower limit would slow down drivers making deliveries and push up the cost of delivering goods. It is only fair to point out that Portsmouth City Council believe the limits have been successful.

But, after five years, wouldn’t you expect some conclusive proof that these reduced limits are valid?

If a respected motoring organisation like the RAC is not convinced, then it should be noted. I believe the existing 20mph limit around schools is more than adequate. In my opinion the 20’s Plenty mob are not just about road safety. They also seem to have an environmental agenda that is anti-car. They are more concerned about getting people to make greener choices. Masquerading as a safety campaign is disingenuous.

• Agree or disagree with Duncan? Email your views to letters@worthingherald.co.uk, letters@shorehamherald.co.uk or letters@littlehamptongazette.co.uk