Speed limits and accident levels in York

The media are today reporting a move to extend the use of 20 mph speed limits in the City. In reality most residential roads already have such a limit. Some, including the 20 mph limit in The Groves part of the Guildhall ward, were introduced about 20 years ago.  

Most were introduced 5 years ago at a cost of £600,000. Their supporters claimed that this would result in a reduction in accident levels.

In reality the numbers killed or seriously injured on our roads has remained stable at about 60 per year.

Most of the accidents occur outside residential areas with many on roads with 60 or 70m mph limits. A lot of information is shared on the Councils “open data” pages. This includes the background to each accident and details the type of vehicles involved, driver characteristics etc.

Paradoxically, average speeds on some roads actually increased after 20 mph limits were introduced. The road covered by 20 mph limits can be downloaded from the Councils web site click

So should we be worried about accident levels in the City?

One of the disappointments of recent years has been the lack of attention given by Executive Councillors to road safety strategy. Too often reports have been tabled along with other issues which have restricted the time given to analysing trends.

 The York Councils famously limp “scrutiny” process barely touches on the subject of road safety.

Unless local leaders engage more positively in addressing issues then we can expect 60 people to be seriously injured on our roads each year for the foreseeable future.

….and changes to speed limits? Technology change means that it will be possible to automatically govern vehicle speeds shortly.  This would allow speed limits to be varied to meet prevailing road conditions.

If speed is an issue in causing accidents (it isn’t in most cases) then technology might provide a new solution.

Speed checks – none done, some planned

The last Council meeting heard confirmation that no vehicle speed checks had been completed in west York since 20 mph signs started to be put up 12 months ago.

Elsewhere checks in the Bishopthorpe Road area have revealed that average vehicle speeds have not changed since the controversial £600,000 programme was introduced there.

In the West York area several examples of unlawful signs have been reported by residents.

Green Lane speed signs 2In Green Lane the speed limit signs indicate different speed limits on each side of the road.

There have been no prosecutions in York for vehicles exceeding the 20 mph limit.

The new Council is expected to abandon wide area 20 mph limits.

Spending taxpayer’s resources on removing the sign though might be considered to be a case of throwing good money after bad.

However if – as has happened elsewhere – accident rates increase in the 20 mph areas then removal may have to be considered.

20 mph speed limit agreed for north York

Behind closed doors logo

In another behind closed doors decision, the Council has agreed to introduce a wide area 20 mph speed limit across north York (Clifton/Rawcliffe/Huntington area)

Several formal objections were raised to the traffic orders. All were ignored.

Residents are becoming resigned to these limits being imposed but will expect them to be removed next year when a new Council takes over.

In other similar City’s the introduction of wide area 20 mph speed limits has coincided with an increase in the number of serious traffic accidents.

Just a shame that £600,000 of taxpayer’s money is being wasted.

Four local Councillors objected to the proposal (3 LibDem and 1 Tory)

Merrett tried to fix 20 mph publicity – private Emails published

Minster FM have published details of private Emails exchanged by Labour Councillors over plans to introduce 20 mph speed limits across York.

In the Emails he tries to inflame opinion by calling for letters to be sent to the local paper – and to be posted on its web site – labelling opposition Councillors as “Ludites”.

It appears that the Emails were sent using Council facilities which breaches regulations forbidding the use of equipment, paid for by taxpayers, for political purposes.

The Emails reveal that the main road trial 20 mph limits have been ineffective, that accident levels in other City’s which introduced wide area 20 mph levels have increased and that there is a lot of opposition to the idea in York.

In releasing, pre publication, officer reports to Cllr Semleyn – a paid 20’s plenty organiser – he urges her to mobilise support.

The revelations are bound to increase pressure on Cllr Merrett to resign from his Cabinet post.

20 mph speed limits – something else to challenge?

20 mph sign installed within 5 metres of a sharp right bend.

20 mph sign installed within 5 metres of a sharp right bend.

Despite massive opposition from residents, and most available evidence suggesting that wide area 20 mph speed limits have little positive effect on driver behaviour, the Council are to extend the limit into north York.

Cllr Merrett at the last Council meeting refused to delay the roll out of wide area 20 mph speed limits into East and North York.

This phase of the scheme will cost taxpayers over £300,000.

He had been asked to undertake a review of the effectiveness of the restrictions imposed on west York before wasting any more money.

He did say that he did not agree with Cllr Semlyen’s “zero consultation” approach. Not that Labour pays any attention to the results of consultation anyway.

He also said that, if the wide area 20 mph limits are scrapped after the next local elections, most of the £600,000 cost will go down the drain. “The capital funding has mostly been spent on various unrecoverable items such as labour costs, project management, plant equipment and hire, engineering fees, printing and distribution of materials etc.  The poles and 20mph signs used would have some modest resale value.”

Post 20 mph speed limit Bristol residents views click to enlarge

Post 20 mph speed limit Bristol residents views click to enlarge

If the new Council finds that – as has happened elsewhere – accident levels increase then they will have no option but to withdraw the scheme.

The statutory advertisement of the 20mph Speed Limit Orders for north York will take place this month, with notices being posted on affected streets.

These statutory notices will advise which streets are proposed to have new 20mph Speed Limit Orders made for them.  This is a formal legal process for any change of speed limit and is required prior to implementation and erection of signs.

As with any other Traffic Regulation Order, there is the opportunity during the statutory 28-day notice period for official representations or objections to be made if there are any specific issues which it is considered should amend or stop the Order from being made.

More detailed information can be found at www.york.gov.uk/20mph

The Liberal Democrat view is that the most appropriate speed limit should apply to a road taking into account its characteristics and accident record.

If the party resumes its leadership of the Council following the 2015 local elections, it will give residents the opportunity to give residents the opportunity to decide whether the new ,limits should remain..

Poles cost York Council £238,000. Farage visit expected.

The York Council had a final opportunity at its budget meeting yesterday to put a halt to unnecessary expenditure on new 20 mph signs

Dijon Avenue Green Lane junction small 3

Since Labour took office, they have introduced 20 mph speed limit signs on an additional 11 miles of roads in South Bank and another 44 miles in west York.

947, 20 mph signs, have so far been installed with a further 1752 still to be put up – mainly in east York

Where the roads revert to a 30 mph limit, new signs  have also to be installed.

So far 280 additional 30 mph signs have been installed with a further 587 still to be fitted.

So far the Council has spent over £52,000 on signs, paid out £40,000 in fixing costs with management costs accounting for a whopping £120,000 (planning, project management, professional fees).

Adding in miscellaneous expenditure, the total comes to £238,000.

A further £350,000 has yet to be committed to the programme which will roll out next in east York.

It is that money that the Council could and should, have saved at its budget meeting yesterday. Unfortunately it appears that the option slipped by.

The programme should have been suspended for at least a year to allow the effects, that the new limits so far introduced have had, to be assessed.

In other parts of the country the introduction of 20 mph limits has coincided with an increase in accident levels.

NB Last week a Labour Councillor said that people shouldn’t be consulted on the introduction of 20 mph speed limits.

Anger grows over 20 mph speed limits

Dringhouses Labour Councillor opposes consultation with residents.

Dijon Avenue Green Lane junction small 3

A Labour Councillor has claimed in the media that residents should not be consulted over wide area 20 mph speed limits. She says that most are in favour of the scheme.

The claim comes at a time when some residents are reacting angrily to having expensive signs erected on short cul de sacs where it is impossible to accelerate to even 15 mph.

In some areas, signs have already been vandalised.

The Councillors comment can only inflame public opinion and fails to acknowledge that, in some areas where the new limits have been imposed, the number of accidents recorded has actually increased.

The new Council, which will be elected in 2015, will have the unenviable job of deciding whether to throw good money after bad and have the signs removed.

Common sense says that the programme should be suspended. This would potentially save around £200,000 – money which could be spent on targeted accident prevention work.

The results of the new limits, already rolled out in west York, could then be assessed before the policy is thoroughly reviewed.

NB. In a poll of all residents living in the Westfield and Dringhouses wards, only 5% of respondents say that they favour a “wide area” 20 mph speed limit.

The madness of the York Council

Street name plates neglected click to enlarge

Street name plates neglected click to enlarge

Ascot Way in Acomb demonstrates just how mixed up the York Council’s priorities have become.

20 mph sign installed within 5 metres of a sharp right bend.

20 mph sign installed within 5 metres of a sharp right bend.

School sign rusting away

School sign rusting away

Over £600,000 is being spent on installing 20 mph speed limit signs.

These include some in areas which are already protected by speed cushions (which make excessive speeds pretty much impractical).

Others have been installed at locations where it is impossible to exceed 20 mph anyway including short cul de sacs and near a sharp right hand bend (see photo).

Meanwhile other public services are being starved of investment. Street name plates are becoming illegible while other signs are simply rusting away.

Ironically the maintenance of speed cushions has been abandoned making them potential death traps for cyclists and a likely source of tyre and chassis damage for motorists.

Damaged speed humps. Already dangerous for cyclists.

Damaged speed humps. Already dangerous for cyclists.

Updated public opinion survey results – Lendal Bridge closure, traffic congestion, 20 mph speed limits

These are the public opinion survey results for West York updated as at 20th December 2013.

Traffic   congestion getting worse? Agree 91%
Disagree 2%
Unde 7%
Lendal   Bridge closure a success Agree 7%
Disagree 80%
Unde 13%
Lendal   bridge – lift access restrictions Agree 87%
Disagree 5%
Unde 8%
No   justification for building in Green Belt Agree 90%
Disagree 3%
Unde 7%
Public   service standards are deteriorating Agree 89%
Disagree 2%
Unde 9%
I am opposed to city wide 20 mph speed limit Agree 81%
Disagree 7%
Unde 12%

The Council is also conducting an “on line” poll on the Lendal Bridge “trial”

It can be accessed by clicking here.

90% say “lift Lendal Bridge access restrictions”

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

An overwhelming majority of residents have given the thumbs down to the current closure restrictions on Lendal Bridge.

Responding to a survey carried out by the Liberal Democrats, in the Dringhouses, Woodthorpe and Hob Moor areas, only 8% have said that the trial is a success.

90% want the restrictions to be removed.

A massive 95% say that traffic congestion in the City has got worse over recent months.

Stand and deliver  Labour adopt traditional approach to transport funding in York

Stand and deliver
Labour adopt traditional approach to transport funding in York

The results underpin the findings from other sources.

Over 35,000 penalty notices have been issued since the Lendal Bridge and Coppergate ANPR cameras were installed.

The influential “Trip Advisor” web site has logged a large number of complaints from visitors who are vowing never to visit the City again.

A Facebook page has also been set up by opponents of the restrictions.

The Council leadership continue to maintain an air of lofty indifference to resident’s views prompting new calls for a referendum on the future of the restrictions.

An opportunity to test resident’s views, at a reasonable cost, will come on 22nd May when European Parliament elections are already scheduled to take place.

By then, however, some traders may have been forced to close as City centre shopper numbers continue to fall.


There is no consolation for the Council’s Leadership from residents other responses to the survey.

88% say there is no justification for Labours plans to build on the Green Belt, while 80% remain opposed to a wide area 20 mph speed limit.

Most damming verdict comes from the 93% who believe that public service standards have got worse since Labour took office.

No one who has responded so far believes that standards have got better.