Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by The Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign (RTS 28)

NATURE AND EFFECTS OF ILLEGAL AND INAPPROPRIATE TRAFFIC SPEED IN THE UK

  You have asked for views and experiences on illegal speed limits. The important issues to be raised in relation to controlling speed on the roads are:

  1.  social inclusion,

  2.  health and safety,

  3.  enforcement.

1.  SOCIAL INCLUSION

  Old people, children and cyclists are severely discouraged from using the roads by aggressive, speeding motorists. Studies have shown that about 93 per cent of motorists ignore 30mph limits.

  Speeding affects communities: motorists speeding through residential "rat runs" means that children are afraid to play on the streets outside their house. Speeding can also prevent children having a "safe route to school" on foot. If the family has a car, this situation produces another reason for a car journey during rush hour which could be avoided. Additionally, congestion outside schools caused by the "school run" endangers other pedestrians and cyclists on the road.

  Speeding cars give elderly people another reason to feel alienated from their community. They feel increasingly vulnerable and fearful going about their own business in their community.

  Cyclists are also vulnerable to speeding cars which can be terrifying. Whilst the roads are difficult for an experienced cyclist, the perception for the would-be-cyclist and their family is that the roads are a dangerous place and that cycling is not an option. For those who do not own a car, or for whom the public transport network is not an option (eg. rural workers, shift workers in hospitals), a journey by bike is the only option. Until speeding is tackled, we will not see an increase in cycling and a reduction of cars on the road.

  There is a culture of speeding in Britain, which puts the motorist's "needs" before those of the rest of the population. When these needs are analysed, basically they come down to the motorist's need to get to the red light first; there is often no time saving involved.

2.  HEALTH AND SAFETY

  The benefits of cycling and walking go beyond the reduction in cardio-vascular diseases. They actually improve workers' performance. In addition, regular exercise protects against cancer and depression, and simply makes peoples' lives more enjoyable. Large numbers of people would benefit from using a bicycle to commute to work, instead of the car. Even walking to the bus stop would be better than the daily frustration of sitting in queues of cars. If lower speed limits were introduced and enforced, many more people would feel that cycling was a real alternative.

  Apart from less people using cars for short journeys, lower speeds also means less fuel consumption, resulting in an overall reduction in airborne pollution, which could help reduce the incidence of respiratory diseases, and make our cities a more pleasant place to be.

  There are also the obvious benefits of collision reduction and the concomitant reduction in deaths and serious injuries, with their knock-on effects of trauma for the victims and their families, and costs to the Health system.

3.  ENFORCEMENT

  There will be no reduction in peoples' desire to go fast unless the issue of enforcement is firmly grasped. This means that Police forces must be made aware that speed reduction is a priority.

  The cost of speeding must be seen as both fiscal and social. The costs to the Health service of our national love affair with the motor car, in terms of both death and injury, and also poor health, are vitiated by the wider social costs outlined above.

  We hope that these viewpoints will be included in your report to the government and would be interested to see what recommendations come out of the report.

Kate Parsons

Secretary, Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign

7 January 2001



 
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