The full text of the letter, which is self-explanatory, is set out below. Council candidates are free to comment on their position re a default 20mph for all residential streets below this post. There is also a Facebook group for the 20'splenty in Darlington campaign here.
With local elections approaching, politicians and voters alike are looking for policies that make real improvements to the lives of people in the borough of Darlington. You may be aware that in surveys conducted last year over 80% of members of the public were in favour of 20 mph for residential roads. This mirrors the developing view across the country that our current speed limit of 30 mph is just too high in residential areas where it is inevitable that vulnerable road users will be at greatest risk.
In fact, if we compare it with the speed limit in Northern European towns it is 60% higher than the 30 kph (18.5 mph) limits that they have for residential streets. No wonder perhaps that 92% of pedestrian deaths are on urban roads in the UK and at 21% we have a higher proportion of pedestrian deaths on the roads than any of our European neighbours.
In Hilden, Germany, the setting of their 30 kph limit in the early 90's was the foundation of them encouraging cycling and walking. In fact now 23% of in-town trips are now made by children and adults using bikes instead of cars.
You may be wondering about how much this would slow down our car journeys and cause congestion. Well, the campaign is only for residential streets to be changed with most A, B and arterial roads remaining at their current speed limits. As almost every house, office or school is within 1/3 mile of such an arterial road then the maximum increase in journey time would be just 40 seconds. Surely worth the benefit in lives and injuries saved.
You may also be wondering about the cost and inconvenience of all those speed bumps. Well, many authorities are using changed Department of Transport guidance which encourages lower speeds to be set without necessarily involving physical calming. With education, consultation, social pressure and some enforcement, authorities such as Portsmouth have implemented a council wide default 20 mph limit for residential roads without any physical calming at all. While we are on the subject of cost, latest DfT figures (for 2009) show that the cost to Darlington of Road casualties is £16,435,990. Even more alarmingly the DfT estimate that the total cost of sedentary lifestyles to Darlington is an eye-watering £23,752,582 per annum.
Other authorities are taking Portsmouth as an example and Transport for London recently announced the intention for all London Boroughs to adopt 20 mph as the default for residential roads as part of the Breaking Point report. Lewisham, Islington and Southwark have already implemented such a default.
Most significantly City Councillors in Norwich recently unanimously voted to have a default 20 mph in residential roads. Such support from all local political parties shows how 20's Plenty is a universal aspiration for communities, constituents and politicians rather than a party political one.
At the time of writing this letter I have just heard that Warrington Council have voted to increase the number of residential roads that will be protected by a 20 mph zone by 200 and a Hartlepool scrutiny committee has recommended to the council adoption of Total 20 for the town.
And of course 20's Plenty saves lives. A recent PACTS (Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety) identified that child casualties fell by 67% where 20 mph schemes were introduced. I do hope that Darlington people can rely upon you to follow through this excellent policy for the sake of its communities. It would have all the following advantages:-
Encourage modal shift to walking and cycling leading to healthier children and adults.
Create a better environment on residential roads
Save lives and injury
Most people involved in transport development recognise that, at some time, 20 mph will become the default speed limit for all residential roads in the UK. Darlington can "hang on" till such a time and in the intervening period vulnerable road users in Darlington will die or be injured as a result of such a delay. The sooner we adopt the 20's Plenty initiative then the greater the saving in lives and injury and the earlier the benefits in quality of life on our streets. There are already 5.4 million people in the UK who have the benefit of living in places where it is agreed that 20 mph is the correct speed limit for residential roads.
Darlington children and adults want and need 20 mph as a default speed limit in the roads where they live and 20's Plenty For Us will be continuing its campaign for early adoption of this life saving move. I trust that our communities can count on your support for this initiative and that Darlington can be a "can do" authority when it comes to taking such sensible steps to make all our lives better and safer.
Please pledge your support for default 20 mph speed limits on Darlington’s residential roads and add this promise to you campaign. If I can assist in explaining the initiative, its benefits or its implementation then I would be very pleased to help.