This will lead to more accidents not fewer
AS your editorial (The Post, February 21) states, you have "...consistently backed the idea for 20mph zones in Bristol." ..and go on to repeat your reasons for doing so.
As someone who has consistently been appalled by the prospect, however, at first thinking it some sort of joke but gradually realising that the council were not only serious in its consideration but have now agreed and started implementing it, I can stay silent no longer – if only because your article says my own area of Knowle is to be one of the next on the list.
To me, this really does come under the banner of "you couldn't make it up". As if there are not enough restrictions in Bristol imposed by our "we're not anti-car" council already, this seems utterly, mind-blowingly, facile. To spend £2.3 million on a scheme (grant-funded or not) that cannot work, cannot be enforced and, moreover, has the potential to cause more accidents and injuries/death than presently occur in the current economic climate is simply bizarre.
You may imply from my words so far that I am a car driver. You may not realise that I am a driver of some 35 years who has never had so much as a parking ticket in his life and who believes that every human life is precious and has always thought that anything that can possibly save so much as one life (or one injury) has to be a good thing. Why then, you ask, do I take issue with this scheme so blatantly publicised as being in the public interest/interests of health and safety?
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Well, firstly, you have published letters and opinions from numerous people, both members of the public and "experts" in their fields, who are happy to state that speed is only cited as a contributory factor in a fraction accidents and that the effects of pollution will be greatly increased, mpg reduced, etc, all negative effects.
Secondly, as a very careful driver who rarely breaks the current 30mph limit, I have tried to keep to 20mph in the roads where it has already been introduced – most often where not a single pedestrian (let alone a child) can be seen and on very reasonably wide roads, and found this extremely difficult to do. I am prepared to try to do it, but the morons who currently do 40 or 50mph in 30mph limit areas are hardly likely to suddenly decide to slow down because the limit is 20mph. I am already regularly tail-gated, and even overtaken on blind corners, brows of hills, etc in the current limit. At 20mph this can only lead to more accidents, not fewer.
After that, as has been postulated already by others, the limits are totally unenforceable. Police time and resources should not, can not and will not be wasted to any great degree on this. At best, the odd mobile camera van will be parked on the odd street on the odd day (probably at 6.30 in the morning, at the bottom of a hill on a clear day – I'm such a cynic), to make criminals of more motorists straying slightly over this new limit (here I am, doing 23mph, and suddenly, I'm a dangerous, speeding driver), forcing them to pay a fine and higher insurance costs (and possibly leaving more people unable to afford such and therefore resorting to driving without).
I could go on – about the nanny state and the educating of people of how to cross a road safely, not slowing traffic to a crawl, being the best way to avoid accidents, and more – but in summary everything about this scheme seems to me, if unfortunately not to you, to be totally counter-productive.
As a final point, I would add that limited 20mph zones – in narrow roads or those with cars parked on both sides, on roads past schools, hospitals, public areas, whatever make perfect sense. A blanket limit, as I understand this going to be, on every residential road in Bristol, is not. If you want people to respect the law, laws have to be able to be respected; people need to understand the reason for them and see the benefit of them, not view them as pointless and unenforceable, if not downright dangerous.
I await with apprehension my visit to the displays that will presumably tell me which roads in my own area are to be subjected to this asinine project. What saddens me is that despite "full consultation" (I was never contacted to give my views as far as I'm aware), no regard at all seems to have been given to any objections – restrict it to narrow roads and busy pedestrian streets, restrict it to daylight hours maybe, other things that might make some sense of it all – but, no, it's happening, everywhere, get used to it.