Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 400 - 408)



  400. Do you think that that will be effective in ensuring that as we move forward the lot of pedestrians is made better?
  (Mr Deegan) I am in no doubt that without an effective champion of that nature it will continue to be difficult for attitudes to walking to change.

  401. To ask a final question about terrible dog-leg crossings and so on, if there were no government guidelines, or anything else, would Warwickshire try to make crossings more pedestrian-friendly?
  (Mr Deegan) In ideal circumstances, I would try to move the road-carrying capacity away from sensitive areas, if necessary by new road construction, to allow a much more pedestrian-friendly environment in locations where it mattered, which is what we hope to do in your constituency.

  402. You referred to road maintenance. The partially-sighted, elderly and others frequently trip because of the poor state of our pavements. Should the maintenance of pavements have greater priority perhaps at the expense of other road maintenance?
  (Mr Deegan) I have searched but not found any national evidence on the point. There is local evidence in the context of a review of our own highway maintenance policy which I undertook a year or so ago. Two things emerge from that survey: first, that there is a significantly different level of satisfaction with the maintenance of pavements in my county than with general road maintenance; in other words, people are much more dissatisfied with pavement maintenance than they are with road maintenance generally. Secondly, there are very significant differences between age groups. In particular, elderly people are very much more dissatisfied with the quality of pavement investment than the general public. As a consequence, our maintenance priorities are shifting.

  403. What are the main changes required to make walking easier for the blind, partially-sighted and elderly? Apart from maintenance, what other things do we need to do to pavements to make the lot of those people better?
  (Mr Deegan) One needs to see it in the round. We need to develop more effective pedestrian routes. I believe that it was the London Planning Advisory Committee which developed the catchy concept of the five C's: convenience, comfort, conspicuousness and so on. I believe that that is an appropriate model to follow. Obviously, in relation to the particular needs of blind, elderly or disabled people one must pay special attention to that. However, to try to lay down national specifications in relation to issues that might best be dealt with locally may not necessarily be the right thing to do.


  404. You have just told us that you were following the national guidelines for crossings but now you say that it is much better to develop schemes locally.
  (Mr Deegan) With respect, I said that it was not necessarily the case that those guidelines should be followed. Clearly, we implement facilities which we hope are helpful to the partially-sighted and disabled. That ranges from tactile surfaces to coloured surfaces and edges, beeper crossings and so on. I suspect that there is some considerable way to go in terms of rolling out the application of that kind of facility, but I believe that it is appropriate to look at local circumstances in the light of the opportunities.

Mr Olner

  405. I know that in my constituency you have great experience of the speed of urban traffic. Do you believe that there should be a general speed limit in urban areas of 20 mph instead of the current limit of 30 mph?
  (Mr Deegan) It would be very easy to say "yes" because I am sure that that is so in an ideal world.

  406. In that case, Germany is an ideal world because it applies a blanket limit of 30 kmh, which is approximately 20 mph, in residential areas?
  (Mr Deegan) The issue is about enforceability. Obviously, there are various ways to enforce speed reductions. We have seen quite extensive use made of traffic-calming measures as a means of reducing speed and, incidentally, in the process significantly lowering the incidence of road accidents.

  407. But you and I know that they have not always been popular?
  (Mr Deegan) They are not always popular. Clearly, it is difficult to look to the police for enforcement through traditional means.

  408. As a first step do you believe that the Government should announce that they intend to make the streets safer for all pedestrians—mums, dads, boys and girls—by reducing the speed limit to 20 mph, not 30 mph? Enforcement comes after that. Do you believe that the Government should make a statement like that?
  (Mr Deegan) I am not sure that a blanket 20 mph limit is appropriate. It will lead to complications in parts of urban areas which may be regarded as through routes. I believe that it is more appropriate to do what the Government have done; namely, to introduce enabling legislation for home zones and speed reductions. The solutions to these problems ought to be dealt with at a more local level.

  Chairman: On that note, thank you very much for your evidence.

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