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

Memorandum by East Sussex Transport 2000 (RTS 19)


  This is a very brief response which I hope is useful.

  Evidently, speed limits are commonly exceeded. The problem is endemic.

  Vehicles driven within the speed limit for a particular location are often intimidating and dangerous because their acceleration and power make crossing a road an unattractive prospect: a deterrent.

  The sheer ubiquity of the car makes the above a universal part of everyone's experiences.

  To deal with the problems arising from pervasive real and perceived danger, we need "Home Zones" on a large scale, living and activity spaces altogether free of vehicles, cars where the engines are "governed"—and a huge shift away from "car dependency" to walking, cycling and public transport. This would necessitate a reallocation of road space to those modes. The motor vehicle—car or powered two wheeler—must become greatly less ubiquitous. The welcome changes in lifestyle that would result would deliver so many cross policy objectives that value for money would be guaranteed. I'll be explicit: Health; Economy; Environment; Social Inclusion; Education; Transport, of course.

  A sub-objective—"tranquillity"—would be noticeable everywhere, including in our treasured landscapes and townscapes. The Yorkshire Dales National Park is a very dangerous and noisy place at Hawes, or between Kirkby Lonsdale and Skipton as racing and speeding motorcycles force families with young children against the wall so as to retain their line through the corner. The same goes for Castleton in the Peak District and the coast road on the south side of the Isle of Wight.

  We acquiesce in the promotion of "speed culture" when we apply non-skid surfaces to roundabouts, permitting higher entry/exit speeds at a point where it is apparently most suitable for pedestrians to cross. (Eastbourne, Upper Avenue) and no doubt, other places. Paradoxically, we reduce those speeds by narrowing the "flare" and carriageway at other roundabouts (Eastbourne District General Hospital). But vehicles are sold on the image of speed; "getting out of trouble" messages abound on TV ads. If there were candidates for a "Car Party" at election times, they'd stand a chance of winning through the sheer weight of video footage that falls out of TV screens into living rooms daily. Newspaper colour supplements often consist of 15-20 per cent car ads. Promotion of "car culture" is part of the problem and your committee may care to dwell on that.

  I commend the Council for the Protection of Rural England's "Quiet Lanes" initiative and Transport 2000 "Tourism Without Traffic" strategy document as useful attempts to focus on the problems around ever-increasing numbers of cars which increases the ubiquity of cars and the incidences of anti-social behaviour of drivers. Also commendable is Suffolk County Council's 30mph limit in all the country's villages. It's a good start.

  Trains and buses observe speed limits and kill very few people. Road vehicles don't and kill 3,500 people a year. We don't want to be part of a society which happily turns a blind eye to tens of thousands of killed and injured each and every year.

  An urgent start needs to be made through education at junior/secondary level which equips students with a critical awareness needed to discern the impact on society of various forms of transport.

  Sorry it was a rush job!

Derrick Coffee

East Sussex Transport 2000

January 2002

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