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,
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
Secretary, Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign
7 January 2001