Cats killed on Freshford's roads
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Freshford six cats killed on the roads in 2012 despite a 20mph speed limit
It is alarming that last year (2012) six cats died after being run over by vehicles in Freshford. This carnage is happening in a village with a 20 mph speed limit. Some of these cats died on a Sunday so this issue is not entirely due to speeding motorists going to work. I suppose that what we are dealing with is drivers who are not concerned about other living creatures. Perhaps, as is more likely, these drivers are unaware of what they are doing when they drive their vehicles, driving has become automatic.
Freshford motorists should be ashamed of themselves
However, it is a shame, I repeat a shame that families are unwilling to own a cat because they are afraid they will lose it to drivers who do not care. Or should I say, seem to be unaware of the danger they pose to wildlife when they drive their vehicle. I wonder why these drivers live in the country?
Not only animals are at risk in Freshford
I was nearly hit as a cyclist going down The Hill by a motorist (the road was wet) who said she was not going more than 20mph. Did she really think that she was not going too fast because she was not going more than 20mph? Twenty miles per hour up hill on a wet road around a bend, The Hill is not straight. She skidded, how can someone in a Mercedes car have to skid while driving up hill, supposedly at no more than twenty miles per hour? Perhaps she was looking at her speedometer and failed to see me until she had to brake, to brake heavily enough to make a modern car with ABS braking system skid whilst going up hill! However, twenty miles per hour is a little less than the speed of the World record holder runner over a kilometer distance and if one were to ride a bike at 20mph one would realist that 20 mph is fast- try it.
Speed limits and village quality of life in Westwood, Freshford and Limpley Stoke
We have twenty mile per hour speed limits though Westwood, Freshford and Limpley Stoke. Some, if not all, of these speed limits have yet to be approved. Unfortunately, whilst speed limits supported by a TRO (Traffic regulation order) can be enforced by police much of the problem seems to be centred around drivers who drive at the speed limit. To a pedestrian, cyclist and equestian vehicles do travel too fast. As recent measurements in Westwood indicate, often the vehcles are not travelling as fast as people on foot think. But in terms of safety, being in a car travelling at 20mph or more is like sitting watching TV compared to being passed on the road as a pedestrian by a motor vehicle: even a small car weighs 500kg or half a ton. The majority of drivers, both Freshford drivers and other local drivers drive with considerable consideration for other road users the problem lies, as always, with those that do not.
We really need the speed limits to be approved by TROs and must insist that police do regular speed checks, otherwise the limits will be ignored as perhaps they are now.
Housing in the countryside the consequences
There has been considerable building in the countryside and will be more. The countryside being land which surrounds a city, town or village. There is no demand for this housing other than it is cheaper than living in town (eg. Bath) as there is little opportunity for work. Recent expansion in Bradford on Avon, for example, is not matched by local work opportunities. One of the consequences of this new building is that more and more peope are travelling comsiderably distances to work, mostly by car. Unfortunately, I do not feel that these commuters are in the mood to obey speed limits let alone have regard for someone's pet. There is no neccesity for a driver to notify the police if he or she has an accident involving a cat although there is with a dog. Or this is incorrect see below:
Road accidents that must be reported to police
If you hit and injure an animal (apart from a bird), you are required by law to do whatever you reasonably can to ease its pain. If it’s not a wild animal then the injury must be reported to the police or the animal’s owner. This is from an Australian website but one shouold think that it should apply to the UK.
Anyone witnessing an accident involving a cat should take the registration number of the car.
The majority of drivers, both Freshford drivers and other local drivers drive with considerable consideration for other road users the problem lies, as always, with those that do not.
Posted on 16 Jan 2013 by Geoff Edwards
Most rural roads have wrong speed limit
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Rural roads not safe at posted speed limit
The extract below from the European Road Assessment Programme - EuroRAP's website summarises the current standard of road safety in a report on England's roads which can be downloaded from the website. I note this: two-thirds of English trunk road single carriageways rate 2-stars.
John Dawson, Chairman of EuroRAP says: "If a driver is belted, sober and obeying the speed limit, then the risk of death and injury in a 4-star car on a 4-star road is small. But most rural roads in Europe are not safe at the posted speed limit. Most deaths happen on busy 1- or 2-star main single carriageway roads that need urgent investment in affordable safety line markings, safety fencing and junction layouts."
Dawson continues: "Road crashes cost the British economy 1.5 per cent of GDP, some GBP18 billion, annually. A fortune is being spent on emergency services, hospitalisation and long term care of victims when we could make road travel as safe as rail or air. UK roads can be the safest in the world over the next decade if the same high return investment in safe road design is made as other leading nations."
European Road Assessment Programme
Posted on 30 Jun 2010 by Geoff Edwards
UK speed Limit system request 5 mph increments
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Sensible speed limits: we need 5 mph increments!
With local arguments raging about whether traffic will comply with the introduction of the trial 20 mph speed limits to be introduced in Limpley Stoke and especially Westwood there has arisen a query as to why we can't have 25 mph speed limits for roads that are regarded as too fast for a 30 mph limit and too slow for a 20 mph limit.
The USA has at its disposal a speed limit system that may use increments of 5 mph. This system allows for highway engineers to set speed limits that are matched to the road and its associated geometry. So, why can't our highway engineers have the option of finely tuning our speed limits?
A Google search does not result in references to why the UK does not have the option of using speed limits that are posted in multiples of 5 mph, other than some possible legal issue in relation to motor vehicle speedometer design variations. Surely, we can think of speed limits other than in multiples of ten? Anticipating that I might be suggesting more road signs to clutter up the countryside and distract drivers, I would like to suggest that I am not proposing more road signs, only that in suitable locations the existing limits may be changed. The proposed changes might be an increase in the existing speed limit or a reduction but they would be sensible changes to what at present are often speed limits that are inappropriate. Probably, the majority of speed limits are set correctly, but there are others that are not.
Highways authorities tend to respond to requests to lower speed limits only when accident figures confirm that a road is dangerous. They ignore the intimidation that non motorists are subject to. They have coined the term Traffic Intimidation and have even held courses to help people come to terms with their fears. Nonsense, what we want is the freedom to walk, or cycle, or ride a horse on our local roads within or close to our villages without feeling that our lives are at risk.
Wiltshire County Council has responded to the increasing demand for action by frightened and angry residents by agreeing to run trial 20 mph speed limits in Limpley Stoke and Westwood and I compliment them for doing so. However, in relation to Lower Westwood Road in Westwood my opinion is that a 25 mph speed limit would be more appropriate. But then that's my opinion, if the Highway authority agrees with me, we are back to the issues of this article that a 25 mph speed limit is not yet legal.
On paper, what speed limits mean is that the posted speed limit is the absolute maximum speed that a vehicle might be driven at in ideal conditions ie. with due regard for road conditions: weather, pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders and pot holes! In which case the question one could pose is can any of these roads be driven at even for short distances at a speed of for example, 30 mph? If there are stretches of road where 30 mph under ideal conditions is appropriate then fair enough keep them. Fair enough, provided that that's what drivers think and are prepared to respond to, unfortunately, who can argue that motorists tend to drive at the maximum speed limit rather than regard the posted speed limit as the maximum?
Posted on 21 Jun 2010 by Geoff Edwards
25 mph speed limit is illegal so raise it to 30 mph!
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20 mph too slow, 25 mph illegal, so raise the 25 mph limit to 30 mph!
A case to show the absurdity of the UK system of speed limits. Location town or parish: Weston-Super-Mare and Kewstoke. Thre is no mention of road users other than motorists.
With regards to the accident history on this road, during the 3 years up to April 2004 when the last fatal accident occurred there had been 12 personal injury accidents. During the following 18-month period when the various safety measures have been installed there have not been any accidents. Whilst it is still too early to be definitive, it appears that whilst the safety measures have not significantly reduced speeds on the straight sections of road, driver behaviour has been influenced and safety along the road has improved significantly.
The options available are:
a) Retain the existing non-enforceable 25 mph limit (i.e. “do nothing”),
b) Introduce a statutory 20 mph limit,
c) Introduce a statutory 30 mph limit.
Option a) would have no effect on existing speeds, and would not allow action against drivers on the basis of speed alone. It is considered that an enforceable speed limit must be installed.
Option b) does not comply with the advice in the Circular, being too far below the prevailing speeds. A 20 mph limit is considered to be unrealistically low, with virtually all drivers currently exceeding this speed, and about 80% exceeding the enforcement threshold of 24 mph. Studies show that speed limits on their own have little impact on speeds, so signs would need to be supplemented by further traffic calming measures.
Option c) is consistent with the existing measured speeds, but would allow enforcement against the small number of drivers who drive significantly faster. ACPO guidelines suggest enforcement above (speed limit + 10% + 2 mph), i.e. above 35 mph in a 30 mph limit. The Safety Camera Partnership has indicated that they could enforce this legal limit as a “Community Concern Site”.
Concern has been expressed that replacing the existing 25 mph limit with one of 30 mph, albeit an enforceable one, may “send the wrong message to drivers”. Any change should be accompanied by publicity reminding drivers that the speed limit is the maximum speed, not a “target” speed, and that they should respond to prevailing weather and road conditions.
The roads at both ends of the Toll Road have existing 30 mph speed limits, by virtue of being lit. The existing changes of speed limit are marked by larger “terminal” signs. These would have to be removed if the 30 mph limit is made continuous, but “gateway” features could be installed by providing “30” roundel markings on the road surface at the change from Public Highway to private road. The Toll Road itself is unlit, and would therefore require “30” repeater signs (to replace the existing “25” repeaters).
Accordingly, it is recommended that a formal 30mph speed limit is installed on Kewstoke Road.
One wonders what the safety measures that were installed are, and how much effective enforcement costs.
"Concern has been expressed that replacing the existing 25 mph limit with one of 30 mph, albeit an enforceable one, may “send the wrong message to drivers”. Any change should be accompanied by publicity reminding drivers that the speed limit is the maximum speed, not a “target” speed, and that they should respond to prevailing weather and road conditions."
I suppose in this case nearly all driveres can be reached by publicity? Or do they mean a sign that lights up reminding drivers that the speed limit is the absolute maximum speed? The fact remains that it is surely nonsense to have to reduce a speed limit which has together with safety measures eliminated accidents because the 25 mph cannot be enforced.
Posted on 18 Jun 2010 by Geoff Edwards
So how fast is the 20 mph speed limit?
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So just how fast is a 20mph speed limit?
Whilst city and town dwellers argue for lowering the speed limit from 30 mph to 20 mph because they are very concerned about the safety of themselves and particularly their families, motorists complain that they will be driving at a snails pace. The reality is that none of these motorists could run faster over 100M than the current World Record Holder Usain Bolt, who managed an average speed of 23.35 mph. No, 20 mph is not slow, try it on a bike.
Locally, Limpley Stoke and Westwood villages have been selected for 20 mph trial speed limits. Any experienced drivers will suggest that there are parts of both villages where depending on the time of day and other factors 30 mph would be a safe driving speed. The crucial word is "parts".
I drove through Westwood the other night very late and I drove at 20 mph. As I left the village a black and white cat darted across the road in front of me. Possibly, if I had been going faster I would have run it over. I don't won't to be responsible for killing anyone's cat let alone intimidating women and children by not driving at a reasonable speed when there are people about, so congratulations to both villages for campaigning for the 20 mph limit.
If motorist don't like it that is just too bad, they have only themselves to blame as the Highway Code states quite clearly that the posted speed limit is the ABSOLUTE MAXIMUM speed that a vehicle may be driven at, and that speed limit does not mean it is safe to drive at that speed. Unfortunately, many drivers do not heed that advice and tend to drive at the maximum speed limit and even tailgate drivers in front who are going slower! Other road users including: pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, as a consequence of inconsiderate driving feel intimidated, and often angry, and they have a right to feel that way.
Another issue is the nonsense that speed limits have to be in multiple increments of 10 mph. Yes, it's either 30 mph or 20 mph, when it could be 20, 25 or 30 mph. In some areas there are 40 mph speed limits when 35 mph would be more appropriate, unlike the USA which has 5 mph increments, the UK does not at present have an incremental speed limit system.
Posted on 17 Jun 2010 by Geoff Edwards
National Speed Limit for Villages
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National speed limit for villages
I think that this extract says it all. Too many people think that they should drive at the speed limit and to hell with every other road user. This is what the Highway Code has to say: The speed limit is the absolute maximum and does not mean it is safe to drive at that speed (the relevant section in the code is republished below)
Speed limits: Road Safety Bill
Mr. Chope: I had not intended to participate in the debate, but I think that the Minister and the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross have missed the main point, which is surely that all drivers should be driving at the speed that is appropriate in the circumstances. The village where I live used to have the national speed limit, although most people drove at about 20 mph because the road was single track and there were bends. If we impose a speed limit that is not regarded as the maximum in ideal circumstances, it will not command respect.
In the less populated rural areas, in particular, it is surely important that all motorists go at an appropriate speed. During the day, when there are children around, that speed may be different from what it would be at the night time or during the early hours of a summer morning. I am worried that there would be speed limit signs in every village in the countryside and that they would add to the rural clutter instead of reinforcing the message that too many people are driving too fast in particular circumstances, in relation to their own safety and the safety of others. That is what is emphasised in the highway code.
Too many people think that they should drive up to the speed limit. To finish my example, a blanket 40 mph speed limit zone was introduced in the whole of the New Forest, but that was too fast for our village, so another limitation on driving in our village had to be introduced, because it seemed implicit that people would drive at 40 mph. Surely, without the need for a lot of clutter and a lot more regulation, we should re-emphasise the need for people to drive at an appropriate speed, irrespective of what the speed limit sign says.
Hansard: You are here: Publications and Records > Commons Publications > Committees > Standing Committee on Bills New clause 7
National speed limit for villages
The Highway Code and speed limits
You MUST NOT exceed the maximum speed limits for the road and for your vehicle (see the table above). The presence of street lights generally means that there is a 30 mph (48 km/h) speed limit unless otherwise specified.
[Law RTRA sects 81, 86, 89 & sch 6]
The speed limit is the absolute maximum and does not mean it is safe to drive at that speed irrespective of conditions. Driving at speeds too fast for the road and traffic conditions is dangerous. You should always reduce your speed when
- the road layout or condition presents hazards, such as bends
- sharing the road with pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, particularly children, and motorcyclists
- weather conditions make it safer to do so
- driving at night as it is more difficult to see other road users
Drive at a speed that will allow you to stop well within the distance you can see to be clear. You should
- leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front so that you can pull up safely if it suddenly slows down or stops. The safe rule is never to get closer than the overall stopping distance (see Typical Stopping Distances PDF below)
- allow at least a two-second gap between you and the vehicle in front on roads carrying faster-moving traffic and in tunnels where visibility is reduced. The gap should be at least doubled on wet roads and increased still further on icy roads
- remember, large vehicles and motorcycles need a greater distance to stop. If driving a large vehicle in a tunnel, you should allow a four-second gap between you and the vehicle in front
If you have to stop in a tunnel, leave at least a 5-metre gap between you and the vehicle in front.
This means that if I travel at 20mph a following driver should be driving at a distance of no less than 40 feet behind me and at 30 mph a driver behind should maintain a gap of 75 feet, yes and pigs can fly!
Posted on 02 Jun 2010 by Geoff Edwards
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Speed Limits and health
The following extracts are from a government publication. The report reveals the public health implications of the speed of vehicles
<quote> Excessive speed is a major cause of deaths and injuries, especially in children
Speeding is dangerous for the driver (for whom it is a self-imposed risk), passengers and other motorists, but it is especially dangerous for vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians, particularly children and older people.
Trauma is the most common cause of death among children, and road traffic injuries account for half of these. Two thirds of deaths and serious injuries among children involve child pedestrians injured in road crashes.
The death rate from road traffic injuries for children in the UK is twice the European average. Most of these injuries occur in urban areas, and excessive speed is the single most important factor in such crashes.
Even apparently low levels of speeding pose significant risks. For each 1 per cent increase in speed there is a 5 per cent increase in mortality; in many urban and residential situations travelling at the legal speed limit may be too fast.
Physical inactivity is a major public health problem
Across the UK physical inactivity now has a greater absolute effect on levels of coronary heart disease than smoking, and the problem is increasing, with dramatic increases in overweight and obesity; this is particularly worrying among children. One of the main reasons for reduced activity levels is the decline of walking and cycling resulting from perceptions of danger from fast traffic. </quote>
There are many drivers who do drive considerately but there are also many who do not. For those that do not drive with due care and consideration there are speed limits. Speed limits should help to enforce safer driving. However, unless the police are able to use speed traps on a regular basis there is unlikely to be a great change in driver behaviour. Until drivers slow down, pedestrians will continue to feel intimidated and will either keep off the roads or reduce their excursions.
What can we do
We can help to reduce the speed of vehicles travelling through our towns and villages and the countryside by driving slower. There are many roads that are too narrow to allow for overtaking so speeding motorists will find that their speed is controlled by the vehicle in front. Be that vehicle in front :)
Posted on 02 Jun 2010 by Geoff Edwards
Speed Limits and Sat-nav in the UK
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But first what is a speed limit? What better resource is there than Wikipedia? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_limit It is a very, very interesting article. And I mean very interesting. The article needs about fifteen minutes to read and digest, but it is well worthwhile! Let's take,as an example, the first person to be convicted of breaking a speed limit. The first person to be convicted of speeding in the UK was Walter Arnold of East Peckham, Kent. On January 28, 1896 he was fined for speeding at 8 mph (13 km/h), thus exceeding the contemporary speed limit of 2 mph (3.2 km/h). He was fined 1 shilling plus costs (from the Wikipedia article) Now, doesn't that sound absurd? Yes , yes, yes! How on earth can someone be accused of speeding at that speed, slower than someone can walk, except by some balmy legal system? I am not going to answer that, but I don't really suppose that the authority was balmy, they had their reasons. But today, in 2010 I can drive my Land Rover Discovery weight 2 tons through most villages and towns at speeds up to 30 mph. Most of these towns and certainly villages do not really enforce the speed limit. The police might occasionally organise a speed trap, but they need to choose a location that is safe not only for the officers but also where there is space to pull the driver over. I don't think that the authorities that set these speed limits are balmy. But, I do challenge the wisdom of many of them when they set speed limits, and when they review them. Wiltshire has just published a review of speed limits on the A and B roads. the C and D roads, many of which go through villages will be reviewed later. I am not sure whether I am allowed to publish the recommendations which are subject to review.
Maximum speed limits
I will leave for another article, the discussion of what is an appropriate speed limit. My understanding of what a speed limit is for, is that it is for informing road users that they are entering a zone where a speed limit is in operation. The local authorities have determined that vehicles should not exceed the posted speed limit for the safety of the public. There are maximum speeds associated with certain types of road in the UK: 70 mph on motorways and dual carriageways and 60 mph on all other roads. sisty mph is the National Speed Limit. There are also additional speed limits to reduce the speed of motorists. The reason why there are speed limits is because to exceed the posted limit would endanger the driver and other road users. A speed limit sign is an important guide to road users that they should limit their speed for one reason or another. The sign is also, a warning for that those who exceed the speed limit that they will be breaking the law and this can result in a fine. This means that speed limit signs should not be disregarded. The government link Speed: know your limits is a PDF document. It is interesting to note that The Times Online has an article on a government proposal to cut the National Speed Limit from 60 to 50 mph, except for certain A class roads. Cut Speed to 50
Scrap speed limits?
Whilst local people will understand that the speed limit is appropriate, and may not really need to have a speed limit, strangers will not have that local knowledge. There is also an important role that road markings and signs have that should contribute information to road users that they should modify their speed. These signs can negate the necessity to have a speed limit. Whilst the majority of the public who drive on the roads do so sensibly and use road signage to guide them in selecting an appropriate speed, unfortunately there are others who do not. It is therefore, necessary to have speed limits. The existence of a speed limit does mean that the police could be used to control motorists speed. This is especially effective where there are radar traps that are in operation most of the time. However, the use of speed limits, it could be argued, is not necessary. There is a danger that drivers ignore speed limits that appear to be unnecessary, especially where it is unlikely that the limit will be enforced.
With the introduction of sat-nav navigation systems motorists are directed to take routes that they would not have been aware of before the advent of sat-nav. This has meant an increase in the number of road users in rural areas. These road users are ignorant of local road conditions and a proportion of these drivers are impatient to get to their destination, and will thus be travelling faster than they should. It is therefore, very important that both road signage and speed limits need to be very carefully selected.
In another article I will discuss some roads in Wiltshire and Somerset that are subject to inappropriate speed limits. These roads are examples of a lack of wisdom locally, and I am sure that examples could be found elsewhere.
Posted on 04 Feb 2010 by Geoff Edwards