The Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee is asked to:
1. Note and comment on the contents of the report.
2. Note the proposed modifications to current approach to reflect current learning and best practice
3. Note that a series of research pilots should be undertaken to determine the effectiveness of alternative (innovative) traffic calming measures at locations where the prevailing road speeds are between 24mph and 28mph.
Simon Jones (Director of Highways, Transportation and Waste) Nikola Floodgate (Schemes Planning and Delivery Manager) and Steve Horton (Casualty Reduction Manager) were in attendance for this item.
1. Mr Whiting (Cabinet Member for Planning, Highways, Transportation and Waste) introduced the report that set out the review of the County Council’s approach to 20mph speed limits to ensure they met the requirements of the latest guidance. Mr Whiting highlighted to Members that there were over 1,000 roads within Kent that were subject to 20mph zones or limits and that in the past 24 months, there had been 22 schemed implemented that covered 286 roads. Mr Whiting said that the report explored the benefits of modifying the criteria required to implement a 20mph speed limit through greater flexibility, and in particular, the measures that could be taken in locations where prevailing road speeds were between 24mph and 28mph.
2. Mr Jones informed the Committee that a review of the research published by the Department for Transport (DfT) was carried out as well as a review of the policy which compared Kent County Councils approach to 20mph with other local authorities, the results of which confirmed that Kent’s policy was aligned to national policy. However, Kent County Council was keen to review and consider the use of more innovative and less intrusive traffic calming measures, which was reflected throughout the report.
3. As a supplement to this, Ms Floodgate said that whilst the current approach remained compliant and consistent with national standards, there was merit in exploring the benefits of modifying the criteria required to implement a 20mph speed limit by providing greater flexibility. The proposed scheme would also help to deliver a more cost-effective approach and would be aligned to the active travel and public health agenda with a shared aim of reducing accidents on Kent’s roads. The pilot schemes would be located in locations where there were prevailing road speeds between 24mph and 28mph and results of the trials would be reported back to the Committee within 12 months of their implementation. The success of the scheme would be measured by speeds before and after, the number of collisions and the perception of safety by local residents.
4. Officers responded to Members comments and questions as follows:
(a) Mr Whiting said that funding had been allocated to carry out a review and develop an evidence base to support the future use of an expanded list of traffic calming measures. This evidence would include best practice in other parts of the country and how this may be applied to Kent’s schemes.
(b) Ms Floodgate confirmed that the allocated budget for the review was £75,000 and this was from the 2019-20 Local Transport Plan budget
(c) With regard to community support, this would be instigated and undertaken by Town/Parish Council/Residents’ Groups. Mr Whiting provided Members with an example of community support from within his own constituency and said that residents had carried out a survey which received full support for a 20mph speed limit zone. This was then presented to Mr Whiting with the confidence to address the Parish Council and offer combined funding to the Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) to support the implementation of the request. Ms Floodgate added that common support trials had already been carried out and work was being done with Faversham Town Council and the 20’s Plenty Group to review scenarios where a blanket 20mph approach was going to be adopted and instead, a compromise was found to adopt an approach that was most effective for that area in question.
(d) Ms Floodgate said that whilst the DfT enabled Kent County Council to use a blanket approach and enforce 20mph speed limits, a more risk adverse approach through innovative calming measures to identify the right speed for the right environment helped to reduce casualty numbers. In Many cases Kent County Council had gone against the recommendations of the Police and taken into account other factors that supported the need for a 20mph speed limit. Mrs Floodgate also confirmed that the Policy did not support the suggestion that 20mph limits were not permitted on A and B roads but that they were not normally suitable.
(e) Mr Whiting informed the Committee that there was a separate policy and fund for road safety interventions. If the 20mph scheme was the solution to a proven safety issue, there would be a separate budget to address that and would be implemented as part of a Road Safety Improvement Plan.
(f) Mr Jones addressed Members queries regarding Margate Town Centre and said that the scheme allowed District/ Parish Council’s to request intermittent traffic calming measures where there were seasonal changes and this would ensure that variable speed limits were applied at the appropriate times of year and times of the day to help balance tourist need with business need.
(g) Ms Floodgate said that whilst the report states that a further report to the Committee would be presented 12 months after the implementation of the scheme, the aim was to have all schemes in place within a 12-month period and then to provide feedback to the Committee as soon as practically possible.
(h) In response to the effects of lowering speed limits, Mr Horton said that following a road traffic collision, life care would usually cost around £4m. In terms of the speed severity, Government statistics identified that when a person is hit at 30mph there was a 7% fatality rate, when hit at 35mph there was a 14% fatality rate and when hit at 40mph there was a 33% fatality rate.
(i) Mr Jones said that air quality was a significant factor, however, due care needed to be taken to ensure that by implementing lower speeds within one area, this did not have a negative impact in other areas as vehicles would then increase their speeds. Air quality needed to be resolved, not re-located to other areas.
5. RESOLVED that the proposed modifications to the current approach to reflect current learning and best practice; and the proposed series of research pilots that would need to be undertaken to determine the effectiveness of alternative (innovative) traffic calming measures at locations where the prevailing road speeds were between 24mph and 28mph, be noted.