Vehicle monitored doing 68 mph in Alness Drive 20 mph zone

In response to a Freedom of Information request, the York Council has published updated figures indicating the effect that the revised 20 mph speed limits have had on average vehicle speeds and accident levels.

The figures reveal that the new limits have had little or no effect on average vehicle speeds while some accident levels have actually risen.

The data updates that published in March 2015 which showed similar results.

The data covers the 20 mph wide area limit in western York implemented in 2013/14. The project cost £600,000 to implement and was widely criticised for failing to recognise that such limits were unenforceable and, in any event, would have a negligible effect on accident levels.

Opponents wanted the money spent directly on safety improvements at accident black spots.

On some 20 mph roads such as Alness Drive the maximum speed recorded this year has been as much as 68mph – well above levels seen before the speed limit change

Overall there has been a reduction of only 1.3 mph in mean speeds.
Accident levels in the area have increased from 62 recorded in 2012 to 78 in 2015

On a related issue, North Yorkshire police are to be asked to justify their decision to increase the number of mobile speed enforcement cameras vans to six.

The Police responded to an FOI inquiry indicting that they only held information relating to the total number of offences which had been recorded when a van visited a particular location. This information had been published on their web site for couple of years now.

The police also publish how they they are dealing with specific speeding complaints raised by members of the public (although there is a backlog). click here

However, it doesn’t provide a measure of how effective the vans have been in controlling vehicle speeds or in reducing the number of accidents on the roads being monitored.

The number of drivers exceeding the prevailing speed limit is only a crude reflection of the “success” of the cameras.  Changes in offender numbers may simply reflected changes in traffic volumes.

Against a background of increasing numbers of road casualty’s, residents need to be convinced that roads are now safer as a result of police investment.

A further request for the information is now being drafted.

Comparative vehciels speeds in west York pre and post 20 mph limits

Comparative vehicle speeds in west York pre and post 20 mph limit change

Road accident trends in west York

Road accident trends in west York

Traffic accidents up in York

The numbers killed or seriously injured in road traffic accidents in York increased from 58 to 75 last year.

KSI figures to 2015

Figures obtained using Freedom of Information legislation reveal that accident rates in York increased significantly in 2014.

All types of road user were affected including pedestrians and cyclists.

The increase was the largest since the “95Alive” task group was set up 10 years ago to counter a peak in road causalities.

The increase is bound to reopen the debate about wide area 20 mph speed limits. One of the claimed objectives of that project – launched in 2013 – was to reduce accidents. Opponents warned that the consequences could be that police enforcement time was reduced at accident black spots and that the deterrent affect, of focusing lower speed limits at key sites like schools and shopping areas, would be lost.

It appears that these concerns were justified.

Up to 2011, the Council’s Executive member used to receive a regular public report on road traffic accidents. The reports included details of the type of accident and the location. Officials made recommendations about possible remedial works (road alignment, signage, speed enforcement etc) which might avoid accidents in the future. This approach was abandoned by the last Council when it fell under Labour control. 

It is time for a targeted approach to accident reduction – covering the activities of all agencies – to be reintroduced

Labour in York to impose 20 mph speed limits on all roads in York?

In the wake of decisions in London Labour Councillors in York are now advocating, on social media, the introduction of a default 20 mph speed limit across the whole of York.

Crash map York

Labour were accused of sneaking through their proposed “wide area”  20 mph limits when voters last went to the polls in 2011. Their plan was in the small print of a manifesto with most residents never saw.

Evening standard headline

The scheme in London is apparently aimed at “reducing cycling casualties”. Ironically a previous study in the capital revealed that the introduction of 20 mph limits there had resulted in an increase in average speeds.

 In York, most cycling accidents in result in slight injuries, occur on roads where vehicle speeds are already low and often at road junctions (click for map). Accident levels have reduced in recent years to a total of 144 in 2013 (the last full year for which figures are available) following the introduction of more “off road” cycle tracks. There were no fatalities.

Cycling was 61% safer in 2012 than it was in 2002 (per mile travelled) according to the CTC.

Labour has spent £600,000 on implementing “wide area” 20 mph limits since 2012.

Out of the 535km of roads within York’s Outer Ring Road / A64.

  • 333km (62%) of road are subject to a 20mph limit.
  • 202km (38%) have a speed limit of 30mph or more.

Of the 333km of roads with a 20mph limit, 275km (51% of the total) have been created as 20mph ‘signed only’ limits during the last 3 years.

Prior to this the majority of 20mph limits were traffic calmed 20mph Zones.

The council has refused FOI requests to provide information on “before and after” accident rates on the “signed only” streets in west York or to provide information on the actual effect – if any – that the signs have had on driver speeds.

It is to be hoped that all candidates contesting the Council elections on May 7th will make their policies clear on how cycling can be encouraged and made safer.

 In addition electors need to know which Party’s will extend 20 mph limits and which would focus resources at accident black-spots.

York Council wastes £600,000

Labours 20 mph speed limits are not working

20 mph sign

Figures gained from the York Council by the Liberal Democrats under Freedom of information legislation confirm what most had suspected.

The new “signed only”20 mph speed limits have had little effect on vehicle speeds.

In the South Bank area—where the lower limits were introduced 2 years ago—the average speed of vehicles on several roads has actually INCREASED

On Prices Lane average speeds are up from 21 to 23 mph with a similar picture on part of Scarcroft Road (22 to 23 mph)

On most roads the average speed is the same as it was when the limit was set at 30 mph.

This is in line with results from other parts of the country.

Only in relatively narrow terraced streets—and on one section of Bishopthorpe Road itself—has there been a reduction in speeds, but even there it has usually been less than 1 mph.

When leaving the City on Bishopthorpe Road at a point near Rectory Gardens the majority of driver’s are now travelling at 29 mph rather than the 33 recorded before the change to a 20 mph limit.

The Council has declined so far to publish an analysis of accident rates in the new 20 mph areas. However the numbers Killed or Seriously Injured on all York’s roads last year—the first since resources were focused on introducing 20 mph speed limits—increased from the 51, recorded in 2012, to 58.

Tudor Road speed limit confusion click

Tudor Road speed limit confusion click

Local Councillor Ann Reid  said,

“We should set the most appropriate speed limit for each urban road.

People understand 20 zones with speed tables at schools, shops and major crossing points, but there is now a confused mix of 30mph and 20 mph roads around our area.”

The FOI data for South Bank can be downloaded by clicking here


Andrew Waller who is the LibDem candidate in the Westfield ward by election on 16th October has produced the following evidence of confusion over speed limits.

“There is no better example, of the muddled way in which the new “wide area” speed limits were introduced, than on Tudor Road. (see pictures above right)

Vehicles approaching from Stuart Road are told that a 30 mph limit is in force.

Meanwhile motorists already on Tudor Road are told that the limit has changed—to 20 mph— about 100 metres before the road junction.

Small wonder that the Police aren’t able to enforce the speed limits and that motorists are confused”

York Council urged to publish information on effects of 20 mph speed limit roll out

Study in London finds wide area 20 mph limits have led to an INCREASE in average vehicle speeds

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Hot on the heels of revelations that accident rates have increased in some City’s where wide area 20 mph speed limits have been introduced now comes news that average vehicle speeds may also be increasing.

The main objection to the York Councils £600,000 programme of 20 mpg speed signs has been that it would have little, if any,effect on driver behaviour.

If the effect is neutral then there would be little point in throwing good money after bad next year when a new Council would have to decide whether to pay for the signs to be removed (other than from accident blackspots and locations like school entrances where there is a higher risk of an accident)

If any of the following tests are not satisfied the – post Labour – Council would have little option than to consult residents about changing the speed limits back to the default 30 mph

  1. If accident levels on areas, with the new limit, increase
  2. If vehicle speeds on the roads increase
  3. If police enforcement time is diverted way from other locations with a higher accident potential.

The York Council has been reluctant to report on the effects that the wide area speed limit in the Bishopthorpe Road area have had.

A Freedom of information request will reveal whether average speeds have reduced and to what extent.

Residents will also want to know whether any of the, increased number of, serious accidents which occurred in the City last year took place on roads with a 20 mph limit. (Most accidents in the York area occur on trunk roads or are slow speed impacts in the City centre).

All in all it seems to be time for the Council to provide residents with more feedback on their controversial project..

Serious accident levels up on 20mph limit roads

New government statistics say there were 521 accidents on York’s road during 2013.

There were no fatalities although there were 58 serious and 463 minor accidents.
20 mph sign
Although the wide area 20 mph speed limit was introduced towards the end of the year and will have little impact on the numbers, elsewhere in the country serious accident levels in 20 mph limit area increased by 29 per cent while slight casualties went up by 19 per cent.

This confirms a trend form previous years.

In the same year, there was a decrease in the number of serious and slight accidents on 30mph roads and 40 mph roads.

Serious accidents went down nine per cent on 30mph roads and seven per cent on 40 mph roads.

There was a five per cent reduction in slight accidents on 30 mph roads and a three per cent decrease on 40 mph roads.

The York council has always claimed that the main aim of the new 20 mph speed limits – which are widely ignored by drivers – was not to reduce accidents.

They have always failed to explain why they think the £0.6 million cost of the schemes could not be more usefully spent at accident blackspots.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists chief executive Simon Best commented:

Another 20 mph speed limit zone to be imposed on York

Behind closed doors logo

In another behind closed doors decision, the Council has agreed to introduce a wide area 20 mph speed limit across north York (Clifton/Rawcliffe/Huntington area)

Several formal objections were raised to the traffic orders. All were ignored.

Residents are becoming resigned to these limits being imposed but will expect them to be removed next year when a new Council takes over.

In other similar City’s the introduction of wide area 20 mph speed limits has coincided with an increase in the number of serious traffic accidents.

Just a shame that £600,000 of taxpayer’s money is being wasted.

Four local Councillors objected to the proposal (3 LibDem and 1 Tory)

Merrett 20 mph private Emails published

Minster FM have published details of private Emails exchanged by Labour Councillors over plans to introduce 20 mph speed limits across York.

In the Emails he tries to inflame opinion by calling for letters to be sent to the local paper – and to be posted on its web site – labelling opposition Councillors as “Ludites”.

It appears that the Emails were sent using Council facilities which breaches regulations forbidding the use of equipment, paid for by taxpayers, for political purposes.

The Emails reveal that the main road trial 20 mph limits have been ineffective, that accident levels in other City’s which introduced wide area 20 mph levels have increased and that there is a lot of opposition to the idea in York.

In released pre publication officer reports to Cllr Semleyn – a paid 20’s plenty organiser – he urges her to mobilise support.

The revelations are bound to increase pressure on Cllr Merrett to resign from his Cabinet post.

20 mph speed limits signs being put up?

The Councils £600,000 scheme to put up 20 mph speed limit signs across west York will apparently start this weekend.

20 mph

Had the signs gone up before mischief night we doubt many would have survived for long!

The scheme is being g introduced in the face of fierce opposition from the majority of residents.

In the Acomb, Westfield and Woodthorpe areas surveys showed 80% opposed the plan with costs and the ineffectiveness of putting signs, on streets where average speeds are already below 20 mph, being cited as the main concerns.

The Council are desperately trying to convert public opinion by selectively quoting the Police and “local head teachers” as supporting the change. Both the Police and “head teachers” also have responsibilities to taxpayers.

Ironically all the schools in west York already have a 20 mph speed limit outside their entrances – and have had for many years.

speed and accident record of streets in west York click to download

speed and accident record of streets in west York click to download

They might also look at the statistical data – suppressed by the Council during their consultation period – which can be downloaded here.

It revealed that most roads, that will get new 20 mph limits, have had no recorded accidents at all.

The bulk of accidents, in the York area, occur on the main arterial and trunk roads (which will continue with their current speed limits).

A couple of months ago the Council admitted that in other City’s (Portsmouth and Bristol) the number of accidents taking place in wide 20 mph limit area, had actually increased since the speed limits were reduced.

Even the hitherto responsible Benendon Healthcare organisation (where a Labour Councillor is in charge of public relations) appears to have been been taken in by the propaganda with their Chief Executive quoted as saying that it will improve safety.

Not for those living in Bristol and Portsmouth it didn’t.

The Council’s response is to use taxpayers money to pay for a video which is probably the most patronising piece of propaganda that you will see.

Numbers killed and seriously injured in York click to access source data

Numbers killed and seriously injured in York click to access source data

The last set of accident statistics for York roads, up to the end of 2012, have recently been published.

They reveal that those killed and seriously injured on our roads have fallen to an all time low.

This is the result of targeted accident reduction work the funding for which is being cut to pay for the 20 mph signs.

The figures for 2013 will be the last where most of the year reflected this priority. The 2014 figures should be published just a few days before the next local elections taken place (May 2015)

We hope that York residents’ will continue to drive at a safe speed taking into account all road conditions.

Poor turn out at Dringhouses “ward forum”

Only about 20 residents (plus a couple of Labour Councillors from other parts of the City) turned up at the Ward Forum last night despite the welcome attendance of Julia Mulligan the Police and Crime Commissioner.

Attendance at Ward meetings has fallen off since the council stopped publicising the meeting dates in ward newsletters.

Julia Mulligan spoke and answered questions for about an hour.

She confirmed that she is maintaining Police and PCSO numbers at the level she inherited – 1392 and 183.

On 20mph limit enforcement she said that the new ACPO guidelines would be adopted in N Yorks. This means that 20mph limits will be subject to the same process as 30mph limits. If a road has persistent speeding problems then it could be subject to enforcement. Residents will have to record their concerns through the 95 Alive forms and the same process will follow.

There will be no new resources to do this so they will just have to take their turn with all the rest. The main difference is that if people are stopped in a 20mph limit then there will be the same options of taking a speed awareness course, instead of a fine and points, as there is now for the 30mph limits.

However the new policy does represent a change of approach from the Conservatives in North Yorkshire, who have previously been as sceptical as we are about wide area 20 mph limits and the wisdom of allocating scares Police resources to roads where there have been no recorded accidents.

If any tickets are issued in the new 20 mph areas during the first year of operation, on roads with a low accident record, then it is likely that the new Council, which will be elected in May 2015, will decide to scrap the new restrictions.