Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Killing Speed

I got a pleasant warm glow this evening when two transport-related stories led the Advertiser front page. (If I just played bridge, it could've been a clean sweep....)

I've covered the cycle path story already (nice of the Echo to catch up). Of equal significance, however, is the news about Labour's 20mph initiative.

The evidence is clear - slower vehicle speeds lead to fewer accidents. Those which do occur are less likely to lead to fatalities or serious injuries.

In a £250,000 set of schemes, 20mph zones will be rolled out across the town, subject to local consultation. In some places, like Coombe Drive in Red Hall or Oakwood Drive in my ward, the infrastructure to ensure low traffic speeds (speed cushions and the like) are already in place, so creating a 20mph zone is simply a matter of consulting and advertising an Order. Elsewhere, such as Eastbourne, Lascelles and Northgate, traffic calming will need to be installed.

Darlington already has an excellent record on road safety. These measures will help drive down needless fatalities and injuries still lower.


Anonymous said...

I agree that slower speed prevent accidents, but could I suggest that you spend a day on Corporation Road (with Speedgun) to see how many ignore your 20 m.p.h..

How about speed cameras where they really matter on streets like Corporation Road and others around the town.

It needs policing Cllr Wallis.

Mike said...

Excellent news. More 20 zones please.

You only have to stand on the junction of Corporation Road and look past the '30' signs down Easson Road to see how silly a 30MPH limit is there. The same is true of most streets in the town; to think that someone could legally do 30MPH past my house is shocking.

Darlington Cycle Campaign would like to see a 20MPH limit for the whole town. Are there any reasons why this would not be a good idea?

I also agree with the previous commenter that more policing of these new reduced speed limits is needed, and in the areas that remain 30 limits. Cars on Wylam Avenue regularly exceed the speed limit.

Darlington Councillor said...

One possible outcome of a larger 20mph zone is that drivers within it should get used to travelling at slower speeds. Certainly experience on Whinfield Park in my own ward suggests that the traffic calming means that the speed limit becomes self-enforcing, although in Corporation Road of course, there will be far more through traffic.

Speed cameras are a tricky issue. They are the responsibility of the Police and not the Council. Durham is one of the few constabularies to come out against static speed cameras. Instead we work with the Police and have invested in a number of sites where mobile speed cameras can be situated around the Borough. In the town itself, we have promoted our speed visors, which inform motorists if they are breaking the speed limit. "Before and after" surveys of speed suggest that this equipment is successful in calming speed even after the visors have been moved elsewhere.

I know that your Labour ward councillors Eleanor Lister and Dot Long have worked hard on this issue, and so it might be an idea to give them a ring if you have any further concerns or suggestions - Eleanor is on 254091 or mobile 07976 226580. You can email her at

Dot is on 355755. Her email address is

Trust this is helpful.

Best wishes,


ian holme said...

I agree with the sentiment of introducing 20mph limits, and have sent an email regarding a specific issue.
However, these limits must be targeted for max affect. A blanket limit will only result in more congestion and alianate the motoring majority. This very same majority will i am sure support targetted 20mph zones, where there need is apparent and obvioulsy justified, such as schools and residential estates etc

This must be proportional and common sense needs to prevail over those with their own specific agenda.

Darlington Councillor said...

Apologies - the order of posts got skewed. This is for Mike and Ian.

You make points broadly at opposite ends of the spectrum, indicating the difficulty for the Council here. I can assure Ian that these areas weren't chosen at random, but instead are those places where there is a high accident rate. The only exceptions are those estates where there is already traffic calming, where the Council is simply seeking to bring in traffic orders which reflect reality on the ground. To be honest, I'm not sure that 20mph zones do cause congestion in towns - sometimes they ensure that traffic moves more smoothly. That may be where the political debate in Darlington on this issue is concentrated over the next few months.

Mike - I understand why you are asking for a blanket 20mph zone across the town - that would potentially be good not only for pedestrians and motorists in reducing accidents, but also cyclists too.

Practically, the Government insists that where 20mph zones are introduced, they are complemented by physical measures such as traffic calming. It isn't enough to slap down a bit of red paint on the road and erect some signs (as was done in some places). The Council is proposing to invest £250,000 in this initiative, but that will traffic calm only the most pressing areas.

In time, I would like to see a more ambitious 20mph zone policy. As Ian's post suggests, we will have to bring motorists with us. Evidence of lower accident statistics in those areas where 20mph zones have been brought in should offer compelling evidence, I would hope.

I will pass on your comments about Wylam Avenue to the Police, Mike. It is a very wide street (the widest residential street in the town) as it was formerly the road used getting engines in and out of Stephenson's Works.

Best wishes,


Mike said...

I can see how the need for traffic calming measures in a 20mph zone would increase the cost and the complexity of a blanket scheme. Personally, I don't like traffic calming measures as they generally create more noise and pollution as perople accelarate between them (as happens on Fitzwilliam Drive and Salisbury Terrace at the moment).

The worst area of Wylam Avenue for speeding seems to be after the road narrows, where it passes the field and the end of Cairngorm Drive, rather than the wider part. I think the approaching bottleneck acts as 'natural' traffic calming when people are on the wider part of the road.

I'm sure that a reduced speed limit wouldn't increase congestion; the only object moving at anything like 20mph on North Road this morning was me on my bike; the cars were pretty much stationary. A 20mph limit would have probably reduce bottlenecks at areas like the Whessoe Road junction and at the Thompson Street junction.

Mark Burton said...

Resent experiences tell me that although 20 mph speed limits are right for identified areas of the town, enforcement needs to be addressed, particularly in areas and times where there are pupils exiting school gates at home time.

Only on Tuesday of this week did I witness a near miss when a child, of 6 or 7, stepped into the path of a speeding car whilst walking around a group of parents waiting for their children who were blocking the path. It can be quite ‘mad’ at the junction of Thompson Street West and the Schools exit. And some drivers are still driving way to fast along there.

One idea might be to extend the paths fencing to guide pupils around the corner, as the paths curb is level with the road surface and might not be ‘seen’ as stepping into (danger) the road by young children.