20mph in Witney ?
Is it good or Bad for Witney ?

Witney's contentious 20mph Limit

Duncan Enright's post in I Love Witney

Reducing speeds saves lives. It also makes people feel safer to walk and cycle. Main roads will still be 30 or more, but the benefit for traffic flows and air quality are clear elsewhere, and welcome in Witney. This is one more step to making our beautiful market town a better place to live, and I look forward to making sure it works for everyone – including our buses and businesses – as well as being safer for residents.

ITV NEWS Witney item

The new 20 mph speed limits in Witney have certainly caused a lot of costenation within the Witney community.
On the I Love Witney group alone there have been countless critical posts, some of which were so unpleasant as to be removed.
Duncan Enright, (Cabinet Member for Travel & Development Strategy, Labour & Co-operative Party Group has been busy defending the decisions with the help of his Video maker son, Tom.

Is 20 a safer speed?

Whilst many local people are angry that  Oxfordshire County Council seems to be ignoring what locals and businesses think, I’m sure we’d all agree that from a safety point of view, yes 20mph could on the face of it be safer.
I say could because having a road sign saying 20 could give a false sense of security to other road users and pedestrians that the traffic will indeed be sticking to the speed limit and moving at just 20mph.

Quoting from Cyclinguk.org The risk of serious injury or death to pedestrians or cyclists increases disproportionately as speeds increase. A pedestrian hit at 40mph has a 31% chance of death; hit at 30mph and that risk falls to 7%; at 20mph the risk is negligible.

But is it safer without the support of police enforcement? Thames Valley Police say the 20mph limits will only be enforced ‘where appropriate’.
So what and where is it appropriate?
Locals will soon see where the police station themselves in ‘appropriate areas’ and possibly ignore the 20mph sign in other places, making them conceivably more dangerous than before!
According to TVP “If a speed limit is set too low and is ignored then this could result in the vulnerable road user being less safe….. Thames Valley Police have no policy to enforce based on arbitrary speed limits alone but will enforce based on threat of harm, risk and resourcing”. 
So is it going to be safer?

Is 20 a cleaner speed?

Duncan certainly thinks so! And so does Councillor Liz Duncan the Mayor of Witney and Chair of a Town Council Working Party set up to develop the scheme. She said on the Oxfordshire County Council website : “It is exciting to see this comprehensive 20mph scheme coming to our town, bringing improved road safety for residential streets, reducing the risks of death and injury. We have received many requests from residents for the reduced speed limit and this whole town approach will bring huge benefits.

“As well as safer streets, other similar schemes have seen reductions in traffic noise, better air quality and increased physical activity because with roads feeling safer, people are happier to leave the car at home and walk or cycle instead.”

On the face of it, 20mph sounds better doesn’t it, it sounds cleaner, less fumes pumping out into our lungs. But, and I hasten to add I’m not an expert in these things but if a journey takes you longer because of a reduced speed are you actually pumping out less fumes? I don’t know but I’d welcome your feedback on this. It seems to me that if a journey is going to take you a third longer because you’re going one third slower then surely you’ll be pumping out the same or similar levels of toxins.

Also what is the optimum in town speed for engines to be efficient?

An article in The Guardian some while back looked at reducing speed from 30 to 20. 

In 2009 researchers at Virginia Tech in the US  found that ‘While traffic calming measures reduce vehicle speeds on neighbourhood streets and may contribute to enhanced road safety, these measures can result in significantly higher fuel consumption and emission rates when drivers accelerate aggressively’. 

It seems, looking at various research articles, that reducing from 30 to 20 does not in itself reduce emissions but what it can do is have an effect on driver behavior  – less braking, less acceleration, smoother travel and therefore less emissions. 

In Witney, bearing in mind the amount of traffic, will we get a chance to drive smoother and improve our road behaviour?

I Love Witney Group Comments

names removed for privacy

Yes the slower speed would be able to reduce accidents but it increases vehicle emissions and will make many avoid Witney in the long run due to almost crawling along the roads. I understand the limits being lower in places such as Madley Park, Smiths Estate, Wadards Meadow, etc but reducing speeds on the main roads is ridiculous. 

Kind of ironic this is posted on I love Witney. Very clear Witney does not want this.

And you are also imposing a 20mph limit in Eynsham. To my knowledge there has only been one fatality in 50 years within the 30 mph limit.

Even our useless MP disagrees with this as those who objected outweighed those who agreed to it but like many other things in this town it was implemented anyway!

Not once have you listened to the residents who are against this idea , if drivers in witney could actually get to 30 mph it would be a surprise . Try dealing with the safety of pedestrians in witney and stop pusbikes and electric scooters travelling on pavements , especially as you’ve installed pointless bike lanes

I am so relieved this is being done. The speed of many vehicles through the centre of Witney can be terrifying. My wife is disabled and crossing the road is a challenge. At last the ability to visit the centre with more safety is really welcome..

It will cause more congestion and road rage

Duncan this is a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
I certainly agree with reducing speed limits outside schools and known accident hot spots, but to have a blanket 20 miles an hour speed limit is really an abuse of your power.
Who is going to monitor this and how much revenue will it provide.
You’d be doing a better job by dealing with the Bridge Street issue and open up the town centre to traffic.

Absolutely ridiculous! Traffic is going to be a bloody nightmare. I can’t see people sticking to 20mph at all and with no way of actually enforcing it properly, it’s a massive waste of tax payers money. Outside schools yes but on main roads? Waste of time!.

Was there this amount of fuss when 30 mph speed limits were introduced? I can’t believe the furore. Was there this outcry when motorcycle helmets and seat belts were made compulsory? !


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